Lucas Matthysse outslugs Ruslan Provodnikov to majority decision
The junior welterweight showdown between Lucas Matthysse and Ruslan Provodnikov was billed as a can’t-miss slugfest, a guaranteed Fight of the Year, and the HBO-televised 12-rounder lived up to expectations with Matthysse earning a hard-fought decision over an incredibly resilient and determined Provodnikov.
Matthysse (37-3, 34 knockouts), who had the decided edge in CompuBox stats in terms of activity and accuracy, won by scores of 115-113 (twice) and 114-114, but it was one of the hardest fights of the 32-year-old Argentine’s career.
Matthysse, a boxer-puncher, had to rely on his underrated footwork and versatility to help him deliver his powerful combinations to the head of the constantly advancing Russian pressure fighter. He got off to a fast start, landing almost at will as he side-stepped the rushing Provodnikov, who loaded up and missed with single power punches. The middle rounds looked like target practice as the face of Provodnikov (24-4, 17 KOs) was beaten into a cut and swollen collection of bloody lumps.
However, it ain’t over until it’s over when Provodnikov is involved. The 31-year-old ring warrior increased his pressure and began to drop combinations when in close, often tapping the body and head. Provodnikov landed left hooks that moved Matthysse and put the sharpshooter on his back foot in the late rounds of the bout. The two exchanged fierce power punches in rounds 10 and 11, but the Russian seemed to connect with the harder shots. Round 12 belonged to Provodnikov but Matthysse survived the final three minutes and prevailed thanks to the work he did in the first half of the bout.
“He is a rock,” Matthysse said during his post-fight interview. “He took a lot of hard punches. I even hurt my hand, but I came to work. I’m a boxer. He made me move and it worked for me. But, for sure, in Round 11 he hurt me with a shot that landed high on my head.
“I’m one of the best in the 140-pound division. I’d like to take on the winner of (Floyd) Mayweather-(Manny) Pacquiao fight.”
Provodnikov was disappointed, as can be expected, but gave Matthysse his props and vowed to come back.
“He was the hardest puncher I ever faced,” Provodnikov said during his post-fight interview. “I always tell my trainer not to stop the fight, no matter what happens. The only way for me to stop is if I get knocked out.
“I wanted to win the fight no matter how it came, by knockout or any other way, I always give my all.”
A full ringside report by Joe Santoliquito will be posted soon.