Ruslan Provodnikov Back in Action; Gavronski and Hendrix Put on a Show

By John G. Thompson: Siberian Ruslan Provodnikov (19-1, 13 KO’s) won his first fight back in America since he was out-boxed by Mauricio Herrera back in January. Provodnikov has won one other bout since then, a third round TKO in Russia. His opponent tonight, Ivan Popoca (15-1-1, 10 KO’s), boasted an undefeated record, though all of his fights had taken place in the state of Illinois. In the undercard of the event at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, California, Mike Gavronski and Tyrell Hendrix fought to a questionable though somehow deserved draw, in a highly entertaining four rounder on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights.

Provodnikov looked far more relaxed than Popoca from the start, pushing the action. In the third Provodnikov was landing good right and right-left counters over Popoca’s jab – just as Teddy Atlas said he could in his “Fight Plan” analysis before the bout. “He’s got slow hands,” Teddy had said of Popoca, and this proved accurate.

There were no knockdowns or point deductions in round five, though I scored it 10-8 for Provodnikov, as did the ringside commentators. Provodnikov had been landing clean headshots repeatedly throughout the round, and I was just wondering why none of them seemed to hurt Popoca, when in the last forty-five seconds of the round Provodnikov landed a hard left hook to the chin that buckled Popoca’s legs. Provodnikov turned the volume to eleven, ferociously pounding on Popoca hoping for the stoppage. Popoca showed a granite chin in making it through the round.

Provodnikov looked completely gassed from his assault in the fifth, and Popoca actually dominated the sixth, backing Provodnikov into a corner at one point. There was a small cut under Provodnikov’s right eye by the end of the round. Provodnikov may have been taking that round off however, as he clearly took back the fight in the seventh. With one minute and twenty seconds left in the eighth, Provodnikov landed a classic one-two; a jab which he followed up with a very quick and very powerful straight right which sent Popoca to the canvas. Popoca was up at four and the action continued briefly. Provodnikov landed some big headshots and the experienced Referee Pat Russell stepped in to stop the bout.

Mike Gavronski (2-0-1, 2 KO’s) from Bellevue, Washington and Tyrell Hendrix (5-1-2, 2 KO’s) from West Los Angeles, California put on a good show for the crowd, trading knockdowns in the first round, in a fight which saw plenty of back and forth action. Gavronski was throwing some good hooks early on and backed Hendrix into the ropes. Gavronski landed several straight rights and Hendrix went down just thirty seconds into the bout. He got up quickly, however, and after a bit of wrestling Hendrix even landed a few good rights of his own, one of which backed Gavronski into the ropes. Hendrix immediately followed that right up with an even better one to the chin, and Gavronski went down. He got up, bleeding from the right eye and nose. Gavronski held a bit as Hendrix went on the attack, though Gavronski come on strong in the final few seconds.

In the second round, Gavronski was clearly outworking his opponent, when Hendrix landed some punches which were much stronger than Gavronski’s, making the scoring difficult. The momentum in this round was constantly shifting. In the third, Hendrix was pressing forward, though now bleeding from both eyes. Both men were landing almost at will with the straight right. Ringside commentator Teddy Atlas said, “If either one of these fighters could learn how to avoid the other’s right hand, he’s on his way to the winner’s circle.” It should be noted that the referee called time at one point in order for the ringside physician to look at the cut over Hendrix’s left eye, and the time keeper failed to stop the clock, shortening the round. Regardless, both men were landing bombs and ringside commentator Joe Tessitore remarked, “This is a four round fight that these two guys are going to walk away from looking like they just went fifteen old-school.”

The final round was as close as the others, though I thought Gavronski might have outworked his opponent, even if Hendrix clearly landed the best punch of the night in the form of a huge, wide, looping right. One referee scored the bout 40-36 for Hendrix, which seemed a bit off. The other two both scored the match 38-38. The crowd applauded, not so much for the draw, but in appreciation for the action the two fighters gave them.

Also televised, Marvin Quintero improved to (22-3, 18 KO’s) after Referee Tom Taylor stopped his fight with Juan Santiago (13-7-1, 8 KO’s). Santiago had been a last minute replacement for Ji-Hoon Kim, taking the fight on just four days notice. With more time to train, the fight could well have turned out differently, as both men seemed evenly matched in the first round, trading hard shots to the head. Quintero took the lead in the second backing Santiago into the ropes in the final minute of the round and laying on some punishment.

Santiago came out a little too aggressively in the beginning of the third; missing a couple punches and getting nailed with a counter right hook. Quintero kept throwing as Santiago went back to the ropes, covering up as best as he could. Quintero was able to land through and around Santiago’s guard and Taylor stepped in immediately. The stoppage might have seemed a touch early, and Santiago certainly complained, but with him not throwing back and his head getting bounced around, he left Referee Taylor little option.

Article posted on 16.04.2011

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