Ruslan “Siberian Rocky” Provodnikov displayed his ferocious side early on at Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y. by swiping a rock hard left paw to the right eye of Chris Algieri. Chris not only went down, he went over, doing a backward somersault.
When he stopped rolling, referee Harvey Dock started the count. Swelling started immediately, both below and above the eye socket, causing fears that this fight was going to end early. Those fears were fed when seconds later, Chris went down again. This time it was much less violently as he took a knee. It seemed Chris needed to do so to get a moment to gather his senses. He squinted a little too in an attempt to work the eye lids, making sure they were still there.
Chris managed to elude anymore serious damage, and get back to his corner, where fears of orbital bone damage surfaced. Ice cold End-swell was anxiously applied. The area above and below the right eye gathered together, rapidly allowing only a slit for Chris to see through. If he had quit then and there, not many would have criticized him for it. After all, similar injuries to gritty fighters like Antonio Margarito and Lucas Matthysse were recent reminders of the serious nature of such contusions. Chris calmed the fears of those taking turns poking and prodding the Impairment. He said he was alright and wanted to continue.
He managed to spring off his stool at the sound of the bell for round two. Everyone slid a bit closer to the edge of their chairs, fretful that the Siberian Rocky would pounce again. How Chris managed to keep his wits about him was testament to his courage and will to win, and win he did, gaining momentum as the fight rolled on toward the twelfth and final round. Two judges thought that he took all but three of the remaining rounds, scoring the bout 114-112. The third judge, Max Deluca, had Provodnikov winning big at 117-109. The difference of opinion rested in the importance placed on fewer hard punches, versus volume punching. Obviously, two thought Chris controlled the fight with movement and volume punching.
Chris was effective with jabs, uppercuts and straight shots, delivered often enough to keep Ruslan at bay. In between rounds, trainer Freddie Roach instructed Ruslan to throw more jabs, behind which he could move in close to unleash his body attack. As the fight progressed, Freddie added that he wanted Ruslan to use a feint to get Chris to bend in close. Freddie wanted Ruslan to time it and catch Chris with a left. Ruslan tried and tried, but Chris managed to combine a sufficient number of movements and punches together to keep Ruslan resetting.
Chris’ eight kayo’s out of his 19 wins over lesser competition didn’t suggest he had enough power to keep Ruslan off of him. Also, Chris never fought in the amateurs, so he didn’t have that experience to fall back on. However, Chris was 20-0 in pro kick boxing, and he felt he had been successful in enough tough fights to see him through in this fight. initially, the fear was Ruslan would eagerly take a few shots and then pounce on his prey. Many envisioned Ruslan throwing a few thunderous body shots, enough to slow down Chris and then land the head shots needed to put him away. That feeling lasted through the entire fight. The threat never subsided, but it was never realized because Chris never slowed down. Freddie Roach knew things were too close for comfort, and he advised Ruslan to go for the knockout. However, Chirs kept sticking and moving, eluding most of Ruslan’s hard stuff. His punches had enough steam in them to stop Ruslan’s forward movement, and sometimes even forced him to retreat.
This win puts Chris right in the mix with some pretty big names, and the potential for a big money fight. He now has Ruslan’s WBO light welterweight title to wave under the noses of some promoters. Ruslan kept the fight close, and continued to be a threat throughout, so even though he lost his title, he acquitted himself well enough to stay in the mix. When HBO’s Max Kellerman ask Ruslan to describe what happened in the fight, Ruslan stated he has trouble with fighters who run or move too much. Max jumped on that point, thinking Ruslan wouldn’t want a rematch, but that question didn’t get asked. It’s highly doubtful Ruslan wouldn’t want a rematch.