True greatness in boxing is shown when dealing with adversity. It is shown in a moment of crisis after receiving that devastating blow, and when the world thinks your done, but you persevere. Last Saturday night, when undefeated Chris Algieri (19-0, 8 KO’s) stepped into the squared circle against WBO Junior Welterweight powerhouse Ruslan Provodnikov (23-2-0, 16 KO’s), Algieri showed his true greatness.
After about a minute and forty seconds of Provodnikov’s constant stalking pressure, Ruslan landed a monstrous left hook that not only put Algieri on the canvas, but also damaged his right eye. Instantly the eye began to swell, and it was clear the eye would eventually shut. Algieri easily beat the count and seemed to have his legs under him, but seemed a bit uneasy about his eye. Feeling Provodnikov coming in, he then took a knee, for the second knockdown of the fight. This gave Provodnikov a 10-7 round, and an early lead on the scorecards.
In between rounds, one could see that Algieri’s eye was badly damaged, and there was blood coming from his nose, as well. One had a feeling that this was just another overmatched fighter, getting ready to become just another one of “Siberian Rocky’s” victims. However, Algieri had other plans.
To start second round, Provodnikov came out with the same ruthless intention, focusing his attack on the body. He was doing a good job of cutting off the ring, and landed the harder combinations, most of which ended with a left hook to the head. But Algieri was very much a live dog, throwing impressive combinations, and flashing a good stiff jab, in an attempt to fight Provodnikov off. He even was able to land a left hook, left uppercut, left jab combination that snapped Provodnikov’s head back, and brought a smirk across Ruslan’s face. Still Provodnikov punctuated the round with another hard left hook.
In round three, Provodnikov came out and quickly landed another hard left hook. But this time Algieri quickly responded with a jab, and left hook to the body combination which he effectively used throughout. At this point Algieri began to show signs of understanding what he needed to do to win. He began to constantly give Provodnikov angles, and constantly threw different kinds of punches. At times just the jab. At times a lead right hand followed by a left hook to the body.
If one ignored the HBO commentary, and paid attention to the fight, it was clear that yes, Provodnikov was the obvious stronger puncher, but Algieri had a lot of pop behind his punches. Algieri’s punches would often snap back Provodnikov’s head. Still one can’t argue that the swelling of Algieri’s eye did seem to make him appear more vulnerable when Provodnikov attacked.
In the fifth round, Provodnikov continued to be aggressive, as one knew he would, landing a hard right hook, left hook to the body combination. The rest of the round Algieri again continued to box well, landing his effective jab, and moving well laterally. Just when it seemed that Algieri would steal this round, Ruslan partially landed a right hook but followed it by another destructive left hook that nearly took Algieri’s head off. Lucky for him, it was right at the end of the round, and he was able to recover.
Going into the sixth round, Algieri had landed 124 punches to Provodnikov’s 84. Algieri was clearly outworking Provodnikov, and Provodnikov seemed to getting frustrated. Provodnikov again came out coming straight for Algieri, landing another left hook. Algieri took it well and came out with another one of his splendid combinations. A combo that consisted of a left jab, right uppercut, and left jab, that again sent Provodnikov’s head snapping back. Provodnikov, reacting to his frustration, seemed to focus less and less on the body, and more on getting that big knockout punch.
By round eight, Algieri eye swelling was beginning to get out of hand, and the eye seemed completely closed. Still, he managed to box well, throwing everything at Provodnikov to keep him off. Provodnikov just did not seem to be able to keep up with the activity, and the punch numbers Algieri was putting up. After nine rounds Algieri had outlanded Provodnikov 230 to 151. Even with the shut eye, Algieri miraculously continued to box beautifully. He seemed to have an expert jab, at times doubling and tripling it to set up a left hook to the body. He also seemed to at times win on the inside. He would often appear to be coming in for a clinch, and would quickly step to the side and land a sneaky combination.
Going into round eleven, even Provodnikov’s trainer, Freddie Roach, seemed concerned with the way the fight had turned as he stated, “OK… It’s way too close, we need a knockout here. Let’s put the pressure on him.” But there was nothing Provodnikov could do. Algieri was putting on a boxing clinic, and seemed as though he could keep the pace for fifteen rounds. He clearly won the eleventh round and again outlanded Provodnikov in the twelfth.
At the end of the fight, Algieri’s eye looked like it had taken every punch in the fight, as it was not only shut, but also grotesquely swollen. Still, one could not deny the magnificent performance that was put in by Algieri.
After waiting for a few minutes, the scorecards were read. 117-109 for Provodnikov, and two identical 114-112 cards for Algieri, giving him the split decision victory, and making him the new WBO Junior Middleweight champion of the world.
This again shows that Ruslan Provodnikov is fun to watch, but when put in front of shifty fighters, like Chris Algieri or Mauricio Herrera, he does not have the skills to take them down. He even seemed to admit it in his post fight interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman. “I have to admit, runners are not my style. He’s just jabbing and touching me. I can’t feel any of that, but that’s not my style. You know, I like guys who stand there and fight. It’s the worst style for me.”
With this win, Algieri has put himself on the primetime boxing map, and has proven that he is a skilled boxer. Many intriguing fight scenarios have begun to come up in the Junior Welterweight division.