WBO light welterweight champion Ruslan "Siberian Rocky" Provodnikov (23-2, 16 KO) has quickly made himself one of the most feared fighters in his weight region. Many of the biggest names are hesitant to get in the ring with him, but if he continues to stop opponents in impressive fashion, the big fights will come.
Provodnikov's fans have their eyes set on the top of the hill, and as evidenced by the WBO champion's recent retweet, he's co-signing.
Until fights of that magnitude occur, we have bouts like the one scheduled for Saturday against little-known and undefeated American Chris Algieri (19-0, 8 KO).
Algieri is a good pro who hails from Huntington, New York. Since the fight takes place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the challenger should have a decent following at the event. Will that be enough to push him through to an upset win?
Check out the vital information for the bout.
When: Saturday, June 14 at 10 p.m. ET
Where: Barclays Center in Brooklyn
The Book on Provodnikov
With a granite chin, iron will and steel right hand, Provodnikov has already proved his mettle against the likes of Timothy Bradley and Mike Alvarado. While he lost a thrilling bout to Bradley, he pounded the tough and rugged Alvarado into submission.
After an increasingly lopsided first 10 rounds, Alvarado did not answer the bell for the 11th, and Provodnikov had captured his first world title.
The Siberian Rocky has built a reputation as a relentless pursuer of the knockout finish. But he says that's not totally his game plan.
"I don't make it a goal to knock my opponents out, I just do my best to win the fight," Provodnikov said, per Allen Trieu of Fox Sports. "If I can win without a lot of blood, I do that, or if I have the opportunity to knock him out, I do that, too. I just do my job in the ring."
Oh, but the "blood" is part of what has made Provodnikov such an intriguing champion. Because of his marginal defense and speed, Provodnikov takes a good amount of punishment in his fights, but he gives even better than he receives in most instances.
He's the imperfect, but formidable slugger.
Despite being cut in most of his recent bouts, he has never appeared to be dazed and was never close to going down. With a heavy concentration on body attacks and a seemingly endless supply of stamina, intensity and durability, Provodnikov is as dangerous as they come at 140 pounds.
The Book on Algieri
Algieri is no stiff. He's not a guy who is devoid of skills, but this still doesn't look to be a fight he has a great chance of winning. He may simply be out of his class in this one. Hamilton Nolan of HBO wrote:
Chris Algieri is the sort of hometown hero that populates the boxing world from coast to coast. He is the pride of Huntington, New York, the reliable draw at the local arena, the undefeated champ of his corner of the map. He is a talented boxer, a feel-good story, and a clean-cut and likeable man. He is about to set all of that comfort aside and volunteer for the thrashing of a lifetime.
Algieri is a big and strong light welterweight. At 5'10" with broad shoulders, he has a frame that could seemingly hold up to 160 pounds without a problem. Against Provodnikov, he's going to need every bit of it.
The challenger is taking a major step up in class with this fight. Aside from the bout being his first shot at a world title, the class of fighter is clearly on another level.
Algieri has most often faced other up-and-coming fighters or veterans on the downside of their careers. Neither will be the case on Saturday night. Algieri is in for a war, whether he's ready for it or not.
That said, there's something special about the 30-year-old's resolve and commitment to maximizing this opportunity. He's already had to overcome a legal battle to simply compete on Saturday night. His former manager is suing him and unsuccessfully sought to have the bout cancelled.
The former kickboxer seems to know what he's gotten himself into and shows no signs of intimidation. Per Robert Cassidy of Newsday, Algieri said:
I think with Ruslan, you know what you are going to get. He's going to come forward and throw bombs. That's what he does. I am expecting that. I think our styles match up perfectly. I think this fight is all about real estate, whoever can control where the fight is happening in the ring will have the advantage.
It sounds as if Algieri has his game plan in order. That's not to say he'll win and become champion, but if he is headed for the "thrashing of a lifetime," he's going to go down giving it his best effort.
Algieri's lack of power is the biggest problem for him in this bout. He is a sharp counterpuncher who changes levels well, but he just doesn't have the sting on his punches to slow Provodnikov's assault.
For that matter, neither did Bradley. But the difference is that Desert Storm had a huge speed advantage over Provodnikov. That's something Algieri won't have on Saturday. His notable six-inch reach advantage could be a factor, but Provodnikov has an answer for that.
The champion loves to dig to the body.
Without the speed to augment the reach, it's only a matter of time before Algieri gets worn down and stopped.
The Siberian Rocky will successfully defend his title with a middle-to-late-round stoppage.
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