|Top 6 Fighters who make up The Eastern Bloc Boxing Lock
By Zito, Doghouse Boxing (Feb 10, 2015)
It has become glaringly apparent that the road to superstardom in boxing will now be going through Eastern European origins. This fact goes for most weight divisions above junior featherweight. Once the bell rings, no fighter has been immune from the technically scientific thrashings or the traumatic blunt force assaults that these fighters tend to deliver.
At featherweight, Vasyl Lomanchenko has the ability to apply an extremely well-rounded display of boxing craftiness during the duration of his bouts. There is not much that he cannot do in the ring.
Also at featherweight/super featherweight is Evgeny Gradovich, an undefeated action fighter known simply as 'The Mexican Russian'.
A few weight divisions heavier at lightweight/welterweight is a physically rugged fighter with heavy hands named Ruslan Provodnikov.
The middleweight division is governed literally by the steady and damaging pressure of Gennady Golovkin's iron fist.
Knockout power delivered from range with both hands dominate the light heavyweight division in the form of Sergey Kovalev.
Wladimir Klitschko infamously rules the heavyweight division with reach, movement, discipline, and power.
There are definitely other Eastern European boxers worthy of note, but the path to championship success in boxing will probably find its way to one of the six previously mentioned fighters. Making it to fight these eastern obstructions is one thing, making it past these skillful demolishers with a victory is a different beast altogether.
Although the heart and determination of a fighter is not based solely on the region where they have spent their lives, the conditions of a fighter's environment does have a huge impact on how they will conduct themselves inside of the ring. To a certain extent, where you come from and how you live will ultimately determine how you will exist going forward in life. This is supremely accurate when it comes to fighting. Although the environmental situations of Eastern Europe have become somewhat less stressful upon the common people after the disbandment of the Soviet Union, everyday living conditions do not compare to the readily available luxuries of the Western world.
Ever changing political environments also have an impact on the predicaments of many Eastern European countries, cities, and small towns. Along with an extended history of war and mass deaths, these reoccurring dramatic circumstances tend to harden the average person's heart toward certain factors of life, such as violence. Living under this constant setting may be demoralizing for most ordinary people, but these conditions are perfect breeding grounds for manufacturing fighters. In recent years, many of the best pugilistic competitors have come from the former Soviet Bloc. The level of competition is high in Eastern Europe, and it is now spilling over into the world's championship bucket. Does being from the same political region under the same violent umbrella give these fighters an edge over all other fighters in the world?
The Ukrainian born Vasyl Lomanchenko (High Tech) is 26 years old with a professional record of 3 wins 1 loss with 1 knockout. He has an amateur record of 396 wins 1 loss. The one amateur loss was later avenged twice. Although Lomanchenko is limited in his professional boxing experience, it is obvious that he is the real deal. In his second professional fight, Vasyl lost a unanimous decision to Orlando Salido. In that fight, Lomanchenko had trouble with the vigorous pressure style of Salido in the early rounds. During the middle rounds, the fighter from the Ukraine started adjusting to Salido's steady inside compressive pace and by the later rounds Lomanchenko started to dish out punishment of his own. Vasyl then went on to face Gary Russell Jr. for the vacant WBO featherweight title. Lomanchenko dominated the bout with an impressive display of all-around boxing technique. He has recently defended his title against Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo. Lomanchenko won a 12 round unanimous decision in which his left hand became injured in the 7th round, yet he was able to justifiably receive all rounds on all scorecards.
The name 'High Tech' fits Vasyl Lomanchenko perfectly.
While being a fluid foot mover, he is almost digital with his punch placement, upper body movement, and defense. 'High Tech' Lomanchenko is a proven-to-be durable boxing specialist with little else to fault. His extended successful amateur career has translated to the professional level by leaps and bounds. The one interpretive flaw that can be mentioned with Vasyl may be in his lack of aggressive punching power. Don't get things mistaken. Lomanchenko is not void of power what-so-ever. Every professional fighter that he has faced has felt his power and been in trouble during moments of their respective fights. The only negative thing to cite would be that Lomanchenko did not finish them off. At times, Vasyl will seem to coast through the bout when it appears that he could end the fight with intrusive offensive precision. Gaining more professional experience will likely lead him into gauging the proper moments to pursue knockouts. As of now, 'High Tech' Lomanchenko looks to be one of the hardest boxers to defeat in his weight class, and his ceiling is looking limitless.
Born in Russia, Evgeny Gradovich (The Mexican Russian) is 28 years old with a professional record of 19 wins 0 losses 1 draw with 9 knockouts. He has an amateur record of 127 wins 23 losses. Gradovich gained the IBF featherweight title with a split decision upset win over at the time highly regarded Billy Dib. After defending the title with a lopsided unanimous decision, Egeny faced Dib once again. This time, 'The Mexican Russian' successfully defend his title with a 9th round knockout.
The quality of Gradovich's opponents doesn't sparkle the eye, but it is easy to tell that he is a solid fighter. 'The Mexican Russian' is an in-your-face brawler who is tough and well-conditioned. He moves his head with a high guard and throws educated jabs to get on the inside. Once he is there, Evgeny will throw hard body shots and hooks. As relentless as his pace can be, Gradovich does not pack a whole lot of punching power. Less than half of his wins are by knockout, and most of those are from punch accumulation. The good thing is that a Mexican Russian doesn't often get tired, so count on Gradovich to punch for the whole fight.
Born in Siberia, Ruslan Provodnikov (Siberian Rocky) is 30 years old with a professional record of 24 wins 3 losses with 17 knockouts. He has an amateur record of 130 wins 20 losses.
Ruslan appeared in quite a few bouts on ESPN's Friday Night Fights. He generated much excitement with his hard-punching pressure style. Ruslan defeated Demarcus Corley by decision, but lost a decision to the well-respected Mauricio Herrera. Provodnikov finally got his title shot against Timothy Bradley. Although he lost the fight, Ruslan badly hurt Bradley several times during the fight and made Timothy use his outside boxing skills to earn a decision. Provodnikov next faced Mike Alvarado for the WBO Junior welterweight title. 'Siberian Rocky' punished Alvardo with power punches until the fight was stopped in the 10th round. After this impressive display, Provodnikov fought a virtually unknown fighter named Chris Algieri in his first title defense. In the first round, Ruslan landed a left hook that knocked Algieri down and left his right eye severely swollen for the duration of the fight. After another knockdown, Algieri went on to thoroughly out-box a slow-footed Provodnikov for the rest of the fight to earn a decision victory. To match up against Ruslan Provodnikov on any night is a dangerous journey. He is capable of being defeated by continual movement and punches thrown from outside of his own punching range, which takes an incredible amount of stamina. But even that does not come without a price. Bradley had to withstand damage in the early rounds and later in the fight while he used footwork to win the middle rounds. Algieri had to survive Ruslan's brutal attack in the first round before he could successfully work from the outside. Yes Provodnikov can be out-maneuvered into a loss, but only three fighters have defeated him and two of them had to hold on for dear life before they were able to achieve control of the fight. Alvarado tried to use the same method of movement and outside angles against Ruslan, but he ended up getting destroyed. No matter what style, no one fights Siberian Rocky without acquiring damage.
The Kazakhstan born Gennady Golovkin (Triple G, GGG) is 32 years old with a professional record of 31 wins 0 losses with 28 knockouts. He has an amateur record of 345 wins 5 losses. During his amateur career, he has defeated many quality opponents including Lucian Bute, Matvey Korobov, Andre Dirrell, Yordanis Despaigne, Maikel Perez, and Andy Lee.
For most of Golovkin's professional career, he has easily expedited his opponents out of the ring with steady doses of power. This is not ordinary power either. Triple G's punches leave an imprint of immediate damage wherever they land. Although Kassim Ouma was older in his career, Golovkin was able to stop the always durable Ugandan in the 10th round. GGG then claimed the IBO middleweight title by stopping Lajuan Simon in the first round. Simon had never been stopped previous to that bout. Golovikin's first fight in America was a 5th round stoppage of highly touted Grzegorz Proksa. Proksa had also never been stopped. Triple G went on to defeat Gabriel Rosado, Nobuhiro Ishida, Matthew Macklin, Curtis Stevens, Osumanu Adama, Daniel Geale, and Marco Antonio Rubio. All of these wins have come from stoppages before eight complete rounds of fighting. Gennady Golovkin holds most of the major titles in the middleweight division and it is hard to see that changing any time soon. Many of his opponents are defeated even before they set foot in the ring with him. The manner in which he carefully stalks, cuts off the ring, and then brutally places a few punches equally to the body and the head of an opponent is impressively efficient. The slow forward motion blasting away brings a tank into mind, and that's what Triple G is in the ring. A tank has a good defensive shell and it can blast holes through fortifications. There is only one perceivable weakness with tanks, and that's angular movement. Golovkin will walk his foe down until he is directly in front of him. There are no tactics of avoiding in his game plan. It has not yet been proven, but it may be possible that a physically tough, mentally prepared, quick handed, fleet-footed, boxer may give Gennady some trouble. Straight forward and backward movement is what Golovkin wants, and he has yet to face an opponent that can effectively use lateral movement during their bouts. As of now, no one that has stepped into the ring with GGG has provided us with any information on how to defeat him. Some may consider the middleweight division thin in competition at this given time, but many of those that have lost to Golovkin are of a quality caliber. Triple G has been embraced with expectations of power punching greatness and against all competition, he hasn't disappointed one bit. Maybe the middleweight division is thin because of Gennady Golovkin.
Born in Russia, Sergey Kovalev (Crusher) is 31 years old with a professional record of 26 wins 0 losses 1 draw with 23 knockouts. He has an amateur record of 195 wins 18 losses. His first 9 fights all ended in stoppages within the first 2 rounds.
A tragic note to his career came when Roman Simakov went into a coma and died as a result of the damage acquired in his fight against Kovalev which ended in a 7th round stoppage. As he steadily ascended up the boxing ranks, he ran into the experienced veteran Gabriel Campillo. Sergey knocked Campillo out in 3 rounds. Kovalev then fought Nathan Cleverly for the WBO light heavyweight title. Although Cleverly out-boxed Sergey for portions of the short bout, Kovalev was able to land substantial power shots that sent Nathan down several times. The fight eventually ended with Cleverly being knocked out in the 4th round. Next, 'Crusher' Kovalev went on to demolish Ismayl Sillakh in the 2nd round in his first title defense. After a few more fights, all won by knockout, Sergey signed to fight the legendary Bernard Hopkins. With an impressive show of power-boxing skill, Kovalev was able to brutalize Hopkins and earn an easy unanimous decision.
Sergey is an exceptionally hard puncher that can cause damage from anywhere to anywhere. It is not easy to dismiss the powerfully long jab or the body curving straight right that the Russian born fighter throws from distance. He may not be the fastest with hand or foot movement, but he seems to have a keen sense of timing along with pretty good punch placement abilities. Kovalev had no issue with the foot movement of Hopkins, but educated foot movement along with well-timed punches does trouble 'Crusher', if only for a little while. After being hurt from an attack early in the fight, Cleverly at times was able to dance in and out with combinations against Sergey, but that only lasted until Kovalev stepped up the aggression and got his timing down. Cedric Agnew seemed to puzzle Kovalev for a little while, but eventually this non-offensive movement was stopped by a hard shot to the body landed by Kovalev that ended the fight. As much as foot movement and timing may bother Sergey, they can do nothing more than bother him temporarily. Eventually, Kovalev seems to figure the movements and timing of his opponents after a few rounds. If a fighter can keep that sort of movement long enough to win rounds and survive, then maybe someone can beat Kovalev.
For now, no style seems to be able to stop 'Crusher' from winning fights.
The Kasakhstan born Wladimir Klitschko (Dr. Steelhammer) is 38 years old with a professional boxing record of 63 wins 3 losses with 53 knockouts. He has an amateur record of 134 wins 6 losses.
Klitschko was educated in the Ukraine and is Ukrainian by nationality. Wladimir is recognized worldwide as the reigning undisputed heavyweight pugilist champion of the planet. For several years there have been no heavyweights that could face Dr. Steelhammer and not give in to his surgical control. It would take too long to go through his successful title defenses (22), but the numbers are relevant. He has the 2nd most successful title defenses and he has the 2nd most title fights in heavyweight history. Many people associated with boxing look at the heavyweight division as being non-competitive and void of quality fighters.
Let's look at things this way. What would the heavyweight division be without Wladimir Klitschko? The competition of championship fights would certainly be more evenly matched. Major titles would likely change hands more often. There would be a limited number of recognizable heavyweights that could generate the star power needed to promote big money fights. As of now and for a long while, the Klitschko name has been the predominant force in heavyweight boxing. There is one major reason for Wladimir's successful domination. The word is professionalism. When an athlete is dedicated to their craft all day, all week, all month, and all year around, positive results usually occur for them within their profession. Wladimir's constant professional approach to boxing allows him to know exactly who he is in the ring, what he can do, and the extent of his abilities. At 6 feet 6 inches with a reach of 81 inches, Klitschko has the mental capability to use his physical size and length to the maximum. He is a master outside boxer who has a smashing jab that can either blind or steer his opponents into his crushing straight right. Recently, Wladimir has been developing and using a leaping left hook that's thrown after the jab or after a jab feint. This left hook has been evident in his last two fights as both opponents were dropped by this punch. With all of his size and skill, Dr. Steelhammer is not regarded as the toughest tool in the shed. Any hard physical contact that is not initiated by Wladimir seems to put him in a panic. It may be that he himself knows the extent of his physical durability. Klitschko's only losses have been three knockout stoppages. Most of the time, he fights as if every punch thrown by his opponent will lead to a 4th knockout stoppage. Wladimir has absolutely no inside fighting skill besides grabbing and holding on to an opponent. Most successful fighters appear relaxed and calm during most portions of a fight, but Klitschko does not give that appearance. When an offensive attack is launched at him, Wladimir will expeditiously move his feet, lean straight back, or jump in high to grab and hold his opponent. The application of these tactics takes an incredible amount of cunning experience. As big and nimble as Klitschko is, it is near impossible to defeat him while all of these big man strategies are being applied. It is rare to find a man that is 6' 6" 245 pounds with the coordination of a pure boxer. Wladimir Klitschko has proven that not only size but dedicated skill have made him an historical heavyweight force.
All of these successful fighters have more than region in common. For one thing, these six fighters have had a combined 1,402 amateur fights with only 73 combined losses. Each man has over 125 wins in their individual amateur careers with every man having over 135 fights. Not one of these fighters have been beat up for extended amounts of time during a professional bout. It cannot be validly stated that any of these six fighters have ever come to the ring unprepared to fight mentally or bodily. They do not have more physical talent or ability than any other fighter from any other part of the world. These six prominent fighters from Eastern Europe are not super humans that have special boxing genetics. Klitschko, Kovalev, Golovkin, Provodnikov, Gradovich, and Lomanchenko are all men who put themselves in peril every time they enter the ring, as does every other fighter. The difference may be in their appreciation of boxing. For many years, fighters from Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union were not allowed to participate in bouts with fighters from many other nations. As the political pressure somewhat eased, many of the amateur fighters from the former Soviet Bloc had opportunities to turn professional. With extended amateur careers due to political tensions, most of these amateur fighters have turned pro late in their careers. By the time they make it to the world stage, many of these fighters are in their late twenties or even early thirties. Their professional careers may be shorter than the average fighter and that may give them a special appreciation for their professional situation. Can that be a part of their success? With high levels of experience due to extensive amateur careers, Eastern European fighters are making the absolute best of each professional opportunity.
Maybe it’s their geography. Maybe it’s their breeding. Maybe it’s the weather. Or just maybe, there is no key that can figure out and open up the secret to the Eastern Bloc Boxing Lock.
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