WBO junior welterweight champion Ruslan Provodnikov is known as the “The Siberian Rocky.” But Saturday night it was challenger Chris Algieri, who took Provodnikov’s moniker and title by split decision at The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
The scores were 114-112 (twice) for Algieri and 117-109 for Provodnikov.
Doghouseboxing scored the bout 115-111 for Provodnikov.
Algieri (20-0, 8 KOs) found himself on the canvas twice in the opening stanza. A blistering left hook did the deed. A few seconds later he took a knee after another shot to the head. To compound his problems, Algieri’s left eye was damaged.
Provodnikov (23-3, 16 KOs), defending his belt for the first time, probably figured the fight was over. He swarmed Algieri and went for the kill, but somehow the former kickboxer survived.
Algieri, 30, fought his way back into the contest in rounds two and three. While Provodnikov stalked and went to the body, Algieri peppered the champion with shots from the outside. His lateral movement was giving Provodnikov fits. None of this was very surprising. It’s common knowledge that most heavy punchers can be outboxed, but it takes a fighter of true resiliency to achieve it.
In the next few rounds, Provodnikov, 30, wobbled Algieri, but the super quick challenger was fighting back. His jab was landing along with his lead right hand. Algieri couldn’t hurt Provodnikov, but his punches were connecting.
Algieri was fighting for his life in more ways than one. Provodnikov was relentless, but Algieri was finding ways to get off the ropes. In a sense his offense was his best defense. Provodnikov grinned and walked through his punches. His shots hurt Algieri, but the Huntington, New York native would slip away like a thief in the night and pop Provodnikov on the nose.
Before round 11, trainer Freddie Roach told Provodnikov to go for the knockout. Algieri was landing more punches, but Provodnikov was connecting with the heavier blows. The super tough guy from Beryozovo, Russia pushed for the knockout, but Algieri, moved, feinted and punched.
By the end of the fight, nobody doubted Algieri’s courage. His left eye shut and nose gushing blood, his heart thumped louder than ever. Provodnikov chased after him and punched. Both fighters were exhausted at the bell.
“This has been a surreal week for me,” said the victorious Algieri in the ring. “Really, the only punch that hurt me was that first shot. I was f****** blind by the 11th round.”
“I felt like after the knockdown I was just trying to land the big punch,” said Provodnikov.”He just ran and touched me. I didn’t feel any of that.”