Saturday, November 7, 2015

Ruslan Provodnikov Returns with a Four Round Demolition of Jesus Rodriguez

By Peter Silkov

Fan-favourite, ‘The Siberian Rocky’ Ruslan Provodnikov 25(18)-4 returned to action with an impressive victory over previously unbeaten Jesus Rodriguez 14(11koes)-1, in Monte Carlo.  It was Provodnikov’s first appearance in the ring since his April 18th point’s defeat by Lucas Matthysse, and also his first ring appearance since switching trainers from Freddie Roach to Joel Diaz.  On first impression, the switch to Diaz has already began to reap rewards for Provodnikov, Diaz’s voice could be heard shouting encouragement and instructions to Provodnikov during the action, which must be a welcome change for Ruslan, having gone through recent fights without his main trainer in his corner.  Before the fight, the talk was that Diaz was aiming to teach Ruslan a few tricks, most importantly, the ability to defend himself better, and not simply walk through punches that he should not be taking. The evidence tonight is that those tricks are working. 

Provodnikov is never going to be a defensive master, or a fancy-dan boxer, but he showed definite signs of paying more attention to his defence tonight. He showed the ability to move his head, and block and slip punches, in a way that he has not been doing in his most recent fights. Jesus Rodriguez was, despite his unbeaten record, a class below Ruslan.

The Siberian Rocky was pressuring Rodriguez from the start, pushing him against the ropes, as Rodriguez attempted a rear guard action, using a useful jab, but little else.  After sizing his man up in the 1st round, Ruslan started to up the tempo in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, landing some vicious shots to the body, which visibly drained any offensive ambitions away from his opponent.  What punches that did come at Ruslan were mostly blocked or slipped.  In the 4th round, Ruslan opened up fully for the first time, and floored Rodriguez twice with a bombardment of body and head punches, with the referee wisely waving the match off after the 2nd knockdown. 

Undoubtedly, there will be harder challenges in the future for Ruslan, but the signs of improvement were visible, along with the feeling that Ruslan finally has the kind of support in his corner that every fighter is entitled to receive.

If boxing politics do not get in the way, it would be interesting to see Provodnikov take on the winner of tonight’s match between Timothy Bradley and Brandon Rios, for Bradley’s WBO world welterweight title.  As we know, Provodnikov and Bradley have already fought each other once, in what was a thriller, and a rematch between the two is something that most boxing fans, and Ruslan himself, have been  wanting for some time.  A second fight with Bradley also has the added spice of Ruslan now being trained by Joel Diaz, who Bradley recently dumped as his trainer after the two had worked together for 10 years.

On the other hand, if Rios was to pull off an upset and beat Bradley later tonight, then a possible Provodnikov vs Rios fight is also an enticing prospect.  Whatever happens, Provodnikov looks to be in a better place now than he was early this year, he looks sharp and refreshed and with a team that is 100% behind him.

Copyright © 2015 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to
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