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De La Hoya Claims Matthysse-Provodnikov “Might Be The Fight Of The Year.”

By Sean Crose

“I expect the same as all the fans.”

So said Ruslan “The Siberian Rocky” Provodnikov during a conference call to promote his upcoming April 18th junior welterweight bout with fellow thrillmeister Lucas Matthysse at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York. Indeed, fans are expecting a lot from this one, for it features two excitement-prone brawlers who both battle in an entertaining style.

“Both guys are very dangerous,” Provodnikov’s famed trainer, Freddie Roach, told the media. “I told Ruslan if you hurt this guy, don’t just talk in because he has tremendous power.”

Provodnikov, however, is confident.

“I know that if I give everything that I have in the ring, and I give everything that I have in training, I can beat anybody,” he said.

So much for his controversial loss last year to Chris Algieri having a terminal effect. Indeed, Provodnikov is eager to meet the hard brawling Matthysse in the ring.

“Walking into a ring with a fighter that I know will fight me definitely,” he said, “I can do a lot better than [with] a fighter who will just run.” Clearly, this match will not be water ballet.

“I know that this is going to be a real fight,” claimed Provodnikov, “and I know that either, you know, I take him or he takes me. And it’s going to be toe to toe it’s going to be a real fight. For me that’s only a positive.”

Yet Provodnikov isn’t the only one eager to throw down at the Turning Stone Casino later this month. Matthysse made it clear he was thrilled with the opportunity, as well.

“I’m excited,” he said, “to be fighting a caliber of fighter like Ruslan. It’s two, you know, fighters at the top of their game fighting each other.”

Matthysse is not only aware that his bout with Provodnikov has the makings (at least on paper) of being a fan favorite. He also knows that it can lead the way to huge things in the red hot junior welterweight division.

“This is the fight that’s going to open up opportunities for the winner,” claimed the popular Argentine. “It’s the fight that’s going to open up bigger and better things, and that’s what I’m looking forward to. That’s what motivates me.”

Promoter Oscar De La Hoya made his presence felt during the call by making it clear that this sort of matchup is right up his alley.

“These are exactly the fights that the fans want to see,” said De La Hoya, “whether there’s a title on the line or no title, or where it takes place.”

In a world of network and inter-promotional rivalries, the legendary fighter turned promoter made it obvious that he was going to give fans the kinds of fights they appreciate.

“We are just thrilled that the best network is going to be televising this event,” he said, throwing a clear jab at his former partners at Showtime. “These are the types of events that obviously belong on HBO Championship Boxing and we are just thrilled and excited to be part of it.”

No matter what network the fight is on, however, viewers will want to see a good match. Unfortunately, this one runs the risk of disappointing just because expectations are so high. If the bout somehow fails to deliver in epic Hagler-Hearns type fashion, there are those who will undoubtedly gripe.

Not that De La Hoya’s worried.

“I have a good hunch that this fight might be the Fight of the Year,” he said.

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