By: William Holmes
On Saturday night, HBO will have a boxing-heavy lineup, despite the fact they will only be televising one live bout. First they’ll be showing Timothy Bradley’s clear and sound decision victory over the legendary Juan Manuel Marquez from last weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada. After that bout they’ll be broadcasting from Broomfield, Colorado as Mike Alvarado takes on the hard-hitting Ruslan Provodnikov in a junior welterweight matchup.
Boxing fans who stay tuned in to HBO will also get to see Legendary Nights: The Tale of Gatti-Ward immediately after the junior welterweight showdown between Alvarado and Provodnikov.
The winner of Alvarado and Provodnikov has a good chance of moving on to a bigger money bout against either Timothy Bradley or the winner of Brandon Rios/Manny Pacquiao. There’s a lot on the line on Saturday for both fighters and a preview of this bout follows below.
Ruslan Provodnikov (22-2) vs. Mike Alvarado (34-1); WBO Light Welterweight Title
Very few casual boxing fans knew who Ruslan Provodnikov was before his brutal battle with Timothy Bradley in March of this year. Provodnikov was usually shown fighting on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights and was more famous for being one of Manny Pacquiao’s sparring partners. Even though he badly concussed Timothy Bradley and was extremely close to stopping him, Provodnikov dropped a very close decision to the American.
His unexpected and thrilling performance against Bradley earned Provodnikov an opportunity to fight again on HBO for another title shot, except for this time it’s in the junior welterweight division, a division that better suits the “Siberian Rocky.”
Provodnikov will be giving up two inches in height and nearly five inches in reach on Saturday. Provodnikov does have power and showed it in his prior bout with Bradley. He currently has 15 wins by stoppage on his record.
He’s a brawler and he is not known for his defensive skills. He’s defeated the likes of DeMarcus Corley, Jose Reynoso, David Torres, and Emanuel Augustus.
Fighters who are able to survive Provodnikov’s power are able to do well against him. He also lost to Mauricio Herrera in January of 2011 by a decision. However, Provodnikov’s confidence should be sky high since his impressive performance against Bradley.
Alvarado is thirty-three years old and is nearing the end of his athletic prime. He was an accomplished high school wrestler in Colorado before focusing on his boxing career. He had a short but successful amateur career and even defeated 2004 Olympian Andre Dirrell.
Alvarado, like Provodnikov, made his name known with a thrilling and violent televised matchup. He fought Brandon Rios twice: a stoppage TKO loss in October of 2012 that some felt was stopped too early, and a decision victory against Rios in March of 2013 that was just as brutal as their first bout.
Alvarado likes to brawl, but showed in his last bout that he’s smart enough to avoid unnecessary exchanges and simply outbox his opponents. He has also defeated Mauricio Herrera, a boxer who defeated Provodnikov, Breidis Prescott, Raymond Narh, and Emmanuel Clottey.
Alvardo has solid power, with 23 wins by KO or TKO, but he’ll be more successful if he chooses to box Provodnikov instead of brawl with him. Alvarado will also be fighting in his home state, so he will be more motivated than ever to do well inside the ring.
If Alvarado can box intelligently and avoid unnecessary exchanges he should win this bout. But he was rocked several times by Brandon Rios and Provodnikov punches with much more violence than Rios.
Alvarado should win by decision, but Provodnikov has the heart and power to make it interesting.
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