By Sean Crose
Mexico’s 14-0 Jesus Rodriguez unquestionably went to Monico to shock the world this weekend. Unfortunately for Rodriguez, the 24-4 Ruslan Provodnikov simply wasn’t going to let that happen. For the man known as the Siberian Rocky dominated his fight with his undefeated foe this Saturday in Europe, polishing Rodriguez off in the fourth round.
Provodnikov, who has fallen from on high recently, needed to look good this weekend, and he looked just that by cutting off the ring effectively, employing patience and enacting a massive ground attack to his opponent’s torso. While it’s true Rodriguez wasn’t the best opponent Provodnikov could possibly have faced, the undefeated Mexican fired some good shots at times and landed cleanly.
This may lead some critics to feel Provodnikov still leaves himself too vulnerable to the punches of his adversaries…and the criticism wouldn’t be without merit. Still, for a man who was a charging bull for at least the past several years, improvements have clearly been made. Along with the patience Provodnikov showed on Saturday, he cut off the ring with confidence, something he didn’t do against opponents like Chris Algieri.
Provodnikov also moved his head a little and even looked a bit light(er) on his feet at times. This, of course, is all a good thing and the credit may well go to trainer Joel Diaz, who has recently taken Provodnikov under his wing. If Saturday was any indication, the duo may prove to have a fruitful relationship. Freddie Roach, Provodnikov’s former trainer, definitely brought out the aggression, but Provodnikov’s past few outings indicated the man was a bit lacking in the finesse department.
Again, it’s hard to see how far the fighter has come just yet, for Rodriguez, game though he was, wasn’t at the level of Provodnikov’s usual opponents. Give Provodnikov credit, however, for taking an under the radar fight in order to keep busy rather than forever buzzing about hoping for a big score. Fighters like Guillermo Rigondeaux may, if reports of his refusing offers are accurate, want to take note.
The question now is what’s next for Provodnikov. The welterweight division, where he’s currently fighting, is certainly exciting at the moment. The junior welterweight division is stacked, as well. Indeed, both divisions are so red hot it’s worth wondering if Provodnikov can find a place for himself. Truth be told, he just might be able to if he continues to show improvement.
Provodnikov has always been an exciting, decent fighter. Now he has to become a top level one. Will Diaz help him get there? Time, as always, will tell the tale.