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In NYC, Ruslan Admits He Loves Rumbles, Algieri Says Ne Needs To Fight Perfect Fight

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Russian Ruslan Provodnikov’s rep is in a high spot right now.

Siberian Rocky.

Walk over a bed of molten coals to get to his foe, and won’t care if you make him sip napalm from his water bottle in between rounds.

If he gets past Chris Algieri (19-0) on June 14 at Barclays Center, and Juan Manuel Marquez plays mega-hardball with Top Rank over booking another fight against Manny Pacquiao, then Provo (23-0) is at the top of the list to get a Pacman lotto ticket, that $6 or so million buck scratchoff which solidifies a families’ finances win lose or draw.

Provo chatted with media at Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse in NYC, a couple blocks from the Garden, and the hitter said many of the same things that make him a new fan favorite. He told us he doesn’t get as excited to fight a guy like Algieri, who told me he knows he needs to fight the perfect boxing match to win, because he thinks Algieri will run a lot. “It’s not as motivating,” Provo said, through interpreter and manager Vadim Kornilov, the baby faced dealmaker. He’d rather rumble is his basic stance, and god bless him for that. Skills pay the bills, but dancing is for the stars. The people want it like Wall Street…they want trading, ebb n flow, back and forth. Provo will give them that…Algieri, he’s not as keen on that concept.

“He can’t run forever,” said Provo, the facial muscles not betraying any emotion beyond intensity. Yep, he’d prefer a toe to toe tangle, God bless him.

He also said, “I still feel like a challenger,” and he trains like one. He wants to chase and hunt down Algieri. “This fight will show how many fans I can attract. Brooklyn feels like my second home and I hope to make it my second home, much like Cotto has Madison Square Garden.”

The boxer also said he wants to make an impact, wants to fight only big bouts, and then wants to get out sooner rather than later.

Interestingly, he said his mom won’t be here for this fight, and he didn’t want her there for the last one.

He said he recites poetry in his head as he goes to the ring. Also, he craves the respect of the fans more than he loves the belt.

He said his amateur trainer saved his life, because otherwise he would have maybe followed in the footsteps of friends who stole food, drank, sniffed glue, etc.

He also said the governor in his region is helping build a sporting complex, which will be in his name.

Algieri, an immensely well spoken sort who has an advanced degree in nutrition, and held court on how to eat right for TSS’s Thomas Hauser, and a few other tappers, has a good chance to win, according to Top Rank’s Bob Arum. He said the other day that he’d love to make an Algieri-Pacquiao fight, and him being no fool, you can’t take issue with that.

The marketing folks think they’d like to get around 8,000 customers in for the June 14 Barclays card, and are making the rounds of the Russian enclaves to introduce people to Provo, to lure them into buying a ticket to see the action hero in action. An Algieri win, he would sell himself to a demo that hasn’t been all that well served of late, and over time. He described himself as part of the .1% in the boxing world, from a good middle class home, living in well-heeled Huntington, LI, not the sort of product fashioned in that proverbial ghetto, fashioning a fighter who fights out of necessity, not out of simple desire.

Promoter Joe DeGuardia told me he feels the same way he did before his guy fought then undefeated Roy Jones Jr., like the underdog is going to flip the script…and then, DeGuardia said, Team Algieri can request a re-write, and see the fat offers roll in.

A couple years ago, Provo was a Friday Night Fights staple, a quite-solid but unexceptional hitter. But he demanded a higher stature when he rumbled like a madman against Tim Bradley, and HBO fell in love with him because he represents what that braintrust desires to put on their cards…fighters. Rumblers. I asked Algieri after he chowed if he thinks Provo is a bit overrated, if we all over-hype his bad-assness. “We will know June 14. I won’t know until June 14,” he said, smartly. “Is he the killer, or the Friday Night Fights guy? I’m going to go out and be who I am no matter which guy shows up,” he said. “This is a no mistakes kind of fight…I have to go out, and be perfect.”

The Long Islander said both men need to stay focused, keep to their plan.

I noted that I sensed a deep confidence in him, that he breathes easily, and believes in himself. “Yes, I’ve heard that a lot of guys who have interviewed me, and coaches,” he said. He said he has always been confident, and that has increased as he has kept on winning. He told me he does possess some doubt, not fear but doubt, when a fight is first signed. But, as his prep work plays out, that doubt diminishes.

The New Yorker joked with me, and asked, “How is it that I have stayed so handsome to this point in my career?” after I asked him to ask himself a question that no press has asked. He said in fact he thinks about that before every sparring match. Fighters possess courage, and go through more than any other athletes, he said, and thus deserve more press, more respect.

We talked more about being that .1%…and we agreed that usually, eight times out of ten, the guy who comes from less than nothing, from those beyond humble circumstances, usually wins the fight. Provo hails from a proverbial place of humility, and yep, he could be one of the eight out of ten.

“Back to Long Island,” Algieri announced, as he exited the restaurant.

Promoter Pelullo was asked about Freddie Roach saying he’d work Pacman’s corner over Provo’s if the two gloved up in the fall. That is as it should be, the promoter said, because “he worked with him longest.”

“The winner of this fight will be in line to fight Pacquiao. And if Algieri wins, that’s a major upset, and that would help push toward a Pacquiao fight,” he said. Pelullo also said the recent Golden Boy upheaval could result in some loosening up of possibles, as, he said, maybe a guy like Danny Garcia has more room to operate. “Maybe they could bring him to HBO,” he said, as HBO exec Peter Nelson sat two seats away, chewing on a grilled veggie plate, and not taking the opportunity to chime in. I looked at him for a response, and he joked, “The music’s too loud..didn’t hear what he said.”

A Provo win could easily mean that Russian gets invited back to Barclays, so but of course Pelullo is hoping he gets the job done June 14. “Hopefully I will be back. Winning will be a key factor.” He said the Russian media has been taking to Russian, and win, lose or draw, he will do a press tour in Russia after the fight.

Nelson did weigh in when I asked about Provos’ appeal. He called his style “the consummate telegenic style.” He lauded the Russian, noted how Pelullo helped guide him, how he impressed everyone with efforts against Tim Bradley and Mike Alvarado.

Nelson, Pelullo, author Geoffrey Gray and others at the table talked a bit about how what sells, what style speaks to fans and draws buzz these days. Nelson said times are changing, that a guy doesn’t get written off after a loss, that effort, and how you fight can mean as much as anything.

We talked some about what fighters transcend and Pelullo owes me a coke, after a bet him that the older gent on the first floor, who might be around 80, doesn’t have a clue who Manny Pacquiao is.

As the gathering broke up, Pelullo hugged Provo, and promised to make it for Provo’s annual boxing tourney back home. He said when he visits Russia, he has fun there without Provo, because Provo doesn’t drink.

I followed Provo outside, asking him for his take on trainer Freddie Roach telling me he would be in Pacman’s corner if Manny and Ruslan rumble. “I’m so focused on my June 14 fight,” he told me, “after that we will see how it goes.”

A young lady walking down the street with her guy saw Ruslan, and squealed. “You’re my favorite fighter!” she said, before posing for a snapshot.

OK, so maybe the old guy didn’t know Pacman, but a random lady on an NYC street had her heart flutter when she saw the Siberian Rocky. No, boxing ain’t dead, it never was dead, it probably never will be dead, so anyone telling you that, dismiss them for the fools they are.

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2015 Fight of the Year – Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura

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The WBC World Super Featherweight title bout between Francisco Vargas and Takashi Miura came on one of the biggest boxing stages of 2015, as the bout served as the HBO pay-per-view’s co-main event on November 21st, in support of Miguel Cotto vs Saul Alvarez.

Miura entered the fight with a (29-2-2) record and he was making the fifth defense of his world title, while Vargas entered the fight with an undefeated mark of (22-0-1) in what was his first world title fight. Both men had a reputation for all-out fighting, with Miura especially earning high praise for his title defense in Mexico where he defeated Sergio Thompson in a fiercely contested battle.

The fight started out hotly contested, and the intensity never let up. Vargas seemed to win the first two rounds, but by the fourth round, Miura seemed to pull ahead, scoring a knock-down and fighting with a lot of confidence. After brawling the first four rounds, Miura appeared to settle into a more technical approach. Rounds 5 and 6 saw the pendulum swing back towards Vargas, as he withstood Miura’s rush to open the fifth round and the sixth round saw both men exchanging hard punches.

The big swinging continued, and though Vargas likely edged Miura in rounds 5 and 6, Vargas’ face was cut in at least two spots and Miura started to assert himself again in rounds 7 and 8. Miura was beginning to grow in confidence while it appeared that Vargas was beginning to slow down, and Miura appeared to hurt Vargas at the end of the 8th round.

Vargas turned the tide again at the start of the ninth round, scoring a knock down with an uppercut and a straight right hand that took Miura’s legs and sent him to the canvas. Purely on instinct, Miura got back up and continued to fight, but Vargas was landing frequently and with force. Referee Tony Weeks stepped in to stop the fight at the halfway point of round 9 as Miura was sustaining a barrage of punches.

Miura still had a minute and a half to survive if he was going to get out of the round, and it was clear that he was not going to stop fighting.

A back and forth battle of wills between two world championship level fighters, Takashi Miura versus “El Bandido” Vargas wins the 2015 Fight of the Year.

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Jan 9 in Germany – Feigenbutz and De Carolis To Settle Score

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This coming Saturday, January 9th, the stage is set at the Baden Arena in Offenburg, Germany for a re-match between Vincent Feigenbutz and Giovanni De Carolis. The highly anticipated re-match is set to air on SAT.1 in Germany, and Feigenbutz will once again be defending his GBU and interim WBA World titles at Super Middleweight.

The first meeting between the two was less than three months ago, on October 17th and that meeting saw Feigenbutz controversially edge De Carolis on the judge’s cards by scores of (115-113, 114-113 and 115-113). De Carolis scored a flash knock down in the opening round, and he appeared to outbox Feigenbutz in the early going, but the 20 year old German champion came on in the later rounds.

The first bout is described as one of the most crowd-pleasing bouts of the year in Germany, and De Carolis and many observers felt that the Italian had done enough to win.

De Carolis told German language website RAN.DE that he was more prepared for the re-match, and that due to the arrogance Feigenbutz displayed in the aftermath of the first fight, he was confident that he had won over some of the audience. Though De Carolis fell short of predicting victory, he promised a re-vamped strategy tailored to what he has learned about Feigenbutz, whom he termed immature and inexperienced.

The stage is set for Feigenbutz vs De Carolis 2, this Saturday January 9th in Offenburg, Germany. If you can get to the live event do it, if not you have SAT.1 in Germany airing the fights, and The Boxing Channel right back here for full results.

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2015 Knock Out of the Year – Saul Alvarez KO’s James Kirkland

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On May 9th of 2015, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez delivered a resonant knock-out of James Kirkland on HBO that wins the 2015 KO of the Year.

The knock-out itself came in the third round, after slightly more than two minutes of action. The end came when Alvarez delivered a single, big right hand that caught Kirkland on the jaw and left him flat on his back after spinning to the canvas.Alvarez was clearly the big star heading into the fight. The fight was telecast by HBO for free just one week after the controversial and disappointing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao fight, and Alvarez was under pressure to deliver the type of finish that people were going to talk about. Kirkland was happy to oblige Alvarez, taking it right to Alvarez from the start. Kirkland’s aggression saw him appear to land blows that troubled the young Mexican in the early going. Alvarez played good defense, and he floored Kirkland in the first round, displaying his power and his technique in knocking down an aggressive opponent.

However, Kirkland kept coming at Alvarez and the fight entered the third round with both men working hard and the feeling that the fight would not go the distance. Kirkland continued to move forward, keeping “Canelo” against the ropes and scoring points with a barrage of punches while looking for an opening.

At around the two minute mark, Alvarez landed an uppercut that sent Kirkland to the canvas again. Kirkland got up, but it was clear that he did not have his legs under him. Kirkland was going to try to survive the round, but Alvarez had an opportunity to close out the fight. The question was would he take it?

Alvarez closed in on Kirkland, putting his opponent’s back to the ropes. Kirkland was hurt, but he was still dangerous, pawing with punches and loading up for one big shot.

But it was the big shot “Canelo” threw that ended the night. Kirkland never saw it coming, as he was loading up with a huge right hand of his own. The right Alvarez threw cracked Kirkland in the jaw, and his eyes went blank. His big right hand whizzed harmlessly over the head of a ducking Alvarez, providing the momentum for the spin that left Kirkland prone on the canvas.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez went on to defeat Miguel Cotto in his second fight of 2015 and he is clearly one of boxing’s biggest stars heading into 2016. On May 9th Alvarez added another reel to his highlight film when he knocked out James Kirkland with the 2015 “Knock Out of the Year”.

Photo by naoki fukuda

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