Ruslan Provodnikov said in the pre-fight buildup to the main event from the FirstBank Center in Bloomfield, Colorado, on Saturday night, and on HBO, that his fight with Mike Alvarado wouldn't be decided by strategy or technical skills. Heart and will would be the difference-maker, he said. He was right; Alvarado sat down after the tenth round a beaten man. His corner said they'd pull the plug, and the ref Tony Weeks walked over and asked Alvarado if he wanted to continue. Weeks didn't hear what he needed to, and ended the affair.
Alvarado was almost spent in round eight, going down twice, but showed his own Mile Wide heart by getting his legs back, and firing back. But body shots sapped Alvarado, and stole energy from him. He simply couldn't shake off the concise shots of the rugged Russian, whose power isn't ultra top tier, but is considerable, when paired with his stamina and stubborn aggressiveness.
The WBO 140 pound champ Alvie was 141 and then came back, and made 139.8 on Friday, while Provo was 139.8 at the weigh-in. Alvie is 33 to 29 for Ruslan, and was 157 on fight night, versus 148 for the Siberian.
The loser went 182-563 to 206-597 for the winner.
After the bout, Max Kellerman spoke to Ruslan (seen in Chris Farina-Top Rank photo tagging Alvarado). The winner said he broke the champ's will because he wanted to please his team. How'd he do it? He had the support of his mom, his loved ones, his team. Freddie Roach helped him immensely, too, he said. He called stand-in Marvin Somodio the “Filipino Freddie Roach.” And next? Let me rest and think on it, he said.
Alvarado to Kellerman declined a post-fight interview, then reconsidered. He said he was cool with the stoppage and admitted he was hurting. His corner did the right thing saving him brain cells, he said. He didn't blame a difficulty making weight, and gave Provo full credit.
In the lead-up, Ruslan said his urine after his last fight, against Tim Bradley, was black, proving how hard he was pushed in that bout. It was good to see a Friday Night Fights staple getting another big stage opportunity. It was also good to see Alvarado, who had some brushes with misbehavior and the ramifications of that, getting to this point, getting to a stage of maturity that allowed him to focus on fighting.
Provo trained with Freddie Roach but Somodia worked his corner, with Roach training Manny Pacquiao for his Nov. 23 clash with Brandon Rios. Alvie last fought against Brandon Rios, winning a UD12, in March, after dropping a TKO7 loss to Rios previously.
Top Rank was lead promoter for the card. Art Pellulo, on a stellar run after his fighter Brian Vera gave a fine account weeks back against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., repped the victor.
One dollar from each ticket sold went to help Colorado flood victims, a nice touch.
In the first, the 34-1 Alvie was backing up. A right hurt Alvie. It was toe to toe from early on. The champ’s corner told him to jab, and don’t be stationary after the frame.
In the second, the 22-2 Provo stalked, as Alvie moved more. A right buzzed Provo, who wasn’t able to cut off the ring so well in this one. The hometowner went lefty some, just to mix it up.
In the third, Mike stood close but was busier, and didn’t let Provo be busy. Late in the round he moved more, and was mixing his game up so smartly.
In the fourth, the lefty Alvie went back and forth. He dipped forward and made Ruslan miss long often and made himself hard to hit by various means. Uppercuts worked for Alvie in tight, and this round was not a “running” round for Mike. Somodio asked for body work after the round.
In the fifth, Ruslan was the busier man. In the sixth, Alvie started busy. Ruslan tossed a succession of left hooks then. Lead rights landed for Mike, who was the smarter boxer in the round.
In the seventh, Alvie dictated distance. He worked body shots, but a sharp right scored late for Provo. The Siberian’s corner told him he was winning after. Some blood appeared on his right eye. Alvie’s right eye was swollen.
In the eighth, Alvie went down, at 1:55, for the first time in his career. Body work, mostly the right, and left hooks, hurt Alvie. He was up at nine plus, very nearly cutting it too close as he looked to get his senses. It was the first time he'd been down, amateur or pro. He went down at 1:16, again. A right to the body hurt me in Brooklyn. About ten shots landed, and he went to a knee. But Alvie got his legs, and fired a left hook, and his eyes looked OK to go on.
In the ninth, Alvie ate some clean shots and also launched his own right. A left hook buzzed the Colorado man. He was told he needed a KO to win after the round.
In the tenth, a right landed for Alvie. But rights to the body looked harsh, by Ruslan. Alvie got buzzed bad late by Ruslan. He went to his corner, and a conversation ensued. “Mike, we gotta stop this fight,” trainer Rudy Hernandez said. “You don't got nothing left. Huh Mike, huh? You don't got nothing left.. OK we're done.” Weeks then came over, seeking confirmation from the fighter himself. “Are you OK?” he asked the champ. “You need to tell me. Tell me you OK? Do you want to continue?” Alvarado didn't seem to answer audibly, though he might have indicated with a shake of his head that he couldn't continue. Weeks saw a beaten man. “That's it, fights over!” he said to the boxer and the world.
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