You have to love boxing.
Or, if not love, then at least appreciate the complexity present in the endeavor, as when you see junior welterweight standout Ruslan Provodnikov, wearing a “Siberian Rocky” jacket, receiving blessing from a priest at a ceremony attended by his mom, while in Denver, one day before his clash against Coloradan Mike Alvarado.
HBO captured this scene for their “2 Days: Ruslan Provodnikov” program, which you can watch on The Boxing Channel. http://www.boxingchannel.tv/2-days-ruslan-provodnikov
Provodnikov, from a small village in Siberia called Beryozovo, challenged titlist Alvarado on Oct. 19, 2013, and entered the bout seeking to continue his goal, to achieve “victory over myself, against my fears.” He went a long way in doing that when seven months prior, he engaged in the 2013 Fight of the Year against Timothy Bradley. He had Bradley out on his feet, but the the eventual decision winner was saved by that proverbial bell. That fight announced to the world that Provodnikov was no longer suited for those lower-rent ESPN stages, but in fact deserved to play the big rooms, and get paid for it.
Provodnikov, in the program, notes how disappointed he was to lose to Bradley, but that he was cheered by the comments he saw on the Internet, where people were lauding him without equivocation.
We see Provo discussing his gameplan, and he promises, during the fighter meeting, to do whatever necessary to beat Alvie. “He does believe he's fighting for his people, that he's putting his village on the map,” manager Vadim Kornilov says.
Ruslan does FaceTime with Freddie Roach, his trainer, who is in the Philippines getting Manny Pacquiao ready for a bout, and then we see a hand-wrap issue pop up. Team Provo takes issue with Alvie's wrap-job. The gauze, the tape, all is discussed by the two crews, and Alvie has to re-wrap his hands. The flareup solved, they entered the ring.
Ruslan says it's his duty to satisfy those who back and support him. He does so against Alvie, with both hands thudding on the Coloradan. He sends Alvie down twice, and the hometowner keeps on eating, getting pinned against the ropes, unable to rebuff the Siberian brawler. “I have nothing left,” says Alvie in the corner after his trainer suggests his hopes are nil. The ref comes over and demands to hear it from the fighter himself. Tony Weeks does, and Provo get s TKO10 win. Ruslan yells for his mom, “Mama!” and screams, “I am champion of the world. I don't believe it.”
Please play that for the next person you argue with that boxing is nothing but barbaric, and expresses bewilderment why it exists.
It exists for people like The Siberian Rocky, my friends.
Follow Woods on Twitter. @Woodsy1069