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

BY Michael Woods ON June 07, 2014
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Ruslan Provodnikov

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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Comment on this article

thegreyman says:

The guy from the humbler background usually wins- sure is true, and I reckon Algieri will be taken to a new reality next week, one that he's not used to and doesn't like.

Algieri will have to avoid fighting for 12 rounds. I can't see that sort of style making him very popular with the home crowd. I see Provo dominating this one, and that 'handsome' face of Algieri's will be a damn site uglier by the end of the scrap. He's simply not ready for the place he's about to be taken... unless he can indeed box the perfect 12 rounds.

Radam G says:

It will be another smashing night for a pug, whose headquarters training site is/was at the Cali Wildcard gym. The Siberian Rocky will be too much for C-Al. Holla!

Skibbz says:

Ruslan is in top shape, he's hungry to get back into the ring and feast on the glory from winning a toe to toe, mano a mano prize fight on a big stage. I've seen Algieri spar a few punchers last year and he looked improved from his last fight, but sparring is one thing and facing the Russian brutaliser in the ring with no head gear and small gloves is something completely different.

Nothing other than Christopher's will and resolve will be tested next Saturday. For all of his attributes, as Ruslan said he can't run forever. Ruslan will find him, cut him off and then start working on his ribs trying to get to his organs, he will thud shots at Algieri's dome trying to knock him senseless for in front of Ruslan for the first time in his career he has someone trying to take from him his world title...

No doubting the fact that Algieri will come in great shape.. But fortunately the judges aren't scoring the boxers on their physiques. I don't think we'll even need the judges next Sat... Ruslan T K O!

deepwater2 says:

Chris A has one chance, out jab Ruslan 3-1 and move, hopefully for Chris A. Ruslan gets a cut and the Dr stops it after 4 rounds with Chris A up a point. Other then that Chris A should be steamrolled at some point.

thegreyman says:

Chris A has one chance, out jab Ruslan 3-1 and move, hopefully for Chris A. Ruslan gets a cut and the Dr stops it after 4 rounds with Chris A up a point. Other then that Chris A should be steamrolled at some point.


He'll also have to avoid getting caught on the ropes- that will spell a quick end for him in there. Not sure he has to boxing skills to keep himself from getting beat up on Saturday, but we'll see.

Skibbz says:

@Deep he can't keep it up not against Ruslan's pressure. He's a steamroll waiting to happen.. 6 days and counting.

@Grey He's got skills, I don't think we can really dispute the fact he has some skill. But the thing is can he use what skill he has effectively and actively against non stop pressure coming from the Siberian Rocky. I doubt it.

thegreyman says:

@Deep he can't keep it up not against Ruslan's pressure. He's a steamroll waiting to happen.. 6 days and counting.

@Grey He's got skills, I don't think we can really dispute the fact he has some skill. But the thing is can he use what skill he has effectively and actively against non stop pressure coming from the Siberian Rocky. I doubt it.


He has skill yes, but I don't think it will be enough to keep Provodnikov away. He'll be worn down pretty quickly. Provodnikov doesn't move his feet too quick, but he can cut off the ring to elite level fighters, and I have no doubt he'll do it effectively against Algieri.

Skibbz says:

He has skill yes, but I don't think it will be enough to keep Provodnikov away. He'll be worn down pretty quickly. Provodnikov doesn't move his feet too quick, but he can cut off the ring to elite level fighters, and I have no doubt he'll do it effectively against Algieri.


His feet aren't the quickest but they're quick enough to have you on your toes. As you say he moves intelligently in the ring and cuts off his opponent, so even his not so quick feet can take him within range of landing those chopping punches...

The thing with Ruslan is he's not even trying to finish you in the first. He's just coming at you to break your will, he thuds hard enough slowly and slowly until the tree falls. As the opponent gets weaker and starts to fade Ruslan senses blood and gets stronger turning up the heat.

deepwater2 says:

His feet aren't the quickest but they're quick enough to have you on your toes. As you say he moves intelligently in the ring and cuts off his opponent, so even his not so quick feet can take him within range of landing those chopping punches...

The thing with Ruslan is he's not even trying to finish you in the first. He's just coming at you to break your will, he thuds hard enough slowly and slowly until the tree falls. As the opponent gets weaker and starts to fade Ruslan senses blood and gets stronger turning up the heat.


I give Chris .5% chance of winning . Basically no chance . Only if the fight gets stopped in the 4th round and they go to the scorecards. Chris will be signing up for full time medical school in the fall after this . No more boxing!

brownsugar says:

Chris Algieri is a banger...not a hard hitter, but a guy who really tries to land a lot of punches. He can't resist slugging during part of the round and diving into the pocket to rip combinations.

He reminds me of Arturo Gatti with better mobility and quicker hands.
A good style matchup because eventually he will begin slugging and trading.

If Chris moved like Miguel Vasquez I'd say Provodnikov had no chance, but Chris wont be very difficult for Ruslan to close the distance with.

Should be very entertaining while it lasts.

Skibbz says:

Chris Algieri is a banger...not a hard hitter, but a guy who really tries to land a lot of punches. He can't resist slugging during part of the round and diving into the pocket to rip combinations.

He reminds me of Arturo Gatti with better mobility and quicker hands.
A good style matchup because eventually he will begin slugging and trading.

If Chris moved like Miguel Vasquez I'd say Provodnikov had no chance, but Chris wont be very difficult for Ruslan to close the distance with.

Should be very entertaining while it lasts.


As the fight approaches i've watched as much footage of Algieri as I can both in training and in the ring. He is slick and I can see what you mean by his resemblance to Gatti.. He seems like a genuinely nice guy with a strong focus and drive to succeed. He will not be so easy to break for Ruslan as I first imagined but we will never know until they meet in the ring.

Where I see Algieri going wrong is underestimate Ruslan's ability in general. He mistakenly believes that what you see is what you get with the Russian and that there are no real subtleties in his game. Whilst I agree that Ruslan is predominately a come forward fighter who loves to brawl, mixed with all of that is a very good ability to bob and weave, loop a heavy right hand and fire sneaky, often underestimated left uppercut that catches a lot of boxers by surprise.

He's also uncanny in the way he can sense where his opponent is at mentally, once they're broken he's onto them like a bolt of lightning only stopping when they drop.

If Algieri wins this, which he has a sure chance of doing then I will fancy him improving if he faces guys with solid backgrounds. The only problem is that Algieri isn't used to boxing (kickboxing or other martial arts are not boxing) as much as other boxers at this level. He may train and eat better than other boxers but he hasn't been in the business as long, Ruslan has been fighting with just his fists since he was small, that's something that will keep him fighting on but Algieri is a convert and he's not so purely molded by the sport.. Make of that what you will but personally I think it will count for a lot when the heat is really up.

brownsugar says:

Should be a good fight.... They both like to punch and Algieri doesn't move so much as to stink out a fight like Vasquez. I'm looking forward to it. I think Ruslan will catch him in the second half of the fight by throwing "high percentage" shots and being more consistant on offence.

From what I've seen of Algieri he doesnt seem to be on the same level as Provodnikov...but the deficit isnt huge.

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