Ferocious Provodnikov beats down Alvarado to win WBO Title
By Peter Wells
Ever had the same nightmare twice, even after you were convinced you vanquished your demons? If so then you’re not alone, Mike Alvarado can understand exactly where you’re coming from. Like an actor being cast in both Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street, Alvarado has now met the nightmarish fists of both Brandon Rios and Ruslan Provodnikov.
Having bested Rios last time out the warrior from Denver thought he had seen it all. That was before he met the monster that lies in Provodnikov, a fighter that seems to retract punches like a politician retracts good ideas. Beating Provodnikov seems so simple in theory but not so in practice.
Ruslan Provodnikov beat down Alvarado to force a stoppage at the end of the 10th round. Alvarado had already hit the canvas twice and had begun to see the fight drift away from him after an even first 7 rounds – I had Alvarado 1 point up going into the game-changing 8th session.
The drama that took place in the 8th round betters the final scene of every horror movie ever made. For spectators the round seemed to last an age, so for Alvarado it must have lasted a lifetime. Like Soul music every time you witness that round it will send shivers down your spine.
Prior to the 8th round in the 1st stanza Provodnikov hurt Alvarado with a clubbing right hand. The American covered up and even fought back bravely once he had regained his senses. The following 3 stanza’s swung in Mike’s favour as he boxed smartly, planting his feet to fire his own hurtful combinations. Provodnikov wore a face that bore frustration.
Everything began to change though in the 5th as Alvarado’s work rate dropped only slightly but enough to allow Provodnikov to cut the ring off that little bit easier and suddenly the war was beginning to take place on the inside. Alvarado was still very effective but Provodnikov was starting to chop Alvarado down with crunching hooks to the mid-section. Alvarado ended the session with a short flurry, Provodnikov didn’t even blink.
Provodnikov stung Alvarado again in the 6th but Alvarado worked well landing solid shots of his own which still had no effect on the Russian, apart from the clear marking around both eyes. The intensity was spell binding as both were loading up with almost every shot. Alvarado was being dragged into a war and reminiscence of Alvarado-Rios 1 began to transcend.
Alvarado had a very effective 7th round, pounding away at Provodnikov, the Russian being slightly less active, before Mike walked onto a hard right hand just before the bell.
Then came the beginning of the end as far as Alvarado was concerned. A crushing left hand had Alvarado reeling and Provodnikov was in no mood to let him go. Alvarado was stuck against the ropes and referee Tony Weeks must have been thinking seriously about stopping the fight, but acknowledging Alvarado’s heart allowed it to continue before Alvarado finally sank to the canvas.
It looked for a moment that Alvarado would not rise before the count of 10 but rose at the very last, and Weeks rightly gave the fighters the benefit of the doubt. Alvarado was brave but was also fatigued badly. Provodnikov charged forward as he had done all night but he swung wildly throwing caution to the wind. Several more thunderous shots and Alvarado was down again, this time rising at 8 with just over a minute of the round still remaining. Provodnikov then seemed to be looking too precisely for the one punch to end the fight which ultimately allowed Alvarado to regain his senses. But instead of running or spoiling Alvarado continued to fight fire with fire, even landing some good shots of his own. Heart rates rose to a level usually associated with an 800m race. I cannot recall such drama in a single round since round 12 of Sergio Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
In the next it was obvious that Alvarado was fighting off instinct, he slowed the pace down considerably but was wobbled again late in the round by a left hook. Provodnikov was just biding his time.
The 10th followed a similar pattern, Alvarado no longer had his legs underneath him and several more thudding punches left him reeling. The courage of Alvarado was nothing short of inspirational, but thankfully at the end of the 10th round one of the bravest fighters in boxing was saved from himself.
Provodnikov now 23-2(16) is the new WBO Light Welterweight champion and a match-up with Top Rank promoted brawler Brandon Rios has the potential to be one of the greatest fights of all time – and that is no over-reaction. As for Alvarado 34-2(23) this warrior is in need of a long rest, a chance to enjoy the Christmas holidays before deciding on his next step. Maybe a slightly less destructive opponent in his next fight would be welcome.
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