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Provodnikov Ready as Ever for Alvarado

(Photo © German Villasenor)
(Photo © German Villasenor)


From his training camp with Manny Pacquiao back in 2012 to his war this past March with WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley, junior welterweight/welterweight contender Ruslan Provodnikov has understood more and more what kind of preparation is necessary to perform at the elite level. In doing so, his team of co-managers Vadim Kornilov and Andrei Napolskikh has grown, now including Hall of Fame coach Freddie Roach and Gavin MacMillan, who handles strength and conditioning. Though he did not get the decision over Bradley in March, Provodnikov has earned fight fans’ respect and has scratched the surface of elite air. To get that never level of recognition, Provodnikov will have to get through Denver native and WBO junior welterweight champion “Mile High” Mike Alvarado on Saturday night on HBO from the 1STBANK Center in Denver, Colorado.
 
Going into enemy territory doesn’t bother the Beryozovo, Russia native. Losing doesn’t either. If the hardnosed power-puncher fears anything, it’s not executing at the highest level after preparing to.

“I’m not afraid of losing,” Provodnikov told Maxboxing.com through Kornilov via phone from Denver earlier this week. “The worst thing for me is not to do what everybody expects of me. That’s probably the most important thing. I don’t want to be a disappointment to my team and to everybody else by not trying to do everything I can to win the fight. Those are probably the only two things.”
 
When people speak of Provodnikov vs. Bradley, they speak of Bradley not fighting the right fight and nearly paying the price. The general consensus seems Bradley went looking for a fight and that played right into Provodnikov’s hands. This past Saturday, in beating Juan Manuel Marquez over 12 rounds of a controlled chess match, the thought is Bradley returned to his normal style. Provodnikov’s view slightly differs.
 
“I think the way Bradley fought is because Marquez allowed him to fight the way he fought. I don’t think Bradley really changed that much. I think Marquez just has a different style than I do. Marquez gave him the chances that he wanted in boxing because [Bradley] is a great boxer,” said Provodnikov.
 
From the outset, Provodnikov came right at Bradley, attacking with a sneaky right hand that shot from the shoulder as Ruslan dipped and bored into his opponent’s range. A relentless pressure fighter, Provodnikov doesn’t give you room to box for very long. While Bradley was accommodating, Alvarado, who used movement and more boxing than slugging in outpointing Brandon Rios in March, likely won’t be. Alvarado is 5’9” with a 69.5” reach to Provodnikov’s 5’6” and 66” reach. For as long as possible, Alvarado will likely attempt to keep the fight a controlled boxing match.
 
Provodnikov feels prepared to handle whatever may come.
 
“If he tries to box, I think that would be an advantage to me because [Alvarado] is not close to being as good a boxer as Bradley because Bradley is probably one of the best boxers in the game if we are just talking about his boxing,” said Provodnikov. “I think Alvarado loves to fight just like I do. Trying to do what you don’t want to do usually might play a bad trick against you. And I can actually find boxers. I’ve done it before and I think I will be able to do it again if that’s what he wants.”
 
One thing that might truly separate the two men is experience. Provodnikov started boxing at age 10 while Alvarado came to sport much later after deciding to not pursue a college wrestling career. Provodnikov feels that in terms of pro experience, both men are about equal.
 
“I started boxing when I was 10. I probably have more experience boxing but [Alvarado] has had great opponents; he’s had a great career. He’s very seasoned. We’ll see October 19 who is better in the ring,” he said.
 
I asked Provodnikov what he does on fight day to prepare mentally.
 
“Before a fight, I just rest a lot, sleep a lot, just recover. If there is one thing I do on the day of the fight, around three or four hours before the fight, I watch the movie called “Knockdown” [Writer’s note: “Cinderella Man” is the American title] with Russell Crowe,” said Provodnikov. “I’ve done it for a lot of my fights and it just gives me a lot of motivation and encouragement to get ready for the fight.”
 
To prepare for the fight and Denver’s high altitude of 5,280 feet (comparatively, Los Angeles, where Provodnikov trains, is roughly 233 feet above sea level), the team had Provodnikov run twice a week in Big Bear, CA and then traveled right after Miguel Cotto’s win over Delvin Rodriguez on the fifth of October. MacMillan had Provodnikov use a hyperbaric chamber at Red Bull headquarters in Santa Monica. More on that tomorrow on Maxboxing.com.
 
They’ve left nothing to chance here in terms of Provodnikov’s preparation, especially one important aspect: anti-doping tests. For the second fight in a row, Provodnikov is undergoing random anti-doping tests as performed by VADA, the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association. Provodnikov joins Bradley, Georges St. Pierre, Edwin Rodriguez, Nonito Donaire, Brandon Rios and Manny Pacquiao on the list of fighters actively using VADA. Floyd Mayweather Jr. also undergoes anti-doping testing and has since his 2010 fight with Shane Mosley. They are all part of a wave of fighters who have stopped waiting for boxing’s powers that be to clean up the sport. Instead, they’ve begun doing it themselves.
 
To Provodnikov, undergoing the testing is a statement to his fans and assurance that however he performs, it was due to natural training unassisted by performance-enhancing drugs.
 
“Ruslan is a big supporter of cleaning up the sport,” said Kornilov. “There’s been a lot of situations where some of the fighters have been revealed in the last couple of years. And Ruslan is all about being very honest in his life, his business and his work and he wants to make sure that there are no questions and there are no concerns. That’s why he wants to do the testing for every fight. I think it gives a lot of fans the confidence that they are watching a real fight and not [thinking about] only [the] fighter being on something. There’s been a lot of problems with it in the last couple of years. Ruslan feels he is doing the right thing. He wants to promote it and wants to make sure that his opponents, as much as he can get them to do it, do the same.”
 
All things considered, Team Provodnikov also prepared for the possibility that Roach may not join them on fight night due to his training responsibilities with Pacquiao in the Philippines. On fight night, Roach’s assistant, Marvin Somodio will likely run the corner.
 
“We knew from the beginning of training that Freddie might not be able to make it because of an obligation to Manny. We started training camp a little early to make sure we had a full, eight-week training with Freddie,” said Kornilov. “All the work, all the technique, all the strategy was done during that eight weeks. Ruslan is 100% prepared for this fight. Freddie most likely won’t be in the corner. It is possible he may fly in on the day of the fight. Marvin Somodio is the head assistant for Freddie. He has been with us all through training camp, watching and learning and understanding everything that Freddie wants Ruslan to do. I am sure that he will 100% be able to deal with what goes inside the ring. And Ruslan says that he already knows exactly what needs to be done. All the work is done and he is not worried at all about Freddie not being there. He knows that Freddie has obligations to Manny that are very important as well.”
 
All that is left is the weigh-in and the fight. Never one to predict but always one to be prepared, Provodnikov brings his experience, confidence and the assurance that he has done all he can to take this most important step.
 
“I can never know how the fight will go until we are in the ring,” he explained. “But I know I am ready for anything. We’ll know on the day of the fight. We’ll see how it goes.”
 
You can email Gabriel at maxgmontoya@gmail.com, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gabriel_montoya and catch him every Monday on “The Next Round” with Steve Kim, now at its new home, www.blogtalkradio.com/thenextround. You can also tune in to hear him and co-host David Duenez live on the BlogTalk radio show Leave-It-In-The-Ring.com, Thursdays at 5-8 p.m., PST.
 
 

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