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Ruslan Provodnikov is getting VADA tested with or without Mike Alvarado

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

Thursday night, junior welterweight/welterweight contender Ruslan Provodnikov and his co-manager/translator, Vadim Kornilov, stopped by to talk about his decision to pursue stringent anti-doping testing for his upcoming WBO title fight with Mike Alvarado October 19 at the 1stBank Center in Denver, Colorado live on HBO. Provodnikov and Kornilov have chosen the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) to perform the testing.


I thought about it even before Timothy Bradley offered [to do VADA testing] in our fight,” Provodnikov said through Kornilov. “If you want to win a fight, you better do it with honesty and integrity. If you come into the ring after testing, with all these things out there now that people use, people have been caught with all over boxing . . . big names, big stars have been caught with different things. I think that if you want to win a fight with honesty and integrity then this is one of the things that you have to do. It’s not difficult. It’s not a big deal at all. It’s not a lot of money compared to how much we’re getting paid. And the only reason that people don’t do it is . . . I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to do it.”

“I completely agree with him,” said Kornilov. “Ruslan and I have talked. He told me ’I want to do VADA testing no matter what.’ We had some tough negotiations for the Alvarado fight so we did not get this testing into the contract. The fight was hard enough to make without that. Alvarado said publicly that he would be willing to do it but we’ve been trying to contact them and they’ve been unresponsive. I don’t why. We think it’s the right thing to do. When both fighters know they are clean [they should test to show that]. That’s the way it should be.”




While Alvarado and his team do not oppose testing, the matter has not moved forward on theirs or promoter Top Rank’s end, according to Kornilov and Provodnikov. This writer was told by a source close to the Alvarado camp that they are more than willing to do testing but are unwilling to have that bill charged to them. That’s fair. Alvarado and Provodnikov don’t make Mayweather money. More on cost of testing later.




Kornilov was asked if he left testing out of the negotiations despite his and his clients’ desire to test out of fear that they would lose the fight. Provodnikov is promoted by Banner Promotions, a smaller firm than Top Rank. A dangerous puncher like Provodnikov is already an undesirable opponent for someone looking to stay winning and in the Manny Pacquiao sweepstakes at Top Rank. If he asked for testing too loudly and too often, perhaps he would passed on in favor of another opponent. Leverage is everything in boxing and right now, Ruslan is earning it.




“Not really, I would not say its a fear because in the future . . . hopefully Ruslan wins this fight and [testing] will be part of the negotiations in the beginning. We’re going to put it in the contract. That’s the way it should be done,” said Kornilov. “This fight was not easy to make, I have to admit. It really took some time. I’ve been in the business for some time and for me . . . Artie [Pellulo of Banner Promotions] was doing most of the negotiations with Top Rank [Alvarado’s promoter] but I kind of knew what was going on. So it was a tough time. It took a long time because there were a lot of things that were being negotiated. Luckily, the fight is made and I think it is going to be a great fight. That’s important. We decided not too make it part of the negotiations for this fight. As soon as the fight was made I brought it up and honestly, it was too late to put in the contract.”




Now that the fight is made, testing time is running scarce. To Kornilov the choice to test seems a logical one especially now that all the needs to make the fight have been met.




“Now, it doesn’t really matter if it is in the contract or not. If you don’t have anything to hide, why not do it? I mean, it’s a great thing. I know that everybody likes [testing]. Everybody is talking about it. All the press. All the networks. They like the idea of testing because they like to know that their fighters are fighting with integrity, also. Why not do it?” asked Kornilov.




Kornilov and his team were to meet earlier today and decide their next course of action should Top Rank and Team Alvarado not come to a decision with them on testing.




“We set a deadline two weeks ago until this Friday, where we were going to decide what we wanted to do,” explained Kornilov. “But 99%, even if Alvarado doesn’t decide to do it, we are going to do it. Because, in my opinion, it’s a very good thing and Ruslan agrees and he likes the idea. It’s good for him and it’s good for the opponent, and its good for the entire sport so why not do it? By tomorrow, we are going to decide. Most probably we are going to do it regardless if [Alvarado] does it or not. It should be done together but we might have no choice and we are just going to do it.”




Provodnikov’s last fight was a twelve round war with WBO welterweight titleholder Timothy Bradley. He stunned Bradley on many occasions, put him down late and to many ringside and television observers, won the fight. The decision went to Bradley and had some wondering why. While the decision and fight left questions, the stringent, independent testing provided by VADA through the World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited UCLA Olympic Testing Lab, left none in Provodnikov’s mind. As it should be.




“We’re going to do it because Ruslan wanted his opponent to be tested, he wants to be tested because it doesn’t leave any questions unanswered,” explained Kornilov. “Ruslan always said we won the fight against Timothy Bradley. The only question unanswered is that he thinks the fight is unfinished. He thinks we should have a rematch because ’We needed a little more time and one of us would have won.’ He thinks the fight is unfinished but there are no other questions unanswered. We did testing, we did the weigh-in correctly, we did everything correctly so everything is fine. So he wants to have the same in every fight. He doesn’t want to . . . it doesn’t matter who wins or loses when at least all the other questions are answered. Everybody knows that everybody was tested. The wraps were done correctly. Everybody weighed in the correct way. Then there’s no questions. That’s the way it should be. Then in the ring, the better mans wins. That’s what the sport is about. It’s not about other things. It’s not about other items that can impair or make you better.”




When asked why Provodnikov wanted VADA to do the testing again, Kornilov explained “After talking with our team, our trainers, after getting our information together, we decided VADA because in the Bradley fight, there was some talk of other organizations. We actually wanted VADA and that’s who tested us, first of all. Second of all, Ruslan went through the VADA testing. There were no problems. Everything was done great. There was no distractions. Ruslan was happy so why not use them again? So we’re totally fine with it, you know? We’re comfortable with the way VADA does it.”




Testing is a health and safety issue. Its about making sure that an already dangerous sport is being conducted on as level a playing field as genetics, skill and hard work allows. Having an independent testing organization that is qualified, unbiased, and WADA-accredited handle the testing at an affordable price is essential to upgrading the world’s least regulated sport. Hiring this specialized and proven group should not be a giant mountain to negotiate every time out. Promoters, network execs and fight managers all should be looking to prove that their fights are as clean as possible. On this issue, more and more, the fighters are ahead of the curve.




In regards to cost, what Nevada Executive Director Kieth Kizer is calling “advanced testing,” for the Bradley-Marquez fight (VADA is also testing Bradley) costs a reported $35,000 for them to order from the testing menu available at the Sports Medicine and Research Testing Laboratory. They’ve yet to reveal if the protocols, policies and procedures match what VADA or any other elite testing organization does. Testing at the SMRT lab doesn’t mean you are doing all that they offer. USADA (The United States Anti-Doping Agency) testing costs have ranged in boxing over the years from an estimated $80-100 grad to mor erecently closer to $25,000. The cost here is for both fighters during a training camp. VADA testing would likely cost in the neighborhood of $16,000 to $18,000 based on past VADA-tested fights. Yet they use Carbon Isootope Ratio testing, (detects synthetic testosterone) on every urine sample collected as part of their screening process. Urine is collected each time. They are thus far the only testing organization known to use that as standard protocol. It’s unclear why the other two organizations cost more.




Who pays depends on the fight and fighters involved. Bradley footed the bill for him and Provodnikov. MMA fighter George St. Pierre is paying for his own VADA testing and offered to pay his opponents’ fees. His opponent, Johnny Hendricks, declined. It’s unclear how cost would be worked out in this fight.




“I really think if everybody worked together then it wouldn’t be such a a heavy load on a specific management team or the fighters themselves,” said Kornilov, making a ton of sense. “If we all, the promotional teams, the managers, if we all worked together, it would not be that big of a load and then it could really work.”




Friday night, Kornilov contacted and informed them us Team Provonikov decided to go ahead and pursue VADA testing for the remainder of training. “We still hope Alvarado joins us in testing,” said Kornilov via text.




To hear the unedited radio interview with Provodnikov, Vadim Kornilov and later in the broadcast, Ray Beltran, follow the link. The discuss training camp at the Wild Card, the fight with Alvarado and more.




To hear the latest edition of Maxboxing Live’s The Next Round with Steve Kim and Gabriel Montoya, follow the link. We breakdown the weekend’s action and talk the latest stories in boxing.




Late Friday, Kornilov responded by text that they had decided to move ahead with testing. They still hope Alvarado will join them.






I’ll take the draw in Mayweather vs. Alvarez. Garcia by TKO in 9 and Smith by UD.

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