Provodnikov ready to rumble again
Ruslan Provodnikov is called the ‘Siberian Rocky’ for a reason. The former WBO super-lightweight champion has an all-action style which has captivated fans around the boxing world, aligned with a cast iron chin. And Provodnikov is back on the title trail with a 11 June showdown with another fan favourite John Molina Jr at the Turning Stone resort and Casino in Verona, New York.
Despite his rumbling reputation, Provodnikov (25-4, 18 KOS) displayed a slightly more considered style against last opponent Jesus Rodriguez. “Training with Joel [Diaz] has had an effect with me.” Provodnikov told Boxing Monthly via manager and translator Vadim Kornilov.
“Any time a fighter changes a trainer there is always a difference, I think that is usual. I made the transition because I needed a change, you never really know for sure if it will be a change for the better or for worse, but we will see in my upcoming fights.
“I feel better in the ring and better defensively. I definitely think that I'm improving in certain things. Joel is very persistent. [My preparation involves] conditioning with my trainer Nick Curson throughout the camp and I start working with my boxing trainer about eight weeks prior to camps with sparring starting a little after that.”
Provodnikov has not faced a major opponent since an 18 April 2015 loss to Lucas Matthysee in a ‘fight of the year’ contender. Whilst he has been linked to numerous big names and champions, nothing has come to fruition. BM asked the Russian if it was accurate that he was an avoided fighter.
“Yes, unfortunately most guys do not want to fight me, but that is part of the business, I guess,” he told BM. “Sometimes it is [frustrating], but what can I do? I just wait for my team to give me the date and I'm ready to start camp any time against anybody.”
Manager Vadim Kornilov shed some light on how the Molina fight was finally arranged. “[Promoter] Artie Pelullo and I were discussing possible opponents for Ruslan and this was one of the guys who was offered by the network. We know that Ruslan cannot be in a bad fight unless the other guy doesn't want to fight, and Molina comes to fight so he was the perfect guy to put together for another fight of the year type.”
BM asked Kornilov if managing both Provodnikov and another premier super-lightweight - WBC world champion Viktor Postol - presented any issues. “Not at all,” he said. “Both guys are very successful fighters, there is a lot of opposition in these divisions as we know, so there is no problem in matching these guys with other guys.
“The difficulty is that most other guys don't want to fight Ruslan and Postol, but I'm very glad that Showtime is offering to put together the fights that the fans want to see for Ruslan, and that Top Rank is willing to match Postol with guys even if they are not so anxious to fight him, this is the way boxing should be.
“I think with Postol fighting [WBO champion] Terrence Crawford and Ruslan fighting Molina in the summer nobody will say that either of those four guys are cherry-picking. These are both very competitive fights for all fighters involved and all fights that fans are wanting to see and have asked for.
“We have very big plans for Ruslan in the near future [providing Provodnikov wins]. Showtime has given us a plan for Ruslan and I don't think we will have to go looking for fights or guys to fight Ruslan anymore. I think that the network will support Ruslan in getting him the fights that the fans want to see.”
However, the team are clearly not taking anything for granted. “[I expect] a very tough fight [vs Molina],“ was Ruslan’s view. “We are both very strong and both go forward and never give up. This is the type of style I like. No running and no judges in this one. No doubt [this could be another classic].
The stacked 140lbs division is certainly on fire at the moment, with an engaging mixture of characters and styles, and Provodnikov looks likely to be a cornerstone of that division moving forward. Roll on 11 June.