Live on Box Nation from 02:00 in the early hours of Sunday morning, two of boxing’s hardest-hitters go head-to-head as Ruslan Provodnikov faces Lucas Matthysse in a hotly-anticipated light-welterweight clash at New York’s Turning Stone Resort and Casino.
Provodnikov vs Matthysse Tale of the Tape
Ruslan Provodnikov: 24-3 (17 KO)
Born in a small Siberian village, 31-year-old Ruslan Provodnikov made a staggeringly long ten-hour trip to train as a boxer and had an impressive amateur career by winning 130 of his 150 fights. Touted as a potential star, the Russian boxer was taken to American by his management team and trained by the legendary – and still active – Freddie Roach.
Very much a one-dimensional boxer who stands and trades in the middle of the ring, Provodnikov nonetheless improved dramatically under Roach’s tutelage and won his first seventeen fights, scoring a series of highlight reel KO’s in the process.
But then, after fighting Mauricio Herrera – a tricky fighter who’s not a hard-hitter or really an elite level fighter – Provodnikov lost for the first time as a professional after being outboxed and losing a unanimous points decision.
Four easy knockout wins and a points decision victory over De Marcus Corley followed, before the Russian was granted his first career world title shot against the then WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley in March 2013.
Staggering his opponent with hard shots in the early rounds, Provodnikov looked to be on his way to a surprise KO win against one of the world’s best boxers – a man who, albeit controversially, had beaten Manny Pacquiao in his last fight – but Bradley, despite being downed in the final round, recovered to box his way to a close points win.
That bout was named Ring magazine’s 2013 fight of the year, and Provodnikov’s no-nonsense style had garnered the attention of even casual boxing fans in the US, so the Russian hardman who apparently used to hunt wild game in the cold Russian mountains and is nicknamed ‘The Siberian Rocky’ for his toughness, was granted another world title shot, but this time at light-welterweight against another no-nonsense hardman in Mike Alvarado.
In what was one of the most brutal fights I’ve seen in some time, a give-and-take contest ensued in which Provodnikov emerged victorious after twice knocking his opponent down in the eighth round and seeing a badly bruised and beaten Alvarado retire on his stool at the end of the tenth.
So, Provodnikov was now the WBO light-welterweight champ and set about his first defence by taking on a relatively unknown fighter who was tall and thin with little punching power called Chris Algieri.
Ruslan was expected to walk Algieri down and score an easy KO win, but after knocking his opponent down twice in the early rounds and seemingly on his way to an easy win, Provodnikov continued plodding forward while Algieri – who pretty much had one eye swelled shut – managed to use the ring to his advantage and sensationally outpointed the Russian to take his belt.
After giving every opponent he’ll ever fight a clear idea of how to beat him by telling the post-bout interviewer that he can only fight well and win against opponents who stand and trade punches with him, Provodnikov was granted a match against another hard puncher in Lucas Matthysse.
Lucas Matthysse: 36-3 (34 KO)
Nicknamed ‘The Machine,’ Lucas Matthysse hails from Chubut, Argentina and is 32-year-old boxer who fought in the 2003 Pan American Games as an amateur and defeated one of Amir Khan’s conquerors in Breidis Prescott.
Impressing with his punching power, the Argentine won his first twenty-two bouts within the distance before his fight with Rogelio Castaneda was ruled a no-contest after an accidental clash of heads opened a cut on Castaneda face.
After his first points win in the pro ranks, against fellow Argentine Carlos Adan Jerez, Matthysse scored four more KO wins – including a rematch defeat of Castaneda – before being matched with former world champion Zab Judah in 2010.
While awkward southpaw Judah is an erratic fighter that’s considered to be mentally weak, he gave Floyd Mayweather a hard time in their bout before losing, and the man nicknamed ‘Super Judah’ earned a controversial split decision points win over Matthysse, despite being knocked down in the tenth round.
Like this weekend’s opponent Provodnikov did, Matthysse then defeated De Marcus Corley, before facing former world champion Devon Alexander. In what was a very close fight, Matthysse had Alexander on the floor, but lost on points.
After six more wins within the distance, including an impressive three-round demolition of another Amir Khan conqueror in Lamont Peterson, Matthysse was matched up against current WBA and WBC light-welterweight champion Danny Garcia and installed as a heavy betting favourite.
However, although hindered by an eye injury caused by Garcia’s flinched glove, Matthysse was easily outboxed and defeated on points. After another two KO wins, the Argentine signed to face Ruslan Provodnikov in a bout that essentially matches two hard-hitters who fall short against elite level technical boxers against each other.
Provodnikov vs Matthysse Betting
Provodnikov is offered around 11/10, while Matthysse is a slight favourite that’s available around 10/11. In terms of method of victory, the honest truth is that bookmakers have been ridiculously slow at releasing prices in this market and I can’t wait any longer before sending this article in to be published!
The Provodnikov vs Matthysse Betting Verdict
Given that both fighters are notorious hard-hitters, this bout shouldn’t last the distance, particularly if both men march forward and trade punches in the middle of the ring. However, the price about such an eventuality is too short to back.
Instead, I opt for a bet in the bout winner market. Of course, I can’t rule out a Provodnikov win and he’s so not called the ‘Siberian Rocky’ for nothing, but I think that while the Russian just plods forward and has no ‘plan b,’ Matthysse – who let’s not forget has 34 KO’s from 36 wins – is a far better technical boxer that has more ways to win.
If the Argentine and his camp have little more than a modicum of sense, or just access to TV and internet, they’ll know that after being defeated on points by the feather-fisted Chris Algieri, Provodnikov himself said to the post-fight interviewer that he can only fight one way – by slugging it out – so if Matthysse mixes power punches with technical boxing, uses the ring to his advantage and doesn’t just stand and trade, he should be able to take the Russian out of his comfort zone and win, potentially via a shock points decision.
Recommendation: Matthysse to win at 10/11
Of course, whether you do or don’t opt for a wager, have a great weekend and feel free to contact me on Twitter via @JCLaLiga if you have any questions or feedback.
Photo credits – Flickr (Creative Commons – Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0))