by David P. Greisman
On a night when HBO will be premiering a “Legendary Nights” documentary for the famed trilogy between Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward, the live fight accompanying that Oct. 19 broadcast — Mike Alvarado vs. Ruslan Provodnikov — could easily follow suit with similar action, according to Todd duBoef, president of Top Rank.
“It’s not going to be too difficult, knowing both of these guys’ styles to come pretty damn close to Gatti-Ward,” duBoef said at an Aug. 13 news conference. “When this match was flirted out there, in today’s social media world, it just became like this chatter that was like ‘Oh my god, those guys?’ It wasn’t long ago that when we called [Banner Promotions’ Artie Pellulo] for Ruslan to fight Timothy Bradley, everybody was like ‘Who’s he? Who is he? Who is he?’ And he showed on that night in the Home Depot Center who he was.
“It’s the performance in the ring that makes this sport work,” duBoef said. “It’s the performance of what the fans see, how they’re entertained, what the action’s like, how passionate these fighters are, that’s what makes the sport work. Nobody cares about zeroes and losses and wins and everything. … It’s kind of great to see the guys that put it all in the line, and if they’re in defeat, they’re still in demand, because they put on a style that is so telegenic and so pleasing to the fans. When these guys make fights, we all have to sit down and watch. You know that when these guys get in the ring, they’re going to give their hearts, they’re going to give their guts, there’s no backing down. There’s nothing in the way. That’s what always made boxing a classic and incredible sport.”
The praise for the fighters flowed at Tuesday’s press conference, as did the high expectations for what the collision between Alvarado and Provodnikov will produce.
“One thing that each of these fighters demonstrably shows each time they go out in the ring is that they’re there to show more heart and guts and brawn than most other fighter in the sport ever do,” HBO’s Director of Programming, Peter Nelson, said at one point. Later, he added: “We know it’s going to deliver for the fans.”
Said Pellulo: “Everybody knows what these guys are about. They have no quit. They have no back-up. It’s the most fan-friendly fight in a long, long time. The loser will not lose. It’s a great opportunity for both of them. … It’s going to be a special fight. I’m telling you what you already know. If these two young fellows do what we expect them to do, you’re going to see a fight that will live on in the ages.”
And there was this from Alvarado’s manager, Henry Delgado:
“They both know only one way, and that’s forward. When you have two objects coming forward, it’s going to be a crash.”
When it came his time to take the podium, Provodnikov, speaking through a translator, put it simply and perhaps best:
“I can confidently say that we’re both going to create a war, and I’m pretty sure that one of us is going to remain laying in the ring after the fight.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter @fightingwords2 or send questions/comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org