By Ryan Maquiñana
Artie Pelullo, promoter of Russian slugger Ruslan Provodnikov, is confident in his fighter’s chances against junior welterweight titlist Mike Alvarado on Oct. 19.
The “Siberian Rocky” is currently entrenched in training camp at Hollywood’s Wild Card Boxing Club, where talented unbeaten prospect Maurice Hooker is among his sparring partners. Pelullo first addressed the issue of Provodnikov (22-2, 15 KOs) moving back down from welterweight—where he dropped a close decision in a Fight of the Year candidate against Timothy Bradley—to junior welterweight.
“Ruslan’s looking great. He’s already in shape,” Pelullo told BoxingScene.com. “He can fight at either 140 or 147 [pounds], and he’s not having any problems making weight. We went up [in weight] for Bradley and we can do it again given how big of a fight that they offer Ruslan in the future, but for now, he’s focused on Alvarado.”
Pelullo then discussed Provodnikov’s potential road post-Alvarado, specifically citing the quartet of elite welterweights in the Top Rank stable—Timothy Bradley, Juan Manuel Marquez, Manny Pacquiao, and Brandon Rios.
“It’s a big fight for both guys. There’s a lot of options out there for Ruslan if he wins, and I think he’s going to win,” Pelullo said. “You have the Bradley-Marquez winner, the Bradley-Marquez loser, and even the [Pacquiao vs.] Rios winner and loser.”
A victory on HBO against Alvarado (34-1, 23 KOs) would not only propel Provodnikov into another high-profile bout, but closer to mainstream acceptance with a public hungry for appetizing pay-per-view brawls in the future.
“American fans want guys who can fight and put it all out there, no matter where they’re from,” Pelullo said. “Look at Ruslan’s last fight against Bradley and how exciting he was. The fans love him already even though he couldn’t speak English because of the way he comes forward, and he’s going to give them more of what they want against Alvarado.”
Pelullo, CEO of Banner Promotions, is hardly concerned with the Russian-born Provodnikov’s unenviable task of entering the 1STBANK Center in Alvarado’s hometown of Denver for the clash, referring his previous experiences steering England’s Ricky Hatton and Brazil’s Acelino Freitas to their first successes stateside. (Incidentally, Freitas’s nephew Vitor Freitas will appear on the Alvarado-Provodnikov undercard.)
“Remember, Ruslan is from Siberia, so he’s never really gotten to fight at home. I had Freitas for his whole career and he never had a home fight. I brought Hatton to America, and they both won titles and made millions with me,” Pelullo said. “Ruslan’s always been fighting on the road, so I don’t think going to Denver will affect him at all.”
As far as the hostile environment that awaits his fighter in the Rockies, Pelullo sprinkled a little sense of humor into the conversation.
“Ruslan doesn’t speak English, so he won’t be able to understand what [the Denver fans] are saying about him, anyway,” he joked.
Both Provodnikov and Alvarado are coming off grueling wars, with the latter enduring two of them against Rios. When pressed to predict if Alvarado will suffer any lingering effects from the previous battles, Pelullo was unsure.
“Whether the last fight [against Rios] took anything out of [Alvarado] is something we won’t find out until the fight actually happens,” he said. “One thing I do know about both these guys is that neither of them knows how to make a bad fight.”
Ryan Maquiñana was the boxing producer for NBCOlympics.com during London 2012 and writes a weekly column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Ratings Panel for Ring Magazine. E-mail him at [email protected] , check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.