By Jake Donovan
While the mere listing of a 140 lb. title fight between Ruslan Provodnikov and Chris Algieri doesn’t generate major shockwaves through the industry, where it was going to - and now is going to – take place became a major storyline helping transform this fight into an event.
When the June 14 fight was originally announced in mid-April, Banner Promotions – Provodnikov’s promoter – revealed that the event would land at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale (Long Island), New York. The location would have given considerable home crowd advantage to Algieri, a huge draw in his hometown of Huntington, roughly 30 minutes northeast of Nassau Coliseum which hadn’t hosted a fight card since pre-championship versions of Mike Tyson and James ‘Buddy’ McGirt scored knockouts on the same show in March 1986.
Circumstances changed practically overnight, however.
“We agreed to make the deal at Nassau Coliseum,” promoter Artie Pelullo, CEO of Banner Promotions reveals. “The gentleman who was supposed to sign off was out sick. As luck would have it, I get a call from Vadim Kornilov, Provodnikov’s manager who tells me, ‘Don’t sign anything, we have a better deal.”
That better deal turned out to be an offer they couldn’t refuse. The end result was the show being moved to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which since opening in 2012 has narrowed the gap with the world famous Madison Square Garden Arena as the place for boxing in New York.
“The Nets owner (Mikhail Prokhorov) is a Russian, he’s a huge boxing fan and was extremely helpful in this fight landing at Barclays,” Pelullo points out.
Despite Algieri’s deep New York roots and an insistence that his fans will make the trek from Suffolk County, the location – from a demographic standpoint – actually favors the visiting Provodnikov (23-2, 16KO), who trains out of Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, but was born and raised in Russia.
“One of the main reasons we were anxious to bring the fight to Barclays is to market him as a star in this area,” Pelullo points out. “The fight is 30 minutes from Brighton Beach, which boasts a large Russian community. Ticket sales are going tremendous.
“Brett Yormack (CEO of Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets) loves it, and would like to have more than one Ruslan Provodnikov fight at Barclays. (Ruslan) will become a star in that area.”
The fight is the first title shot for Algieri (19-0. 8KO), college-educated clinical nutritionist who has come into his own as a 140 lb. contender. The pride of Long Island is coming off of a 10-round points win over Emmanuel Taylor, which aired live on NBC Sports Network from the Paramount Theatre in Huntington, which he has sold out in eight straight appearances.
While losing out on having his first title bid take place a modest drive away in Long Island, the fight is still close enough to home to truly serve as a dream come true.
“Being in Nassau Coliseum for my first title fight would have been huge,” Algieri admits, though without a trace of regret over the fight moving westward to Brooklyn. “The Barclays Center is a beautiful venue, it’s become the premiere venue in New York.
“To be honest, most of the fans I know when talking about the fight are excited to go to Brooklyn, to the Barclays Center. It’s easy to get to from Long Island, and it’s an honor to fight there.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox