By Keith Idec
Ruslan Provodnikov believes Mike Alvarado when Alvarado says he’ll try to box Provodnikov on Saturday night.
The rugged Russian contender just doesn’t think Alvarado will be able to resist the temptation of helping him produce the brutal battle virtually everyone expects from them.
“I think that we’re going to have to fight, no matter what,” Provodnikov said on a conference call. “I don’t think anybody can run from me the entire fight. And I don’t think he’s going to be able to box with me as well as he thinks. And I think this is going to turn into a fight. If I made Timothy Bradley fight me, then I don’t see anyone else trying to run away and box with me.”
Provodnikov pressured Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs, 1 NC) into a brawl with him almost immediately March 16 in Carson, Calif. Bradley beat Provodnikov (22-2, 15 KOs) in what remains a leading candidate for “Fight of the Year,” but the undefeated WBO welterweight champion had to overcome serious trouble in the first, second, sixth, 11th and 12th rounds on his way to a unanimous decision win.
Denver’s Alvarado, meanwhile, was able to out-box Brandon Rios for much of their highly anticipated rematch and won a unanimous decision five months after Rios stopped him in the seventh round in Carson. The 33-year-old Alvarado (34-1, 23 KOs) executed his game plan more often than not in his second fight against Rios (31-1-1, 23 KOs), who wasn’t able to hurt Alvarado in exchanges the way he did during their first unforgettable fight.
Provodnikov welcomes whichever strategy Alvarado chooses in their HBO main event at 1STBANK Center in Broomfield, Colo., near Denver.
“He said himself that he wants to try to box me, but I’m ready for anything,” Provodnikov, 29, said. “I’m not only a brawler. I can also box. I think that we can fight any style.”
If Alvarado opts to box, Provodnikov predicted that’ll make their 12-round fight for Alvarado’s WBO junior welterweight title easier for him.
“My opinion is that if Mike wants to box with me,” Provodnikov said, “I think it might be worse for him and better for me because I think that Mike is a much better brawler than he is a boxer.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.