by David P. Greisman
Ruslan Provodnikov didn’t look his usual self when he lost a decision to John Molina back in June. He admitted as much afterward.
“It wasn’t my night,” he said at the time. “Maybe I don’t have the same hungriness as before. I’m not going to make excuses, but it was hard for me to find my groove tonight.”
Provodnikov is taking the rest of 2016 off, and his promoter says that there will be a conversation sometime in 2017 about the future of his career.
“Ruslan’s back in Russia relaxing. He’ll probably make a decision a couple months past the new year whether he wants to continue or not,” said Arthur Pelullo of Banner Boxing, speaking with BoxingScene.com. “I believe he is going to fight again, because he’s a warrior and I don’t think he wants to go out that way. I don’t know what he wants to do, but I will go see him and discuss it with him.
“I believe the last conversation I had with him — all good fighters and great fighters, they don’t want to go out on a loss. I’m not pushing him other way. I told him to make whatever decision he wants. We’ve been together from the very first fight. When it was time for Acelino Freitas to retire, I said ‘retire.’ I did the same thing with him. ‘When it’s your time, you’ll decide.’”
One way Pelullo said he can tell when it’s time for a fighter to retire is when he sees different levels of energy while observing what’s going on in the gym, in training camp and in the ring. But there was no sign of an energy drop in the buildup to Providnikov-Molina, he said.
“Here’s what I can tell you: He fights every fight hard. He takes three to give one. He has to be at such an intensity to do that all the time, that it’s hard,” Pelullo said. “So what I saw in the last fight is he looked like he was tired, he needed time off. He didn’t have the same intensity. He fights Molina the way he fought Chrs Algieri — we were robbed in that fight — or the way he fought Mike Alvarado, then he knocks him out. He’s all over. He can’t stop. I didn’t see that fire after the first couple of rounds.”
Taking three punches to give one tends to lead to a shorter career. There’s always the possibility that the punishment Provodnikov has taken has begin to affect him.
“If it hasn’t already, it will, because you can’t get hit like that,” Pelullo said. “The way this business is, it’s a hard business. They get hit for a living. His style, he gets hit more than that because he wants to brawl, he wants to come at you. So if it hasn’t affected him, if he doesn’t retire at the right time, it will affect him.”
The question, then, is whether any Provodnikov comeback would be just about going out on a win or about attempting one final run. No matter what, however, Pelullo said Provodnikov needs to come back the same way.
“I don’t know what he wants to do. But I told him, if you’re going to come back, you got to come back like when you were fighting Alvarado or Bradley,” Pelullo said. “You got to come back at that intensity or don’t come back.”
Pick up a copy of David’s book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide. Send questions/comments via email at [email protected]