A clean fight
This weekend’s battle between Ruslan Provodnikov and Lucas Matthysse from the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, NY. figures to be among the most physically taxing and brutal in recent memory. There’s a very good chance that both boxers leave a piece of themselves in that ring and will never be quite the same. This could very well be the type of fight that shaves years off careers and leaves long-term damage. It was an amazingly easy fight to negotiate between Banner Promotions and Golden Boy Promotions.
Except for one key issue: The matter of drug testing. At the request – and eventual demand – of Provodnikov and his side, Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) testing was implemented for this contest.
They wanted to ensure the cleanest fight possible.
“We’ve got VADA testing in place, even though Matthysse’s training in Argentina. It was important for us and we want to do it every time Ruslan fights,” said Provodnikov’s manager, Vadim Kornilov, a few weeks back at the Wild Card Boxing Club. As Matthysse balked, after originally agreeing to this stipulation, they complied after Provodnikov offered to pay for their side of the testing.
And without them doing VADA, there would have been no fight. Kornilov insists they were not bluffing.
“100 percent, I put it in the press that if there was no VADA testing, we wouldn’t do the fight. It wasn’t just a sudden thing; we said that from the beginning. We talked about that with our promoter and took good steps in helping us make this happen. To me, they didn’t really want it that much. So we made sure that we pushed it through and if there was no VADA testing, it would’ve put the fight in jeopardy.”
Dr. Margaret Goodman, president of VADA, gave this statement (via email to UCNLive.com): “Mr. Provodnikov is covering the testing costs for both he and Mr. Matthysse. They’ve both been eligible for unannounced testing beginning March 11th through April 18th – both blood and urine. This is Mr. Provodnikov’s fourth time using VADA. Since he fought Tim Bradley, Mr. Provodnikov has been a staunch supporter of clean sport. All results have been released and continue to be reported to the promoters, the commission, the fighters and the ABC [Association of Boxing Commissions].”
Provodnikov stated, “Boxing has become dirty and we know that and I want to take a little step – even if it’s a little one – to make it more clean because there’s a lot of dirty business going on and we all know that. There’s been a lot of of people involved in that and, for us, it’s important to get rid of that and make the sport as clean as we can, one step at a time.”
What’s troubling is that, in a contact sport (with so much trauma to the head), there seems to be a lingering apathy toward this issue. In boxing, money talks and actually catching those who try and skirt the rules can be bad for business. While those in charge, such as the regulators, continue to look away and seemingly ignore the problem, it will be up to the participants to be proactive.
“I definitely think that the fighters at the upper levels should be considering this because there’s still a lot of unanswered questions, a lot of speculations on whether the fighters are clean or not. So for us, we always wanted to make sure there’s no speculation. We wanted to make sure people know exactly how the fighter trains and if he wins, he wins cleanly and honestly,” said Kornilov, who manages a stable of fighters, mostly from Russia.
“That’s very important to Ruslan, “he continued.” and it’s very important to all of our fighters. So whenever one of our fighters on our team gets to a level where they can cover the testing or we can support the testing, we’re going to get this in place for all our fighters.”
For the promoters – whose very interests are very conflicted by such matters – it makes it easier for them to implement such measures if they are insisted upon by their clients. Artie Pelullo says, “It does make it easier, at the end of the day; [Provodnikov] won’t do a fight without VADA testing from this point on. It started with [Tim] Bradley and sometimes we can’t make other people do it but Matthysse did submit to it but we’re paying for it. So it’s something that [Provodnikov] believes in. He’s on nothing; he’s just a bull.”
Yeah, still no sign of actual tickets for that little get-together on May 2 in Las Vegas, according to Lance Pugmire of the LA Times.
But hey, this is for the fans!
3 KNOCKDOWN RULE
I arrive in Verona on Saturday afternoon. It’s my first visit to the Turning Stone…Cal State Dominguez students are being offered free tickets to the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Andrzej Fonfara fight at the StubHub Center…Word is if Chavez Jr. wins, he will face WBC 175-pound champion Adonis Stevenson…Spurs-Clippers is the best first round playoff match-up I can recall in the NBA…The weather in Minnesota, while I was there, was downright balmy, in the low 70s…I can be reached at email@example.com and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.