Ruslan Provodnikov-Lucas Matthysse: Here’s hoping…
There is chatter in boxing that a junior welterweight bout between The Ring magazine No. 1-rated Lucas “The Machine” Matthysse, 36-3 (34) and No. 4-ranked Ruslan “The Siberian Rocky” Provodnikov, 24-3 (17), will happen this spring. Styles most certainly make fights so if this one happens and plays out in the manner it should, it could be an early candidate for “Fight of the Year.”
According to Provodnikov’s promoter, Artie Pelullo of Banner Promotions, he had “talked to Golden Boy [Promotions] about Matthysse and they are interested in making the fight.” Recent reports also have HBO securing the bout with it possibly landing at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. or at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nev. and zeroing in on March 28 as the date.
The bout looks like it is going to happen and here’s hoping it does.
Provodnikov, who went tooth-and-nail with welterweight Timothy Bradley, is coming off a fifth-round knockout over former lightweight champion Jose Luis Castillo. Although Castillo put up a good effort (in a fight many were predicting would be a blowout), Ruslan was predicted to win easily and the bout was looked on as a tune-up fight.
Now Provodnikov is ready to return against some of the game’s best. If it’s a tough banger he wants, Matthysse is a great choice. The two warriors have a style and the power to make this potential bomb-fest a fight fans’ dream.
Provodnikov, 30, lost his WBO junior welterweight title by split decision to Chris Algieri last June. It was a close fight that many felt Provodnikov had done enough in to win.
While the Matthysse bout would be a great fight for the fans, it isn’t the only option for Ruslan. A TV-friendly fighter with his style will always have many dance card options.
Matthysse looked very strong after turning pro and going unbeaten in his first 27 fights. He then dropped a close split decision in Nov. of 2010 to former world champion Zab Judah. He came back with a win over former world champion DeMarcus Corley but then picked up his second loss, coming up short against former world champion Devon Alexander.
He then went on a six-fight run between 2011 and 2013 that saw him pick up wins over Mike Dallas Jr., Humberto Soto and Lamont Peterson. This earned him a crack at undefeated Danny Garcia with the WBC and the WBA world junior welterweight titles on the line. However, Garcia put on one of his best performances, picking up a unanimous decision win.
Since then, “The Machine” has put together wins over John Molina Jr. (KO 11) and previously unbeaten Roberto Ortiz (KO 2). Now Matthysse is looking for some marquee bouts and “The Siberian Rocky” could be just the ticket.
The junior welterweight and welterweight divisions are jam-packed with talent and the options are endless for both fan-friendly warriors.
If Pelullo cannot land the Matthysse fight, he may look at Manny Pacquiao if the “Pac-Man” can’t reach a deal with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Pelullo also spoke of Brandon Rios, who is hot off a Jan. 24 pasting of Mike Alvarado in their rubber match.
Both Matthysse and Provodnikov are mirror images of each other in the ring in some ways. They both boast very similar resumes and both are just good enough – and flawed enough – to make for an outstanding match-up.
Both fighters look to rumble in a “seek and destroy” style that can change the fight with one punch and, at the same time, can take a swat. Both fighters have faced strong opposition and both are courting an ever-growing fan base.
It’s a very exciting match-up on paper and one that should play out beyond the script.
In terms of styles, two names that immediately come to mind when you think of a Provodnikov-Matthysse fight are Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward The two junior welterweights had complementary ring styles that led to a legendary trilogy from 2002 to 2003.
“I am ready to fight anybody,” said Provodnikov recently. “It doesn’t matter, any of the big fighters because I know I will be exciting in the big fights. They say Lucas Matthysse is the next Manny Pacquiao. Well, then I should fight him because it would be a great fight for the fans. That’s what’s important.”
This is a fight any and all networks should be clamoring for.
* Former world champion Vic “Raging Bull” Darchinyan returned to the junior featherweight division and scored an entertaining ninth round TKO over Juan Jimenez on Saturday night in Chetumal, Mexico.
* Read a good quote on a social media post this week from “Toy Tiger: The Art Hafey Story” filmmaker Brad Little. (Regarding Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao), “Just out of curiosity, when does this become not a story anymore?”
* Thousands of fans, celebrities, politicians, entertainers and sports people converged on Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico this past Thursday to honor former Mexican world champion Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. with the unveiling of a statue in his honor. On hand to celebrate Chavez’s legendary 25-year pro boxing career were promoters Oscar De La Hoya and Don King, WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman, WBA President Gilberto Mendoza and boxing stars like Jose Luis Ramirez, Jesse James Leija, Ricardo Lopez, Humberto Gonzalez, Fernando Montiel, Marco Antonio Barrera, Mario Martinez and Ruben Castillo, to name but a few.
* This past week, Golden Boy Promotions announced a new Los Angeles fight series set to launch next month. The new series will take place monthly beginning Friday, March 6, from the historic Belasco Theater in downtown Los Angeles and will feature up-and-coming prospects from Southern California. It will be featured on FOX Sports 1 and FOX Deportes.
* Former WBC junior middleweight titleholder Sergio “The Latin Snake” Mora won a split decision over Abie “The Sun City Warrior” Han to claim the vacant USBA middleweight title last Friday night at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. Some fans booed the decision but Mora did enough to earn a split nod with two scores of 114-113 and 115-112. Larry Ingle scored the bout 115-112 for Han.
* WBC/WBA No. 4 and IBF No. 10-ranked junior middleweight Anthony “The Man” Mundine is negotiating to fight WBC/WBA No. 6, IBF No. 8 and WBO No. 5-ranked Austin Trout in May in Australia. Mundine is confident that he can defeat Trout and set up a bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Ummm…good luck with that, Anthony.