Michael Rosenthal

Provodnikov stops Popoca in the eighth round

Ruslan Provodnikov stopped Ivan Popoca at 2:16 of the eighth round of a scheduled 10-round junior welterweight bout on ESPN2's Friday Night Fights in Temecula, Calif.

Provodnikov put Popoca down with a perfect right about midway through the eighth, hurting the then-unbeaten Mexican badly. He was able to get up but took several more big shots, prompting referee Pat Russell to stop it.

The Russian has now won two straight since he was outpointed by Mauricio Herrera on ESPN2 in January, having stopped journeyman Vyacheslav Yakovenko in three rounds in February in Russia.

“I felt like this was the last fight for me,” Provodnikov said through a translator. “I knew I either win or put the gloves on a nail. … I can call this a star coming back into the ring and redeeming himself."

Popoca (15-1-1, 10 knockouts) put up a good fight but was outgunned and too easy to hit, which suits a hard puncher like Provodnikov (19-1, 13 KOs) perfectly.

Provodnikov, who landed the sharper punches throughout the fight, almost stopped Popoca with a flurry of solid punches in the fifth round but the game Chicago resident survived.

Popoca couldn’t survive the big right, though. Provodnikov landed a jab and then unloaded a bomb, which hurt him too badly for him to last much longer.

Provodnikov worked with trainer Buddy McGirt for the first time for this fight.

“That loss gave me Buddy McGirt,” he said. “I want to thank him. I feel he did a lot for me. Technically I did a lot. I was able to jab more, move around, I saw the punches better, I moved my head more.

“And I feel in the ring he was telling me the right things to do. I might not have had that before."

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