Although Mike Alvarado has said that he can win a toe-to-toe battle with hard-hitting junior welterweight rival Ruslan Provodnikov, the WBO titleholder also believes that he has the edge in boxing skills.
Meanwhile Provodnikov (22-2, 15 knockouts) is confident that he can force Alvarado (34-1, 23 KOs) into “a street fight” when the clash in what is considered to be a “fight of the year” caliber bout on Saturday night at 1st Bank Center in Broomfield, Colo., a suburb of Denver, near Alvardo’s hometown of Thornton.
“This one has the makings of what should be a scintillating brawl that could potentially land on many ‘fight of the year’ lists,” said KnockoutNation’s Andreas Hale of Alvarado, who was last in the ring for a unanimous-decision win over Brandon Rios in March, out-boxing a man who had stopped him in the seventh-round round in October of last year.
“However, I think Mike Alvarado learned his lesson in the first fight against Brandon Rios that you can not go into every fight with the intent to go toe to toe until one man falls. It didn’t work out and saw Alvarado stopped in the seventh round. It was fun to watch and probably won over a few new Alvarado fans, but a loss lingers much longer.”
The same can be said for Provodnikov, who scored a 12th-round knockdown during a unanimous-decision loss in his last fight in March with WBO welterweight titleholder Tim Bradley, who successfully defended the belt he won by split decision over Manny Pacquiao last June.
“Mike Alvarado’s going to be there for him to hit. I believe that Provodnikov has also gained a lot of confidence from the fight with Tim Bradley. Talking to Freddie Roach, I know that he’s learned a lot.”
There is a question, however, of whether or not Roach will be in the corner of Provodnikov, given that he is currently in General Santos City Philippines, where he is training Pacquiao for next month’s fight with Rios that will happen on Nov. 24 in Macau.
“Both guys are big punchers with the power to hurt each other. Mike Alvarado is the better boxer,” said USA Today’s Bob Velin. “That, along with the Denver altitude, a partisan home crowd and the likelihood that Ruslan Provodnikov’s Hall of Fame trainer, Freddie Roach, will probably not be in his corner …will help Alvarado.”
Hale, Ginn and Velin are among 28 insiders polled by RingTV.com regarding what will transpire during Alvarado-Provodnikov, which is being televised on HBO.
Ruslan Provodnikov late-round KO Mike Alvarado: Mike Alvarado has the ability to out-box Ruslan Provodnikov, but fighting at home, I suspect he’ll get sucked into a slug-fest.
Provodnikov is coming down in weight, and will be the larger man. I see Provodnikov stopping Alvarado late in a tit-for-tat affair.
Record: 9-6 [Lastt pick: Marquez KO Bradley]
Alvarado by close unanimous or majority decision: I think Alvarado weathers an early strom from Provodnikov and resists the urge to show out for the hometown crowd by getting too macho with the Russian badass; instead he uses his height, reach, jab and lateral movement to take command of the middle and late rounds. The championship rounds should be a lot of fun as “Provo” goes for broke and Alvarado stands his ground to appease the fans and his own warrior instinct.
Record: 10-8 [Alvarez UD 12 Mayweather]
Mike Alvarado TKO 9 Ruslan Provodnikov: Mike Alvarado showed he can win in more than one way in his rematch decision over Brandon Rios. That new found versatility at home in Denver and at altitude poses a combination of problems that eventually will prove to be too much for Ruslan Provodnikov.
The Russian hits harder than Juan Manuel Marquez, but his power figures to lose some of its leverage in the move to 140 pounds from 147, especially in later rounds, when Alvarado’s ability to move and brawl will exhaust him.
Record: 19-7 [Bradley SD 12 Marquez]
Ruslan Provodnikov TKO 10 Mike Alvarado: Returning home to Colorado after two fan-friendly firefights with Brandon Rios, there’s no rest for the weary, or for Mike Alvarado. “Mile High” Mike is matched tough against Ruslan Provodnikov, a Russian mauler coming off a brutal confrontation of his own against Tim “Desert Storm” Bradley.
Which warrior goes into this battle more shell-shocked from recent combat? It has to be Alvarado. Those 19 rounds against Rios probably took more out of him than Bradley could ever take from Provodnikov no matter how many times they fought. To win, Alvarado must fight smart and dial back his taste for exchanges like he did in the Rios rematch, but there will be great pressure to perform in combative manner in Denver for his hometown fans.
Then there’s the pressure that Provodnikov will be applying in the ring. It’ll all be too much for Alvarado to abide. “This fight has war written all over it,” said Alvarado in promotion for the bout, and he’s right. When the boxing stops and the hostilities inevitably commence, Provodnikov will be the fresher of the two. Look for him to out-last Alvarado down the stretch and batter the WBO champion for a late round TKO.
Record: 15-8 [Bradley UD 12 Marquez]
Ruslan Provodnikov KO 9 Mike Alvarado: I think that that Ruslan Provodnikov has learned a lot from just sparring with Manny Pacquiao. Mike Alvarado’s going to be there for him to hit.
I believe that Provodnikov has also gained a lot of confidence from the fight with Tim Bradley. Talking to Freddie Roach, I know that he’s learned a lot. I expect him to be more polished, and he’s not going to let this chance slip.
So I see him winning by a knockout, maybe in the eighth or the ninth. Alvarado is a tough guy, so I could see the fight going the distance. But I’ll say it ends by a late knockout, maybe in the ninth.
Mike Alvarado was able to use his technical superiority to outclass Brandon Rios in the rematch, and a win over Ruslan Provodnikov will do wonders for his momentum.
Surely the game plan will be to minimize risk,, use his skills and protect his marketability for future assignments? For me, Provodnikov is a bit crude, and you fall into his hands by slugging, so why tempt fate?
Record: 9-6 [Marquez UD 12 Bradley]
Mike Alvarado W 12 Ruslan Provodnikov: As was the case with Timothy Bradley against Juan Manuel Marquez last week, Mike Alvarado’s strategic choice will determine the outcome. We all know what Ruslan Provodnikov brings to the table — determination, volume, toughness and underrated skill.
But Alvarado has more options. If he uses his speed and mobility to dictate distance and pick Provodnikov apart while also wisely choosing his moments to engage, he should win rather comfortably, because Provodnikov’s defense is leaky.
However, if Alvarado lets himself be drawn into a war, then he’ll give Provodnikov his best — and only — chance to win. Although the desire to please his hometown crowd may prod him into more of a firefight than is healthy for him, I believe Alvarado’s more pragmatic side will win out and we’ll see an action-oriented boxing match.
Record: 16-7 [Bradley UD 12 Marquez]
James Gurr, guest/fan, Santa Monica, Caliif
Mike Alvarado UD 12 Ruslan Provodnikov: I see this fight following a similar pattern to that of Mike Alvarado versus Brandon Rios II. If Alvarado watched Tim Bradley versus Ruslan Provodnikov, he will know that it is unwise to stand and trade with the Siberian banger for too long.
Considering the adjustments he made in the second Rios fight after being out-slugged, I see Alvarado being aggressive, yet calculated in his approach. Ruslan Provodnikov’s best chance is to turn it into a slug-fest, and if he can land, he can definitely hurt Alvarado, who has shown that he can be hurt by a big puncher (Rios, Breidis Prescott).
Provodnikov will be dangerous from bell to bell. The guess here is that Alvarado mixes boxing with just enough banging to keep Provodnikov wary, and Provodnikov’s face holds together just long enough to hear the final bell.
Mike Alvarado UD 12 Ruslan Provodnikov: This one has the makings of what should be a scintillating brawl that could potentially land on many “Fight of the Year” lists. However, I think Mike Alvarado learned his lesson in the first fight against Brandon Rios that you can not go into every fight with the intent to go toe to toe until one man falls.
It didn’t work out and saw Alvarado stopped in the seventh round. It was fun to watch and probably won over a few new Alvarado fans, but a loss lingers much longer. So what Alvarado did in the second fight, where he out-boxed Rios en route to an impressive unanimous decision victory, is indicative of what we probably will see against the hard-hitting Ruslan Provodnikov.
Alvarado likely learning his lesson, coupled with Provodnikov, who has perhaps expectations set too high coming off of the narrow loss to Bradley, should equate to Alvarado out-boxing his opponent. Not to mention that Provodnikov is moving back down to 140 and could struggle a bit with conditioning down the stretch. It won’t be the fight most expect, but it will be a good throw-down that Alvarado walks away winning convincingly.
Record: 4-0 [Bradley SD 12 Marquez]
Mike Alvarado W 12 Ruslan Provodnikov: I see Mike Alvarado winning easy over Ruslan Provodnikov, because he knows how to box and he knows how to bang. Alvarado proved that against Brandon Rios. The first fight with Rios, he stood in there and got gutty. The second fight, he banged a little bit, but he boxed his ass off also.
You’ve got to give him the credit when the credit is due. Alvarado knows how to switch it up. This kid Ruslan Provodnikov only knows one way. That’s to come forward and I’m going to try to bang you out. I didn’t see Provodnikov adapt, but I did see Alvarado adapt, so that’s why I’m going with Mike Alvarado.
Mike Alvarado UD12 over Ruslan Provodnikov: It’d be better for those of us outside the ring if Mike Alvarado-Ruslan Provodnikov develops into the epic war we all want.
That obviously isn’t what’s best for Alvarado. If the hometown fighter can resist the temptation to make this another legendary brawl, he should be able to out-box Provodnikov, much the way he was able to out-box Brandon Rios during much of their rematch.
If not, Alvarado will make this fight much more difficult than it needs to be because it’s highly unlikely he’ll be able to knock out Provodnikov.
Record: 14-5 [Marquez SD 12 Bradley]
Edward “Revolver” Khabrov, guest/fan, Zaporozhye City, Ukraine
Mike Alvarado UD 12 Ruslan Provodnikov: No doubt, Ruslan Provodnikov put on an impressive performance in that bout against Tim Bradley, however, I thought it’s not that Provodnikov was so good, but that Bradley simply had an off-night.
I thought that Bradley simply underestimated a less experienced underdog in Provodnikov. I consider Mike Alvarado to be a more talented, more skilled fighter than Provodnikov. Just like Provodnikov, Alvarado is known for his aggressive style. In the majority of his fights, Alvarado has been mostly the aggressive brawler.
But unlike Provodnikov, who is ALWAYS trying to get his opponent into exchanges, Alvarado has shown that he can make adjustments and switch styles from brawler to a boxer if necessary.
Mike Alvarado W12 Ruslan Provodnikov: I actually had Ruslan Provodnikov ahead of Timothy Bradley on my scorecard, but I don’t think Mike Alvarado will make the same mistake of coming out swinging at the Russian.
Much like the way he approached Brandon Rios in the rematch, I think Alvarado will change the pace by boxing and brawling intermittently to keep a hard-charging Provodnikov off-guard.
Factor in a Denver crowd that will be screaming every time Alvarado throws anything substantial, and the judges could award him most of the close rounds.
Record: 13-7 [Bradley W 12 Marquez]
Mike Alvarado UD 12 Ruslan Provodnikov: Hide the women and children. To be honest and perhaps politically incorrect, I foresee a bloodbath. Ruslan Provodnikov is generally better than people give him credit for, and he got better in that last fight after hooking up with Freddie Roach. We pretty much know what he is going to do.
So the fight depends on Mike Alvarado. Mike likes to fight, but he has got to be disciplined in this one. Alvarado possesses more skills, and he’s going to have to use them intelligently. I suspect Alvarado run off to a good lead early in this fight.
But Ruslan will have his moments. If Provodnikov can draw Alvarado into a firefight, he has an excellent chance to win. My suspicion is that even if Alvarado does engage him once in a while, he’ll resist the urge to slug it out.
Provodnikov reminds me a lot of George Chuvalo, who was brutish and tough enough to give everyone a tough fight, but not skilled enough to beat the top guys. Even though Provodnikov will come on late, Alvarado will hang on for the decision in a grueling battle.
Record: 16-8 [Marquez W 12 Bradley]
Mike Alvarado UD 12 Ruslan Provodnikov: Ruslan Provodnikov will bring it, of course, but Mike Alvarado can fight and box. He’ll need to do both, and will do both, building an early lead and withstanding a furious rally to score a unanimous decision.
Record: 3-2 [Bradley W 12 Marquez]
Ruslan Provodnikov KO 6 Mike Alvarado: I think that Ruslan Provodnikov is a tougher fighter, and he proved that in his last fight with Timothy Bradley. He’s a power puncher. We know that Mike Alvarado is also a great puncher, too.
But Ruslan proved that he can hit hard with both hands. Ruslan, for me, will win this fight by a knockout. The round, well, that’s tough to say which round, because Mike Alvarado is a great fighter, too.
Ruslan will apply a lot of pressure on Alvarado, starting in the first round. So if the knockout happens, it will be at least a victory by the way of knockout in the sixth or seventh round.
Mike Alvarado W 12 Ruslan Provodnikov: Another tough call, but that is why we are experts. Mike Alvarado is a more complete boxer-fighter, and while Provodnikov is one tough dude. Provodnikov is more one-way, and thus will fall victim to too many sweet combinations.
So I’m going with Alvarado by decision. I would like to say either split-, unanimous or majority, but how can you count on the ability of the judges. They can throw the best thought out plans right out the window.
Record: 13-9 [Bradley W 12 Marquez]
Mike Alvarado W 12 Ruslan Provodnikov: In Ruslan Provodnikov’s last fight, he exceeded people’s expectations as he took Tim Bradley to the wire in narrowly losing a decision. That’s given him a lot of cache heading into his title try against Mike Alvarado this weekend.
But I think he’s got more working against him than most people see. Provodnikov is moving back down to 140 pounds after challenging Bradley at 147. Provodnikov could have won that fight if his conditioning didn’t hurt him down the stretch.
Moving back down in weight, it’s hard for me to envision Provodnikov being any stronger or in better shape whereas Alvarado is used to the weight and will benefit from fighting at home. The home field advantage in this fight is greater than most as the altitude in Colorado is something Alvarado is used to.
Freddie Roach said he had Provodnikov running Mt. Charleston, but it just isn’t the same. As long as Alvarado doesn’t get lured into a war, because that’s what his fans want to see, I think Alvarado will box Provodnikov similar to the way he did in the Brandon rios rematch earlier this year.
We also haven’t heard any reports of Alvarado getting into trouble before this fight, which suggests to me he’ll be ready. It’ll be a dramatic fight, especially early, but Alvarado wins a 116-112 type decision.
Record: 10-2 [Mayweather UD 12 Alvarez]
Mike Alvarado KO 10 Ruslan Provodnikov: Ruslan Provodnikov has a chance, but I feel like Mike Alvarado will get a late stoppage because of what he has done and what he has shown in the past.
In his two fights with Brandon Rios, he showed that he was a dog, and even when he got stopped in the first fight, he was still standing there, ready to go.
I feel like his training camps are really intense, and they’re in one of the hardest places to train, which is Colorado. He’s already adapted to that, and Provodnikov is coming into enemy territory.
I don’t think that he’ll be ready to take it from Alvarado in his home town, so I’m going to take Alvarado by 10th-round stoppage.
Mike Alvarado W 12 Ruslan Provdnikov: If Mike Alvarado can do what he did against Brandon Rios last March, he should be able to defeat tough Ruslan Provdnikov on Saturday night. Alvarado used angles, his legs and a steady jab to keep Rios guessing.
Provdinkov packs power in his right hand. His pressure will force Alvarado to rumble at times. I think Alvarado will survive some shaky moments and box his way to a 12-round decision.
Record: 6-4 [Marquez TTKO 11 Bradley]
Mike Alvarado W 12 Ruslan Provodnikov: In a string of recent hard fights to pick, a win here by Mike Alvarado or Ruslan Provodnikov would not surprise me. This is an excellent, excellent fight between, essentially, the winner and loser of the best fights of 2013.
However, I expect the winner of Alvarado-Brandon Rios to defeat the loser of Tim Bradley-Provodnikov. Honestly, Alvarado surprised me in his last fight both in his boxing skills and his general ability to stick to the game plan.
I expect that discipline will serve him well against Provodnikov, who will undoubtedly try to lure Alvarado into another slug-fest. That may work for a few rounds.
But once Alvarado tastes Provodnikov’s punching power, I anticipate that he will resort back to sticking and moving long enough to earn a decision in his hometown. Let’s say Alvarado by decision in a similar fight to his one against Rios earlier this year.
Record: 17-8 [Marquez KO 6 Bradley]
Mike Alvarado W 12 Ruslan Provodnikov: Mike Alvarado is definitely in a risky fight this weekend against Ruslan Provodnikov. I expect an entertaining battle to be won on points by Alvarado. I feel Mike simply has the ability and still should have enough left in the tank at age 33 to pull out the win.
Record: 13-5 [Bradley MD 12 Marquez]
Ruslan Provodnikov KO Mike Alvarado: Mike Alvarado is the more complete fighter and will be able to box well early, but Ruslan Provodnikov just keeps coming.
So far, he’s shown an impressive chin, and, even boxing, Alvarado can’t resist a fight. Both men should be flush with confidence after their last outings.
But Alvarado may have more wear on him after two wars in a row with the hard hitting Brandon Rios. In the late rounds, that should count for enough to give Provodnikov a chance.
Record: 16-9 [Marquez KO Bradley]
Mike Alvarado W 12 Ruslan Provodnikov: I think Mike Alvarado will win if he fights intelligently. Alvarado adjusted in his rematch with Brandon Rios, boxing more and engaging less. And he won.
If Alvarado fights like that against Ruslan Provodnikov, he’ll win a clear decision. If for some reason he fights like Tim Bradley did against Provodnikov, then all bets are off. Alvarado by clear unanimous decision.
Record: 14-6 [Bradley W 12 Marquez]
Mike Alvarado W 12 Rulan Provodnikov: I think that Mike Alvarado knows how to deal with straight-forward punchers. We saw that in his victory over Brandon Rios and I think that we will see that again against Ruslan Provodnikov.
Record: 22-4 [Bradley W 12 Marquez]
Mike Alvarado TKO 10 over Ruslan Provodnikov: Both guys are big punchers with the power to hurt each other. The Russian will try to out-slug his opponent, but Mike Alvarado will try to make it a more defensive fight. Alvarado is the better boxer.
That, along with the Denver altitude, a partisan home crowd and the likelihood that Ruslan Provodnikov’s Hall of Fame trainer, Freddie Roach, will probably not be in his corner — he’s training Manny Pacquiao in The Philippines — will help Alvarado keep his belt. The Russian will try to out-slug his opponent, but Alvarado will try to make it a more defensive fight.
Record: 14-5 [Bradley SD 12 Marquez]
Mike Alvarado W 12 Ruslan Provodnikov: I say that Mike Alvarado is going to take a very close decision over Ruslan Provodnikov. I think Alvarado is riding high after his win over Brandon Rios.
I think that Alvarado is going to have his home town behind him, and he’s going to work that jab and use his boxing ability to score a decision. Pretty simple.
Record: 0-1 [Matthysse KO 7 Garcia]
Mike Alvarado W 12 Ruslan Provodnikov: When you put these two together, you all but guarantee fireworks. It looks like a war of attrition between two relatively evenly-matched 140-pounders.
Ruslan Provodnikov will have his successes, and sooner or later, this will end up in the trenches. I favor Alvarado to win a competitive but deserved decision spurred on by his home fans.
Record: 8-5 [Bradley W 12 Marquez]
By a score of 23-5, the experts believe that Mike Alvarado will successfully defend his WBO junior welterweight belt against Ruslan Provodnikov.
[Note: Martinez-Burgos was a draw, meaning all who selected otherwise received a loss]
Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com