BROOMFIELD, Colo. – When Mike Alvarado tasted the canvas twice in the eighth round Saturday night, a weight must have lifted from Artie Pelullo’s shoulders. Challenger Ruslan Provodnikov, whom Pelullo promotes, had opened up what was to that point a close fight on the scorecards.
Twice this year, Pelullo fighters wound up on the losing end of close decisions against fighters promoted by Top Rank. First, in March, Provodnikov lost a close decision to Timothy Bradley in a Fight of the Year candidate. Last month, Bryan Vera lost a highly disputed decision to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., in a fight that was unfair before the bell even rang.
Though all the officials for Saturday’s main event were from outside the state of Colorado, where Alvarado resides, each of the first seven rounds were extremely close and could have gone either way.
Whatever the scores may have been, they were drastically affected in the eighth when Provodnikov’s tremendous body attack finally wore down Alvarado enough to put him on the canvas. It only speaks to Alvarado’s resolve that he managed to get up at a count of nine-and-three-quarters, though he eventually would be downed a second time.
That eighth round produced the best drama of the fight as Alvarado seemed on his way out of it – that is, before fighting himself back into the thick of it to close the round.
That would mark the last real rally by Alvarado as Provodnikov dominated the remainder of the fight prior to a corner stoppage at the end of the tenth round, rendering the scorecards meaningless and Provodnikov’s fists the final judges. The scores at the time of the stoppage were 98-90, 97-90, and 96-92, putting the fight well out of reach for Alvarado, barring a miracle.
“I knew what I had to do, which is break him,” said Provodnikov after the victory. “I don’t care about the titles. I had to break his will to win this fight.”
It must be noted that Alvarado needed a second try to make the 140-pound limit on Friday afternoon, which perhaps played a role in his inability to absorb punches as well as he did in two wars against Brandon Rios.
“He shook me up with a few shots and I wasn’t able to recover like I usually do,” said Alvarado afterwards.
In Alvarado’s only other previous loss just a year and a week ago, he was stopped on his feet against Rios before avenging the defeat at the end of March, winning a decision on the strength of his boxing ability. It’s safe to say that Alvarado cannot be considered “Mr. October.”
Last year, Alvarado felt he had a quick stoppage ruled against him, but this time, there was no complaint.
“It’s more dangerous when you are taking multiple shots like that,” said Alvarado. “I thought it was a good decision to end the fight.”
Coming just a week after Juan Manuel Marquez’s excuse-filled tirade following his loss to Bradley, Alvarado’s classiness in defeat was a breath of fresh air.
Provodnikov proved with the victory that the performance against Bradley earlier this year was not a fluke and that he is a force to be reckoned with, whether he stays at the 140-pound division or fights at 147, where the Bradley fight took place.
For Alvarado, the struggle to make weight could suggest that his days as a junior welterweight are over. Depending on the outcome of next month’s fight between Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios, perhaps a rubber match with Rios could be in the not-so-distant future.
Whatever the next step, Alvarado has earned himself a break, as he’s fought tough fight after tough fight dating back to a final-round TKO win over Breidis Prescott in November 2011.
Photos by Chris Farina-Top Rank