Ruslan Provodnikov said he "stole food, sniffed glue, smoked and drank" during his youth in Siberia, adding, "My amateur boxing coach saved my life."
Nicknamed "The Siberian Rocky," Provodnikov (23-2, 16 knockouts), 30, also said he will "chase" Chris Algieri (19-0, 8 KOs) and "hunt him down" during Saturday's defense of his WBO junior welterweight title at Barclays Center.
"I did not have an easy time growing up in Siberia," said Provodnikov during a gathering with reporters this past Saturday at Uncle Jack's Steakhouse in New York City, according to a release.
"I don't know where my childhood friends are now. Most are probably in jail. I stole food, sniffed glue, smoked and drank. My amateur boxing coach saved my life and helped to redirect my life toward being a productive person."
Provodnikov was last in the ring for a 10th-round stoppage of Mike Alvarado, whom he floored twice on the way to winning his belt in October. Prior to Alvarado, Provodnikov lost a unanimous decision to then-WBO welterweight titleholder Tim Bradley, scoring a 12th-round knockdown during THE RING's "2013 Fight of the Year" in March of last year.
Bradley said he "pissed blood" after facing Provodnikov, whose other loss was by unanimous decision to the resourceful Maurcio Herrera in January 2011.
Algieri appears to have gained confidence from watching certain moments in Provodnikov's bout with Bradley as well as his loss to Herrera, saying he detects some deficiencies in the WBO beltholder.
"Just based on past fights, there is a weakness with dealing with a jab and a boxer and movement but really, those are the things that we've been trying to work most on," said Algieri.
"But at the end of the day, it's a fight. Ruslan is going to press the action. I'm going to have to stand and fight at times, so we'll be ready for that as well."
Trained by Freddie Roach and assistant Marvin Somodio, Provodnikov said he is convinced he will have the answers to solve Algieri's style, in spite of his rival's scouting report.
"My job on June 14 is to chase Algieri and hunt him down. He should be more worried about me. His style of fighting is not my favorite," said Provodnikov. "I prefer an opponent who likes to engage and fight toe-to-toe, not a runner. I don't have trouble with runners. They have trouble with me."
In addition, Provodnikov said he is unspoiled by his notoriety over the past year and that he has retained the hunger and humility he had prior to his recent achievements.
"Despite winning the title, I still feel like a challenger and I train like one," said Provodnikov. "The only thing that has changed for me now that I am a world champion is that I now have more responsibilities like interviews and appearances."
This past Saturday, Roach and Somodio were in the corner of Cotto, who scored three knockdowns in the first round and another in the ninth of his 10th-round stoppage of Sergio Martinez, a feat that dethroned Martinez as RING and WBC middleweight champion and made Cotto the first Puerto Rican to earn a fourth belt in as many weight classes.
In a bout that took place a day before the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York, Cotto rose to 10-1 with six knockouts while fighting in New York, and 8-1 with five stoppage wins at Madison Square Garden.
Provodnikov said he is hoping to begin a similar legacy and tradition at Barclays, whose surrounding city of Brooklyn has a large contingent of Russians in its community.
"This is a very important fight to me because it will show how many fans I can attract," said Provodnikov. "Brooklyn feels like a second home. I hope Barclays Center can become my home arena in the same manner Miguel Cotto has at Madison Square Garden."
Photo by Chris Farina/Top Rank