BROOKLYN, N.Y. — RING and WBC super middleweight champion Andre Ward said Chris Algieri "boxed his tail off," rising from a pair of first-round knockdowns that turned his right eye into a slit, and enduring a bloody nose over the course of Saturday night's dramatic upset split-decision victory over that dethroned Ruslan Provodnikov for the WBO junior welterweight title at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on HBO.
A 30-year-old resident of Huntington, Long Island, N.Y., Algieri withstood a blistering attack from the hard-punching fighter known as "The Siberian Rocky," saying that he could scarcely see out of a right eye by the eighth round and that he was completely blind out of it by the 12th..
Judges Don Trella and Tom Schreck scored the fight for Algieri, 114-112, while Max DeLuca had it for Provodnikov, 117-109, and RingTV.com had it for Provodnikov, 116-110.
From his seat as a ringside commentator for HBO, however, Ward said that he gave the edge to Algieri, who out-landed Provodnikov, 288-to-205 in overall punches, 177-to-164 in power shots, and, 111-to-41 in jabs.
"I didn't score the fight, but I thought he won. Whether it was by a point or two points, I thought Algieri boxed his tail off," said Ward. I could be it being swayed the other way. I mean, we're talking rounds here. So if another judge sees it two rounds another way, then Provodnikov gets his hand raised."
Provodnikov (24-3, 16 knockouts) was coming off a 10th-round stoppage of Mike Alvarado, whom he floored twice on the way to winning his belt in October.
The win over Alvarado followed Provodnikov's unanimous decision loss to then-WBO welterweight titleholder Tim Bradley during which Provodnikov scored a 12th-round knockdown in a March bout named "2013 Fight of the Year" by THE RING as well as the Boxing Writers Association of America.
Algieri (20-0, 8 KOs), who stands 5-foot-10 to Provodnikov's 5-6, had correctly expressed confidence that he could duplicate the efforts of Bradley and Mauricio Herrera, the latter whom defeated Provodnikov by unanimous decision in January 2011.
"I don't that you can scream 'Home Cooking' or anything like that," said Ward, marveling at Algieri's resolve. "I think that they could make a documentary out of this night. Hat's off to Algieri, man. Provodnikov, he showed up, but Chris Algieri was just the better man tonight."