Chris Algieri: Algieri shouldn't have won his fight against Ruslan Provodnikov on Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. And I'm not talking about the scoring (a split-decision victory), which I don't believe was controversial. (See below.) I'm talking about Algieri's background. The 30-year-old from nearby Long Island had no amateur boxing background, instead learning the ropes as an accomplished kickboxer and in his paltry 19 boxing matches leading into Saturday. He started boxing at 23. That's not the kind experience that generally translates into elite performances. So how'd he do it? It's not complicated: Algieri has the natural gifts of which most boxers can only dream, is a fine athlete in general and he works his ass off to get better every day. Plus, he believes 100 percent in himself even when others don't. That formula DOES sometimes translate into great success. And consider what he was up against on Saturday. Provodnikov, a strong, punishing brawler, put him down twice in the first round and closed his eye yet the underdog persevered, did his job and emerged as the new WBO junior welterweight titleholder in a dramatic upset. This was no fluke. Algieri (20-0, 8 knockouts) is a very good boxer who will make life difficult for many top 140- and 147-pounders before he is finished.
Ruslan Provodnikov: Things can change suddenly and dramatically in boxing, as Provodnikov learned on Saturday night. The Russian had built tremendous momentum by fighting Tim Bradley on even terms in an unforgettable war and then stopping Mike Alvarado in 10 rounds to win the WBO title in his previous two fights. There was talk of lucrative fights against the likes of Juan Manuel Marquez, Brandon Rios and others. And then a little-known kickboxer-turned-conventional boxer who was supposed to be just an “opponent” brought everything to a screeching halt. Provodnikov seemed to be stunned when the decision was announced but acknowledged through a translator immediately afterward that Algieri's style – constant movement, in and out – is all wrong for him. That's true. However, if Provodnikov hopes to remain one of the most important boxers, he will have to find ways to catch and break down such opponents. Provodnikov (23-3, 16 KOs) will be OK going forward whether or not he gets a rematch with Algieri. The fans know what he'll deliver every time he steps through the ropes – action, fun, some kind of drama. He's a very marketable commodity. Provodnikov would welcome a rematch so he could regain his title. If not, you can expect him to be matched with an opponent who will come to him. He'll most likely win an entertaining fight and be back in thick of the big-money fights.
The Algieri-Provodnikov fight was exactly what the HBO broadcasters said it was: a matter of taste. Max DeLuca, perhaps the best boxing judge in the world, favored Provodnikov's harder punches (117-109 for the Russian) while Tom Schreck and Don Trella (both 114-112 for Algieri) favored the New Yorker's volume punching. No one is right or wrong. I had Provodnikov winning but I thought it was a close fight that could've gone either way. … Demetrius Andrade's victory over an overmatched Brian Rose (25-2-1, 7 KOs) on the Algieri-Provodnikov card proved almost nothing, particularly compared to a meaningful test against Vanes Martirosyan in his last fight. That said, Andrade (21-0, 14 KOs) couldn't have looked better. He looked quick, polished and powerful – the whole package – which is why Rose lasted only six-plus rounds. The 2008 U.S. Olympian seems to be on the cusp of becoming a star. … Dierry Jean (26-1, 18 KOs) bounced back from his unanimous-decision loss to Lamont Peterson at 140 pounds by stopping Mario Perez (15-6-4, 9 KOs) in eight rounds at 135 Friday in Montreal, Jean's adopted hometown. I don't think he was ready for Peterson but he's a good all-around fighter who might fare well at lightweight, a weight at which he had never fought before Friday. Keep an eye on him. … I thought Jorge Arce (64-7-2, 49 KOs) was finished after he was brutally knocked out by Nonito Donaire in 2012. The Mexican veteran, now 34, is 3-0 since. He stopped countryman Jorge Lacierva (41-10-6, 27 KOs) in eight rounds Saturday in Mexico to keep his career alive.
Video: Bill Emes