It lived up to the hype.
As expected, Provodnikov was relentless, constantly coming forward and looking to land hurtful shots. Alvarado found some success early through a combination of occasionally going toe to toe and then reverting to a more classic boxing approach, while landing a number of his signature uppercuts. Over seven rounds the bout was basically even and a case could be made for either fighter to have a narrow edge on the scorecards. The eight however was decisive. Alvarado appeared to have serious stamina issues… perhaps because he was very much in headhunting mode and throwing wild punches, perhaps because of a number of agonizing body shots from Provodnikov. Ruslan hurt Alvarado and then mercilessly pursued him, landing with bigger and bigger shots, dropping him twice. Alvarado tried to jab and move during the ninth and tenth round but he could do nothing to change the momentum, nothing to frustrate Provodnikov and nothing to stop the blows piling on. The referee could have stopped it during the ninth, Alvarado’s corner probably should have after the ninth and finally they mercifully did with Alvarado on his stool after the tenth.
I was wrong in my prediction as to the winner, but I think I roughly set out how the bout went and the keys to success for both. Alvarado was at his best when he boxed (notably in the second and third bouts) and his loss came largely because he allowed himself to repeatedly be drawn into firefights with Provodnikov. His stamina looked poorer than it had during his grueling bouts with Prescott and Rios but I think a lot of that can be put down to Provodnikov’s body work (which was much improved from his previous bouts). Provodnikov was what I expected; powerful, dangerous, relentless, iron-chinned and ruthless.
For Provodnikov this shows that the close nature of the Bradley bout wasn’t entirely down to Bradley’s foolish choice of gameplan. I still believe that if Bradley comes out and boxes sensibly he would handily win but Provodnikov is clearly better than the derogitary “ESPN-fighter” tag some have tried to label him with. He has a host of options now… any of Bradley, Marquez, Pac or Rios would be great opponents.
The picture is somewhat less rosy for Alvarado with this loss, but any fighter who has put on as many excellent bouts as he has will never lack for TV opportunities. Considering the nature of the wars he’s been involved in I wouldn’t bemoan an “easier” bout for him as a comeback but there are a proliferation of Top Rank affiliated boxers who would be happy to face him. He’s unlike to ever come near the top of a P4P list or even be in position to hold a title for a long time but he’s an entertaining fighter who will light up undercards and smaller main events for a while yet.
The undercard went as expected; everyone who was meant to win won. Juan Diaz was fairly entertaining in his bout, although it also showed why people through retirement was a good idea in the first place; he may have won virtually every round but he was given a very hard time in doing so. Frankly there doesn’t appear to be a vast amount to be optimistic about for this second act of Diaz’s career… he’ll be able to win bouts at this level but I doubt he can move beyond being at best a contender.