Lucas Matthysse put in a stellar performance by out-boxing Ruslan Provodnikov to a Majority Decision in Verona, New York. This was an exciting, certainly all-action fight that requires an autopsy. First, let’s skim over the surface.
Matthysse (37-3, 34 KO) demonstrated his underrated jab, footwork and combinations, stealing the fight away from the more one-dimensional Provodnikov (24-4, 17 KO). Despite surviving a couple of scares in the non-title fight – or title of ‘Blood and Guts’, if you will – the Argentine fighter came away victorious on the scorecards.
It’s hardly shocking news for the sport, but the judges should be panned for their numbers. Matthysse, who fought a magnificently smart fight (118-110 on BoxingBase.com’s card), was rewarded with scores of 115-113 twice, and finally a despicable 114-114. What would he have had to do to receive a fair shake? Multiple knockdowns?
You know the rant spiel, so we’ll move on…
Short of knockdowns and an actual KO victory, blood-and-guts fight fans would have witnessed just about everything they appreciate. In fact – warning: cliche ahead – this was reminiscent of an actual Rocky-style fight. Saturday night showed why Provodnikov’s alias is literally the ‘Siberian Rocky’. The guy is tenacious in every sense of the word.
Lucas Matthysse played the boss for the most part of this bout, landing some beautiful, crisp combinations. A notable difference between these two fighters: Matthysse led with the jab, while Provodnikov led with power shots, often hooks and hard rights. Despite Matthysse being known as a puncher, the styles here played out as The Boxer vs The Slugger (Provodnikov).
Matthysse vs Provodnikov: The Fight
In just the 1st round, the pace was set. Matthysse landed hard and often, prompting observers to wonder just how much Provodnikov could take. The fight had only reached the 3-minute mark, and the Siberian’s face was painted red from power shots. Provodnikov was in with one of boxing’s hardest hitters, and it couldn’t be more clear.
Things immediately worsened for Provodnikov in the 2nd after suffering a nasty cut over his left eye. But the iron-willed fighter refused to take a step back, getting his own shots off in the closing seconds. During the 3rd round it seemed like the fight should have been over: Matthysse was still landing accurate, savage shots. But Provodnikov – somehow – kept plowing forward, hunting down his man.
Despite Provodnikov’s 9-minute beating, he found success in the 4th, landing some heavy chopping overhand-hooks that got Matthysse’s attention. Astoundingly, it seemed like Provodnikov was perhaps the more powerful of the two (that, or Matthysse was the more ‘human’ of the two when it came to punch resistance).
It’s probably likely given the circumstances: due to Provodnikov continually pushing Matthysse back, and throwing more singular punches, he was able to load up with greater firepower.
Matthysse wound down in gear in the 5th and also bagged the 6th – a big round – when he landed an unsettling number of shots. Provodnikov was simply steamrolling forward, walking through Matthysse’s punches like he couldn’t care less what was greeting his battered face. Sickening but equally inspirational stuff.
Matthysse captured the 7th and 8th rounds, but was still dancing with a dangerous opponent who was landing with sporadic thudding blows. The 9th and 10th also belonged to Matthysse, with the story much the same.
But then Provodnikov came surging straight back in the 11th, taking the round and almost dropping Matthysse. The Argentine banger was getting truly banged up for the first time, but fortunately for him Provodnikov is not known for being a great finisher.
No knockdown came, but it was still remarkable to witness Provodnikov somehow muster the strength – both mentally and physically – to try and take down Matthysse. Provodnikov’s face was barely recognizable as this stage of the fight: cut, swollen, and red. But more interestingly, he had yet to be rocked, shaken, wobbled – significantly hurt. Ironically, these were things he had already put upon his foe.
Observers may have begun to wonder: what do parents feed their children in Provodnikov’s Beryozovo hometown of Russia?
Matthysse’s superior boxing, and a bit of holding, allowed him to bag the 12th. There could only be one winner in this contest, of course, and despite dubious scorecards, the right man got the nod. Matthysse seemed relieved the fight was over, and who could really blame him? More boxers will no doubt outclass Provodnikov as Matthysse did, but short of a bullet – or two – you wonder if anyone will ever stop the man. (Matthysse vs Provodnikov Fight Highlights)
Matthysse vs Provodnikov: Burning Questions & Aftermath
Matthysse will no doubt see some very large offers headed his way. Could it be Terence Crawford, who became the 140-pound WBO champ on the same night? Or perhaps Danny Garcia, the current WBC titlist?
Provided Matthysse doesn’t jump up to Welterweight, either are very possible. But, though Matthysse was exceptional at the weekend, it should be said that the story would be a lot different against Crawford and Garcia. Let’s remember that Provodnikov is not a defensive fighter – in fact, the guy seems to care little for it.
Could Matthysse inflict the same kind of damage on Crawford or Garcia? He may be able to land big on them, sure, and even knock them out through the right opening, but he would not be landing the same 3-4 punch combinations.
Crawford is one of boxing’s best defensive fighters, and also has some of the quickest feet and distance perception the sport has to offer. Not to mention very deceptive power that’s not often enough praised. Matthysse would be in for a hard night’s work against Crawford, indeed. But hey, when you have a punch like that, anything can happen.
Garcia is no Crawford in terms of boxing genius, but you’d better believe the guy knows when to hit and counter. Like Crawford, he never lets a man off the hook when they are hurt. Yes, he may have struggled against Lamont Peterson, a man who Matthysse stopped in 3 rounds, but we already know what happened in Matthysse vs Garcia the first time around. Garcia outpointed, dropped and closed the Argentine’s eye, taking home a Unanimous Decision in 2013. But that’s not to say a rematch wouldn’t sell tickets – or, wouldn’t end differently.
Matthysse is a great fighter, no doubt. But these are elite fighters of the division who will not walk onto shots like Provodnikov did.
As for Provodnikov, he should rest up for a while. That’s a given. He’s a hell of a fighter, but there’s only so many wars a man like that can take. He is great for boxing, and truly one of boxing’s toughest, durable guys. Hopefully his team will introduce him to a softer touch in his next outing before taking on another grueling challenge like that at the weekend.
Now it’s time to have your say – what did you think of Matthysse vs Provodnikov, and how did you score the fight? Also, what’s next for both fighters? Will Matthysse hang around at Junior Welterweight, or climb up to 147 to do some Floyd Mayweather chasing?
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