Ruslan “The Siberian Rocky” Provodnikov makes his first defense of the WBO Light Welterweight championship against unbeaten but unheralded Chris Algieri on June 14 on HBO’s “Boxing after Dark” at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Memorable Year

2013 was a memorable year for Ruslan Provodnikov as he had two career-defining fights. On March 15, 2013 he fought Timothy Bradley in a grueling 12 round battle that was named as 2013 Fight of the Year by the Ring Magazine. Although Provodnikov lost that bout, it earned him the international recognition and respect that he longed for in the USA. Ruslan rebounded from that loss by punching Mike Alvarado to submission on October 19, 2013 and capture the WBO Light Welterweight title.

Looking Forward to Big Fights

Provodnikov was looking forward to another big fight to start his 2014 campaign. But Juan Manuel Marquez chose to fight Mike Alvarado and Manny Pacquiao fought Timothy Bradley in a rematch. Another option was Bam Bam Rios, but he was said to be having difficulty in making the 140 lbs limit so the plan was scratched. Provodnikov said that he was “a little bit disappointed” that he would not be fighting the opponents that he wanted. But he said that he is looking forward to getting back in the ring on June 14 for his first title defense.

The Perfect Fight

In contrast, Algieri’s promoter Joe De Guardia called the Providnikov fight the “perfect fight” for Chris Agieri. He believes that the timing of the bout is perfect as Chris is coming off the big win over Taylor and fighting in New York would be big for Chris Algieri who is from Huntington.

But De Guardia said the bout will be a lot of firsts for his fighter. It will mark the first time that he will be fighting for a world title, in a premier network and on a big time venue. He also added that Provodnikov is one of the fastest rising stars in the business and is one of the toughest champions out there. De Guardia said that while there are a lot of things to Conquer, he believes that Algieri is looking forward to the opportunity of a lifetime.

Fighting Big Punchers

Algieri thinks that he’s got Provodnikov all figured out. He pointed out that he has fought two pressure fighters who had one punch knockouts power, much like Provodnikov. He singled out Jose Peralta and his last opponent, former IBF Junior Welterweight contender #4 Emmanuel Taylor. Algieri defeated both by unanimous decision. He added that he’s watched Provodnikov’s losses on tape and that the Siberian Rocky has a weakness against boxers who utilize the jab and movement.  But he also believes that with a bruiser like Ruslan in front of him, he’s got to stand and fight toe to toe at times.

Algieri is unbeaten in 19 bouts and has 8 KO’s but he is a virtual unknown in the boxing world. However, he was a former World Kickboxing Association Super Welterweight title holder who had a kickboxing record of 20-11 before retiring to become a professional boxer.

But despite the confidence and optimism, Algieri is up against huge odds.

Siberian Rocky

Provodnikov is one of today’s most exciting fighters. He has an outstanding record of 23-2 with 16 KO’s. Provodnikov streaked to 17 straight wins before losing a controversial bout to Mauricio Herrera in in 2011. Ruslan’s manager Vadim Kornilov brought him to the Wild Card gym to train with Freddie Roach.  There, Provodnikov had the opportunity to spar with Manny Pacquiao, who is Roach’s prized pupil. It was under Freddie Roach’s tutelage that Provodnikov honed his skills and improved to a world class fighter.

With two of Roach’s top pupils Pacquiao and Cotto coming up with big wins to start 2014 , Provodnikov hopes to make his master just as proud on Saturday night.

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