Verona, NY–The highly anticipated matchup between Lucas Matthysse and Ruslan Provodnikov, last Saturday night, fell slightly short of living up to the expectations of the first bout between Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo. But nonetheless, their contest produced enough excitement, drama, and violence to satisfy the criteria for fight of the year honors.
In the end, Matthysse, the tough and gritty former champion hailing from Argentina, was declared the victor of the bloody battle at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino. Matthysse edged out his Russian counterpart via a majority decision. Judges John McKaie and Glen Feldman overruled Don Ackerman’s scorecard of 114-114 (draw) by scores of 115-113 (7 rounds to 5) twice. zoomdune.com saw it the same as McKaie and Feldman. Although the fight was close numerically, Matthysse was able to distance himself from his gutsy foe, distinguishing himself as the superior fighter technically.
“He [Matthysse] was the better man tonight. He is the hardest puncher I have ever faced,” Provodnikov said, now 24-4, (17). “I wanted to win the fight no matter what. I just fight to the end, every time I come to the ring. I tell my trainer never to stop the fight.”
Provodnikov’s chief second, Marvin Somodio contemplated calling a halt to the action. Matthysse threw over 1,000 punches in the 12 round affair in which he landed with 327 of them.
“I thought of stopping the fight,” Somodio revealed, who was filling in for head trainer Freddie Roach. “He [Provodnikov] said don’t, I said what’s the point. He said that he would work his way back into the fight. And he did.”
The 32-year-old Matthysse, improved to 37-3, (34), with the victory. In doing so, he demonstrated excellent ring generalship, and executed a great game plan that he adhered to for most of the scrap. Matthysse fired powerful 1-2 combinations (left jab-straight right hands) against the flat-footed and defenseless Provodnikov, who’s threshold for pain is unparalleled to anything that the 4,500 in attendance have ever witnessed, Matthysse included.
“It surprised me how he [Provodnikov] was able to take some of those shots I hit him with,” Matthysse said. “He has the best chin of all the opponents that I have fought before. I was asking myself, how is he taking these shot? How is he not going down? Momentarily, I thought he eventually would. Then I quickly realized that he wasn’t, and that he was going to go out on his shield instead.”
The fight got off to a quick start, immediate spontaneous combustion. Both Matthysse and Provodnikov were on the offensive. Matthysse fired hard and fast shots down the middle, while Provodnikov looked to get on the inside to work the body. In the second frame, both Matthysse and Provodnikov clashed heads, opening a cut over Provodnikov’s left eye. In the middle rounds both fighters exchanged heavy leather in which the pair resembled the rock’em sock’em robot toys of the late 70’s.
As the fight progressed, the 31-year-old Provodnikov appeared to be falling behind on the scorecards by a wide margin, not mentioning that his face was becoming a grotesque mask. Towards the end of the eighth round, Provodnikov mounted a rally strong enough to create a shift in the momentum, that slightly altered the direction in which the fight was originally heading in.
Provodnikov swept the 10th, 11th, and 12th round on the judges’ scorecards. The 11th was huge for Provodnikov. Referee Benjy Esteves called for time when the tape on Matthysse’s glove became loose. When Esteves called for the action to resume, Provodnikov, making the most his additional 2 minute break, landed a left hook against Matthysse’s dome piece that left him on a wounded knee. Unfortunately for Provodnikov there wasn’t sufficient time for him to finish what he started.
“I feel very happy about this win,” Matthysse said. “This is what I know, Ruslan is one tough fighter. He took everything I threw at him and I respect him so much.”
As oppose to touching gloves, the 12th round opened up with both fighters embracing in the middle of the ring. Leading one to believe that they have a huge appreciation for what they have put each other through. But only to close the show with such style and grace.
Provodnikov’s promoter Artie Pelullo indicated to Maxboxing that there was no rematch clause in the contract.
“It was a great fight that lived up to the expectations,” Pellulo said. “The outcome of the fight was determined by a single point. I thought Ruslan won, HBO had it a draw, and the judges had Matthysse winning by a point. I don’t have a problem with that. It was a very close fight. Let’s do it again. Wouldn’t you want to see that again?”
It didn’t seem that Oscar De La Hoya and the rest of the staff at Golden Boy Promotions was interested. Even with Pelullo going as far as offering $10,000,000.00 and televising it on pay-per-view.
“I said before the fight that Lucas deserves the big names, like Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao next,” De La Hoya said at the post-fight press conference. “Right now, we will explore our options, see what we can do. But with all due respect to Provodnikov, we aren’t doing a rematch.
“I’m ready to take on the next great fighter,” said Matthysse. “I am ready to take on the winner of [Floyd] Mayweather- [Manny] Pacquiao.”
If you follow boxing, you know very well that this scenario is highly unlikely. Especially if Mayweather wins, Matthysse doesn’t bring enough to the table financially, in order to qualify for Mayweather’s farewell fight.
However, Top Rank and GBP may have set us up for a potential showdown in the not too distant future between Matthysse and 2014’s fighter of the year Terence Crawford. This past Saturday, Crawford stopped Puerto Rican contender Thomas Dulorme in the sixth round of a decent scrap.
In the opening bout of the HBO split-site broadcast from Arlington, Texas, Crawford captured a vacant junior welterweight title.