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Dogs of War: Matthysse vs. Provodnikov

Lucas Matthysse(Photo credit: Emily Harney – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions) By Daniel Reed: Tonight, on the day of Saturday, April 18th, only mere hours away, boxing fans across the world could possibly be treated to something special and unique taking place in the Turning Stone Arena, Verona, New York. Two fighters in the Super-Lightweight division who prefer to talk with their fists and are old-school warriors to the core will be laying it all on the line tonight.

From different corners of the world but with the same attitude, you may come close to being able to predict what may happen but the truth is nobody knows exactly what will transpire tonight, that is because this fight is a true 50/50 fight, and the number of possible outcomes leave only one thing certain, there will be fireworks.

Hailing from the tough streets of Trelew, Chubut, Argentina, is one of the aforementioned warriors you will be seeing tonight. His name is Lucas Martin Matthysse, also known as La Máquina, The Machine. When this guy steps in the ring, get your popcorn ready, matter of fact, better have that stuff already popped and ready to eat because the fight could be over by the time you get back to your seat. Matthysse carries on the tradition of Argentine fighters carrying a big punch, and he seemingly does it effortlessly. Records don’t mean everything in boxing, but in looking at Matthysse’s you can tell he is a man you don’t want to be taking lightly. 36 wins, only 3 defeats, and 34 knockouts to his credit out of his 36 wins, giving him an 85% KO ratio, with 23 of those knockouts coming within 3 rounds. This man can hit, whether you like Matthysse or not, you have to concede that point.

Usually when you get a fighter with a record like that, you come to the conclusion that if someone is to beat him they simply need to survive the early rounds and then take him to the late rounds where his power and stamina will greatly fade, this is not the case with Matthysse however. Back in September of 2012, Matthysse fought a gritty and tough, undefeated Nigerian southpaw named Ajose Olusegun (who was 30-0 with 14 knockouts at the time) in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Vegas for the interim WBC World Super-Lightweight Title. Olusegun’s toughness and big heart took him into the late rounds with Matthysse, but ultimately the accumulation of punishment from the hands of the concussive-punching Matthysse wore him down and he was TKO’ed in round 10 of 12. So it is evident Matthysse’s power and stamina carry into the later rounds.

Matthysse’s last three fights consisted of him losing a highly competitive bout by 12 round Unanimous decision to Light-Welterweight kingpin Danny Garcia (for Garcia’s WBA and WBC World Super-Lightweight Titles), an all-out classic brawl with the hard hitting John Molina Jr. of California which he won by 11th round KO after having been down twice and putting Molina down three times himself, and a 2nd round blowout of undefeated Mexican fighter Roberto Ortiz in Cincinnati. However other notable names on Matthysse’s record include Zab Judah (to whom he lost a highly controversial split decision), Devon Alexander (whom he also lost a highly controversial split decision to), Humberto Soto (won by TKO in round 5), Mike Dallas Jr. (knocked him cold in the first round), and Lamont Peterson, whom Matthysse flattened in the 3rd round.

In the other corner we have another devastating puncher who literally burst onto the scene with a bang. Ruslan “The Siberian Rocky” Provodnikov (24-3, 17 KO’s) is another man you would have nightmares about running into in a dark alley somewhere. This Slavic warrior grew up in Beryozovo, Siberia, Russia, in a small village, and he grew up eating raw deer hearts at times. If that’s not intimidating in and of itself I don’t know what is. Provodnikov literally loves and lives to fight and is a man who knows no bounds. People first took notice, real notice, of Provodnikov when he was involved in 2013’s Fight-of-The-Year war with top flight fighter, Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley. And a brutal war it was, Provodnikov dropped Bradley twice (one knockdown in the first round which was not called a knockdown, and once in the 12th and had him out on his feet in several of the rounds. However, Bradley rallied, using slick boxing skill to outwork and outbox Provodnikov during the middle to late rounds of the fight, earning himself a Unanimous decision victory, and barely holding on to his WBO World Welterweight Title.

Provodnikov’s heart, sheer punching power prowess, and skill at such a high level earned him worldwide recognition and even in losing a close decision, stamped his imprint on the high rankings of the talent loaded Super-Lightweight division, much like Matthysse did against Judah and Alexander. In his next fight, the Siberian Rocky got a shot at the WBO World Super-Lightweight Title, in the 1STBANK Center in Denver Colorado, the hometown of his opponent, Mike “Mile High” Alvarado. Alvarado had just come off his impressive boxing performance to win his rematch with Brandon Rios. It was impressive to see how Provodnikov proceeded to just systematically walk Alvarado down. You may just see Provodnikov and Matthysse as brawlers who can punch, but there really is a method to their madness, and they do employ some smart technique and impressive combinations on the inside.

At the end of the night what really happened is that Provodnikov broke Alvarado in this fight. He hurt him to the head, he hurt him to the body, knocked him down twice in the 8th round, and Alvarado could do nothing at the time to keep Provodnikov off of him, so the brave Alvarado retired at the end of the 10th round. Following this performance Provodnikov lost his first title defense by split decision in New York to New York’s very own slick boxer, Chris Algieri, who was 19-0 at the time. Provodnikov’s power and expertise on the inside was on display early, as he was able to get in close to Algieri and score two knockdowns. The first being a crunching left hook as Algieri threw his left hook, and the second when Algieri took a knee just to clear his head. As the fight wore on however, Provodnikov had trouble with Algieri’s slick boxing style and wound up losing his early lead, and losing what was an excruciatingly close fight. Following that fight, Provodnikov returned home to Russia and scored a 5th round TKO over faded Mexican boxing legend Jose Luis Castillo.

If you’ve seen either of these fighters in action, it becomes evident that a bout between the two, could have the ingredients to become an epic action bout that could possibly go down in boxing history. Neither of these fighters are perfect, both of these fighters have faults, defensively and offensively, albeit that they have performed honorably and very well at a high-level of boxing. Both of them have power, heart, determination, and incredible mental toughness, and last but not least, both of them really want this fight. They are seeking a fight to launch themselves back onto the big scene and earn them legitimacy at the same time, if there ever was a fight for either of these fighters to use as a springboard, this is it, this is THAT fight. And as much as both men are savages in the ring, they have proven to be true gentlemen outside it, classy warriors with an honor code, they will only have respect for each other once the final bell rings. If you have any idea of when boxing is good, you will know this is a good fight, one well worth paying attention to. This is the calm before the storm, but once the first bell rings, let loose the dogs of war.

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