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Provodnikov says Joel Diaz has improved his defense

LatestBy Jim Dower: The struggling former WBO 140lb champion Ruslan Provodnikov (24-4, 17 KOs) says his new trainer Joel Diaz has improved his defense in the short amount of time that he’s been working with him since replacing popular trainer Freddie Roach as his lead guy.

Provodnikov’s defense has been so poor his entire career that it’s not surprising that he’s seeing improvement. When there’s no defense at all like there is with Provodnikov, then any improvement is dramatic. Provodnikov, 31, will get a chance to test his improvement next month in his fight against unbeaten Jesus Alvarez Rodriguez (14-0, 11 KOs) in their 10 round fight on November 7th at the Salle des Etoiles in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

Rodriguez has an unbeaten record, but he’s beaten weak opponents. This is little more than a mismatch/showcase fight for Provodnikov. He’s not going to be put in with anyone good right now because he’s trying to turn his sagging career around.

“I had a great camp! My trainer Joel Diaz has done a lot of work on improving my defense and I already have felt certain improvements in sparring! I Hope to see everybody on November 7 in Monte Carlo!,” Provodnikov said.

Provodnikov has suffered recent defeats at the hands of Lucas Matthysse and Chris Agieri in the past year. Both losses were narrow ones, but both of them involved Provodnikov taking a great deal of punishment to the head.

After his narrow 12 round majority decision loss to Matthysse last April, it was clear that Provodnikov needed a change. His face looked like hamburger after that fight, and he had absorbed way too much punishment for his own good.

The major question is can the 5’6” Provodnikov be successful fighting defensively?

When you’ve been fighting with same style that Provodnikov has for his entire nine year pro career, it’s pretty much impossible to change your style overnight. It’s just not feasible to make wholesale changes at his age.

While Provodnikov might be able to show defensive improvements against a limited fighter like the 23-year-old Jesus Alvarez Rodriguez, it’s a much different story to do that against a top fighter in the 140lb division instead of the poor opposition.

Rodriguez’s last six fights have come against Bryan Abraham (6-20-2), Victor Esquer (5-23-1), Eduardo Santos (2-2-1), Fidel Lopez (6-8), Gonzalo Juzaino (6-23-1) and Jessie Leyva (1-2). This is going to be a major step up for Rodriguez to face Provodnikov, and obviously he’s not going to be ready for that step up.

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