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Provodnikov switches out Roach for Joel Diaz

Freddie RoachBy Dan Ambrose: With three defeats in his last five fights, it’s not surprising that #4 WBO, #5 WBC, #8 WBA light welterweight contender Ruslan Provodnikov (24-4, 17 KOs) would go in another direction by switching out his trainer Freddie Roach in favor of Joel Diaz, the former trainer for Tim Bradley.

What might especially sunk Roach’s ship was him not being able to be there for Provodnikov’s last fight against Lucas Matthysse last April. Provodnikov took the fight with assistant trainer Marvin Somodio guiding him, while Roach was busy training Manny Pacquiao for his big fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Roach also couldn’t be with Provodnikov for his fight against Mike Alvarado in October 2013, because he was getting Pacquiao ready for his fight against Brandon Rios for November 2013.

Bradley, 32, recently let Diaz go after his win over Jessie Diaz. Bradley’s new trainer is the well-known ESPN boxing analyst Teddy Atlas. Bradley thinks that Atlas’ keen insight will help him get the most out of the remainder of his career.

The two of them will be working with one another for the first time next month when Bradley faces former WBA lightweight champion Brandon Rios on November 7th on HBO Championship Boxing at the Thomas & Mack Center, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“Things fall into place when you least expect it in this business,” Diaz said to ESPN.com. “I always come with respect, and I approached Vadim [Kornilov] after the fight with Tim Bradley and told him, ‘Hell of a fight’ and that I was a big fan of Ruslan’s,” Diaz said. “Since that moment, we’ve always run into each other at different fights and been friendly. I would always ask him how Ruslan is doing.”

Kornilov is Provodnikov’s manager. Provodnikov clearly needed a change with his trainer situation because he was going nowhere with Roach as his trainer, and it obviously wasn’t a good thing that he fought without Roach in his corner on two occasions.

Roach has so many top fighters that it’s difficult for him to always be there for guys. But I think it would have made any difference even if Roach had been there for Provodnikov in his loss to Matthysse. He was simply fighting a better fighter on that night.

In Provodnikov’s losses to Tim Bradley, Chris Algieri and Mauricio Herrera, he was simply out-boxed. Bradley beat Provodnikov in 2013 in a war. It was a winnable fight for Provodnikov, but Bradley got the better of him when he boxed in the middle of the fight to win crucial rounds.

Roach recently said that he wants to see Provodnikov get a rematch with Matthysse, because he’d like to see how he would do if he focused more on boxing him rather than slugging him. But if that fight does ever happen, it won’t be with Roach as the Russian fighter’s trainer.

“Ruslan is a very strong fighter, a lot of heart, a lot of pressure, but he needs to work a little more on defense because he gets hit a lot,” Diaz said.

With the amount of punishment that Provodnikov took in the Matthysse fight, it was clear then that he needed a new trainer that could teach him some defense because he took way too many hard head shots in that fight.

A good defensive trainer would have made sure that Provodnikov came into that fight with some skills that would keep him from taking that kind of a battering. All they needed to do was watch Danny Garcia vs. Matthysse fight to get the blueprint in how to beat Matthysse by jabbing, clinching constantly and moving a lot. Provodnikov did none of that in the Matthysse fight.

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