By:  Joseph Herron –

After winning the WBO Junior Welterweight Championship by stopping heralded tough guy and incumbent title holder “Mile High” Mike Alvarado in the reigning champ’s hometown of Denver, Colorado, on October 19th of last year, most fight fans would have guessed that big fight opportunities would be easily attainable for undefeated Russian native Ruslan Provodnikov in 2014.

With sledgehammers for fists and an iron chin to match, the irresistible force at 140 pounds always displays violent drama in the ring whenever he graces the light blue canvas…the kind that brings enthusiasm to arenas and excites fight fans around the world.

The 30 year old champ represents the kind of warrior that most avid boxing enthusiasts are willing to support.

So with a fan friendly style and a piece of coveted hardware around his waist, why is the HBO featured title holder still searching for a suitable challenger?

Ruslan’s promoter, Artie Pellulo, believes that most fighters in and around his Junior Welterweight champion’s weight division understand the obvious dangers in facing a competitor like Provodnikov.

“He always poses that brutal knock-out threat,” professes the CEO and president of Banner Promotions. “Ruslan could be losing every round going into the final stanza of a prizefight and still pull out the victory by landing one perfect shot to the chin. Everyone who saw his fights with Bradley and Alvarado last year found out what we’ve known for a very long time…that Ruslan is one of the most devastating punchers in the entire sport.”

On March 16th, 2013, Provodnikov made his HBO debut against two division world champion and pound for pound fighter Timothy Bradley for the “Desert Storm’s” WBO Welterweight title.

Despite being a 5 to 1 underdog going into the championship bout, Ruslan made his presence felt early in the fight by staggering the customarily granite chinned Tim Bradley in the closing seconds of the opening round with a perfectly timed overhand right.

Although Provodnikov eventually received the short end of a controversial unanimous decision verdict, the hard punching challenger floored the heavily favored fight veteran in the twelfth round and arguably decked Bradley two additional times without receiving credit for the knock-downs from referee Pat Russell throughout the contest.

Directly following the entertaining war of attrition, the declared winner had much to say about his hammer fisted opponent.

“I suffered a concussion early in the fight…Ruslan is a great warrior,” admitted Tim Bradley. “He’ll beat any 140 and 147 pounder out there. I’m telling you, he’s the real deal.”

Despite losing his first big title opportunity, it was obvious to everyone who had witnessed the eventual “Fight of the Year” for 2013 that Ruslan Provodnikov had officially arrived.

The newly crowned WBO title holder truly enjoyed a break-out year in 2013, and looked very impressive in both outings against two respected champions; even in controversial loss.

Perhaps a little too impressive.

Although there was brief discussion between Banner Promotions and Top Rank, Inc, concerning possible PPV bouts with both Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez respectively, the two legendary fighters elected to entertain other offers.

Pellulo believes that the best at 140 and 147 pounds can run, but they can’t hide.

“Right now, we’re working on finding Ruslan an opponent for a possible June 14th date on HBO, and it’s going to be somewhat of a ‘stay busy’ fight with a credible fighter at Junior Welterweight. Although we want to see him in the ring with the proven champions at either 140 or 147 pounds, guys like Manny and JMM don’t want any part of Ruslan Provodnikov at this time.”

“But it’s going to happen sooner or later. Pacquiao, Marquez, Bradley, and even Floyd Mayweather will have to fight him eventually, because Ruslan isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.”




By Chris Morris/Rocky Mountain Boxing /
Photos: Michael V. Ornelas –

‘Mile High’ Mike Alvarado welcomed Ruslan Provodnikov to Denver properly with a gift, an authentic Peyton Manning jersey. Provodnikov was thankful but was quick to add “You don’t know but the only number I like is #1″ in reference to the #18 on the Manning Jersey.

Fred Sternburg opened the press conference by thanking everyone for coming and thanking everyone involved. He then turned the floor over to Top Rank president Todd duBoef. DuBoef again thanked everyone before making a joke about Sternburg’s flight. Usually Sternburg has to travel to the press conferences but this one was right here in his hometown. He also joked about the fight negotiation saying that he and Alvarado were arm wrestling at one point. “I don’t know where it came from but he was challenging me and he obviously got more money out of me.”

DuBoef then spoke about the satisfaction of taking a fighter like Alvarado from his pro debut through his whole career and then having him defend his world title in his hometown, calling it ‘magical’, mentioning Miguel Cotto, Johnny Tapia and Danny Romero.

DuBoef went on to introduce ‘the birthday boy’ Peter Nelson, (who turned 32 today) director of programming at HBO Sports. Nelson praised both fighters for their previous performances including fight of the year candidates. “One thing that each of these fighters demonstrably shows each time they go out in the ring is that they are there to show more heart and guts and brawn than most other fighters in the sport ever do. So it’s a great privilege to find one fighter in the sport like this and it’s dumb luck to find two and we couldn’t be more ecstatic that we could actually put a fight like this together. For us it’s an honor to be able to get a fight like this together because we know it’s going to deliver for the fans. It also, for us, had an HBO attachment to it because we are going to be premiering that night as well, a ‘Legendary Nights’ documentary on the Arturo Gatti-Micky Ward trilogy. And while there will never be another Gatti-Ward we felt in large part that pairing that documentary and that programming with this fight is significant. Because we feel that while you’re never going to duplicate a fight like that we felt this fight captures the spirit, honors the spirit in which those two great warriors engaged each other in battle. So for us this was a homerun.”

Artie Pellulo from Banner Promotions added, “Since the moment the fight was mentioned on the internet, everybody knows what these guys are about. This (Alvarado) is a great young fighter and so is he (Provodnikov). They have no quit. They have no back up. It’s the most fan friendly fight in a long long time. And the loser will not lose. It’s a great opportunity for both of them. They are right now at the top of what they do. I met Ruslan in Russia and he said ‘Artie, I want to come to America and win world titles and I want to be a star. Because I need to have something for my family. I want to be what I am. I am a fighter’”.


Ruslan Provodnikov next took the podium and spoke through his manager and translator, Vadim Kornilov. “It’s not very often a boxer gets a second chance like this. I feel like lately I’ve been having a lot of luck in what I do. I feel like I am getting more and more on my feet. Whether that’s going to continue or it’s going to end, it’s all going to depend on this fight for me. I can confidently say that we’re both going to create a war and I’m pretty sure one of is probably going to remain laying in the ring after the fight. I will pray for both I and Mike, to make sure that we both have a great training camp and we’re both in the ring on October 19th feeling great and 100% ready. I wish him a lot of luck and I hope to see everyone on October 19th.”


Mike Alvarado’s longtime manager Henry Delgado gave praise to Top Rank for the handling and guiding of Alvarado’s career and gave them credit for much of his success. He also thanked Peter Nelson and HBO for “stepping up and taking Mike on as one of their fighters. ” He then spoke about the fight saying “I want to thank Ruslan for taking the fight. They both only know one way and that’s forward. And when you have two objects coming forward, I mean it’s going to be a crash and I’m going to see that on October the 19th. It feels good to be back home, where it all started.”

Alvarado was introduced to a huge round of applause. He started by saying, “I want to thank God for making this blessing come true. ” He then thanked Top Rank and HBO. “It’s gonna be a great show. It’s a dream come true. Having this fight in my hometown with a warrior like Provodnikov, it’s gonna be a huge blessing for me. Being able to entertain my city and bring it home to all the people who helped support me and are behind me 100%. I want to thank Provodnikov for taking this fight in my hometown. That’s a big thing for somebody to want to come into somebody else’s backyard against a warrior like myself and challenge for a world title. ”

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Alvarado then gave Provodnikov the gift of a Denver Broncos Peyton Manning jersery. “I don’t know if you have an NFL team that you like but you can be a Bronco fan.” To which Provodnikov quipped, “You don’t know but he would like you to know his favorite number is number 1.” This drew cheers and laughs from the fans and media on hand.

Tickets go on sale Friday being priced $200, $150 and $25. The fight will be held at the First Bank Center in Broomfield, Colorado on October 19th.