Provodnikov stops Alvarado in 10th to win WBO title

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Ruslan Provodnikov, Manny Pacquiao’s hard-punching sparring partner, won the World Boxing Organization junior welterweight champion by a 10th round technical knockout over defending champion Mike Alvarado on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) at the 1st Bank Center in Denver, Colorado.

Provodnikov decked Alvarado twice with crunching power punches to the head and body in the eighth round and finished off the defending champion late in the 10th.

The fight was stopped by referee Tony Weeks, who asked repeatedly Alvarado if he wanted to continue and Alvarado responded he did not.

Provodnikov, who was coached by Filipino trainer Marvin Somodio in the absence of head trainer Freddie Roach, pressed the action from the opening bell, repeatedly backing Alvarado to the ropes with hard combinations. Roach had decided to concentrate on the training in General Santos City of Pacquiao and allowed his trusted Filipino assistant to call the shots

Nicknamed “the Siberian Rocky” for his relentless come-forward attacking style, Provodnikov hurt Alvarado with a solid right to the ribs midway in the eighth and dropped him off the ropes for the first time.

Alvarado was down again with about half a minute left in the round, but it seemed a matter of time from there before he got knocked out.

In the post fight interview, Provodnikov said he followed the instructions of his Pinoy chief corner man, whom he called “the Filipino Freddie Roach.”

Both fighter and trainer showed supreme confidence throughout the fight as Somodio shouted instructions for Provodnikov to throw more punches.

Alvarado avoided trading punches with the heavy handed Provodnikov, but the Siberian challenger cut the ring and sustained the attack with hard right hands to the body, followed by quick left-right combination upstairs.

Provodnikov first caught the fans’ attention when he forced WBO welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley to a brawl, narrowly losing a close unanimous decision.

The Siberian slugger hurt Bradley in the opening round and forced him to take a knee in the 12th round in a clever move to avoid a knockout.

Bradley earned a close but well-deserved split decision last Saturday against Pacquiao tormentor Juan Manuel Marquez, likely setting the stage for a Bradley-Provodnikov rematch in the near future.

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