Ruslan Provodnikov wore down Mike Alvarado all night with blow after powerful blow until Alvarado could not answer the bell to start the 11th round.
The Russian fighter nicknamed the “Siberian Rocky” stunned Alvarado to capture the WBO junior welterweight title on Saturday.
Provodnikov (23-2) knocked down Alvarado (34-2) twice in the eighth round with a series of punches near the ropes and finished him off late in the 10th. The fight was halted by referee Tony Weeks, who asked Alvarado a few times if he wanted to continue and Alvarado responded that he did not.
To Provodnikov, he could not have envisioned a better ending, comparing Alvarado throwing in the towel to Roberto Duran famously saying: “No mas [no more]” in a fight against Sugar Ray Leonard in 1980.
“I made him not want to fight me anymore,” Provodnikov said through a translator. “This is the best way I could become the champion.”
Top Rank founder and chief executive Bob Arum, who promotes Alvarado, said his boxer might have suffered a concussion.
Provodnikov did not have trainer Freddie Roach in his corner. Roach remained in the Philippines to work out with Manny Pacquiao, who fights Brandon Rios next month in Macau.
“My team told me: ‘You’re ready, come out and become a champion,’” Provodnikov said through a translator.
Not even chants from the home crowd could lift Alvarado, who grew up in Denver and was wearing blue-and-orange trunks in honor of the Denver Broncos. Alvarado got lured into Provodnikov’s kind of fight — more brawling than boxing — and never recovered. This was quite a contrast to Alvarado’s win over Rios seven months ago, when he had a near flawless fight.
“It just wasn’t Mike’s night. He was too defensive,” said Shann Vilhauer, the trainer for Alvarado. “I think he just started reading all these clips after the [Brandon] Rios fight, that he was a great boxer and he got away from what he’s best at. This guy [Provodnikov] was tailor made for him. He didn’t take advantage.”
After the fight, Alvarado said that Provodnikov threw the hardest punches he has ever encountered. He also said manager Henry Delgado stopped the fight and that he agreed with the decision.
“It was not worth taking more punishment because the damage could be permanent,” Alvarado said. “It just wasn’t my night. I have a lot of heart. I’m not a quitter.”
This was the biggest bout in the area since former WBC lightweight champion Stevie Johnston fell to Jose Luis Castillo in 2000. It also was the first time HBO has televised a live fight from Colorado.
Provodnikov did not pay any attention to the pre-fight “boos,” or the crowd constantly chanting, “3-0-3,” the city’s area code.
“If you want to be a world champion, you have to risk it — go and fight the best, go to his hometown,” Provodnikov said.
With the win, Provodnikov could likely be in line for the winner of Pacquiao and Rios. The other likely candidate is Timothy Bradley Jr, a fighter Provodnikov lost to in a memorable bout in March.
A rematch with Alvarado is not out of the question, either.
“Unbelievable,” said Arthurt Pelullo, the president of Banner Promotions, which represents Provodnikov. “He had a great game plane. Even though Freddie wasn’t here, he stuck to the game plan. Alvarado is a tough son of a gun. He was the kind of kid you’ve got to give respect to. He’s a champion.”