Brains vs. Brawn at Barclays Center
Underdog Algieri Hopes to Outsmart Provodnikov Saturday Night
Chris Algieri has a very simple plan for beating Ruslan Provodnikov and walking out of the ring with a stunning upset and the WBO Junior Welterweight Championship belt strapped around his waist Saturday night at the Barclays Center.
“I have to go out there and control the center of the ring. Push the pace and go out there and use my boxing IQ,” Algieri revealed after his workout at Downtown’s legendary Gleason’s Gym Tuesday afternoon.
“I have been preparing for the power by not getting hit.”
That strategy may be much easier said than done.
Provodnikov (23-2, 16 KOs) is emerging as one of the more notable up-and-coming contenders in the welterweight division, having scored his last six victories via knockout.
He has drawn considerable interest for future bouts against the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez, Brandon Rios, Amir Khan and perhaps even a rematch with Timothy Bradley, against whom he dropped a disputed decision back in March 2013.
And the crowd at Barclays on Saturday night figures to be strongly in his corner in a headline bout that will be televised on HBO.
“A lot of my friends and fans from my hometown will be coming to my fight,” Provodnikov revealed following his own workout. “Barclays Center and Brooklyn already feels like second home to me … I enjoy having my fans from Russia at my fights.”
As for Algieri (19-0, 8 KOs), he’s simply considered a tune-up for the Russian powerhouse, who captured his crown by scoring a dramatic 10th-round stoppage of junior welterweight champion Mike Alvarado last October.
But the as-yet-undefeated boxer from Huntington, N.Y., isn’t the least bit interested in becoming just another notch on Provodnikov’s title belt.
“Pressure has always made me step up to the competition,” insisted Algieri, who graduated with honors from Stony Brook in 2007 with a Bachelors of Science in Health Care Management and then went on to receive his Masters degree from the New York Institute of Technology in 2010.
“I prepared, I am in shape,” added the 30-year-old future medical school student hopeful. “Fight night, I am going to show who I really am. Ruslan has this great power in his punches but if you can’t land them, the power really doesn’t matter.”
Provodnikov, known as “The Siberian Rocky”, doesn’t believe Algieri’s brains will be nearly enough to overcome his brawn in the squared circle this weekend.
“Algieri seems like a smart man and I expect him to be a smart boxer,” Provodnikov, also 30, readily admitted. “We’ll see how practical his boxing theories are in the ring on Saturday.
“If I have to die in the ring to win, that is what I will do. Is Algieri willing to do the same? He had better or he will not defeat me.”
Channeling his inner-Drago, Provodnikov appears primed to put on a show for the thousands in attendance on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, not to mention the millions tuning in across the globe.
Algieri remains steadfast in his belief that he can not only frustrate his opponent, but use the internationally televised bout as a platform for his own coming out party.
“I believe my maturity as an adult has helped me throughout this whole process,” Algeiri noted. “It’s been hectic but smooth. I have fought in world title fights as a kick-boxer. I have been the underdog and fought in large venues. That has prepared me for this. … I know I belong with these guys and I know I can beat them and now I am ready to prove it again on June 14.”
Provodnikov’s trainer, the legendary Freddie Roach, also tipped his hat to Algieri’s impressive academic credentials before citing that they will be of little to no use to him once the opening bell rings Saturday night.
“He may be undefeated, but Chris Algieri has never faced anyone like Ruslan,” Roach reminded those in attendance. “He may be a good student in school, but Ruslan will be teaching Algieri a crash course on how to lose.
“Algieri has a degree in nutrition and claims to be on a healthy diet,” Roach added. “We’ll see how well he digests the rights and lefts Ruslan serves up to him on Saturday.”
According to the upset-minded Algieri, he’ll be the one serving up the main course Saturday night.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I would win,” he stated boldly. “I am not much into prediction but all I can on Saturday, ‘And the New….!”
Ring Notes: The co- main event Saturday will feature undefeated WBO junior middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade of Providence, RI, making his first title defense, against No. 1 contender and mandatory challenger Brian Rose of Blackpool, England. … The under card includes undefeated WBC Continental America’s Light Heavyweight champion and Top-10 contender Seanie “Irish” Monaghan of Long Beach, L.I., and the first professional woman’s fight at Barclays Center, featuring Brooklyn’s-own Heather “The Heat” Hardy. … Tickets for the event, priced at $31, $56, $86, $106 and $206, are still available and can be purchased online via Ticketmaster by visiting www.barclayscenter.com or www.ticketmaster.com, or by calling 800-745-3000. Tickets are also available at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center.
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