From the Denver Post
BROOMFIELD — As he relentlessly rumbled forward, never backpedaling, patient Russian slugger Ruslan Provodnikov stalked a victory Saturday night against Denver's Mike Alvarado.
After he knocked down Alvarado a second time in the decisive eighth round, Provodnikov turned and screamed, showing a mouthful of blood.
It was that kind of fight, all blood and guts, until Alvarado shook his head no.
Provodnikov — in front of a hostile, booing Colorado crowd chanting "303" for their hometown champion — won the World Boxing Organization junior welterweight title with a 10th-round technical knockout.
"It's the same as Sugar Ray Leonard when he beat Roberto Duran and he said I don't want to fight anymore," said Provodnikov, the "Siberian Rocky." "This is the best way I could become the champion. I made him not want to fight me anymore."
For Alvarado (34-2), it was not a dream homecoming. Fighting in Colorado for the first time since 2011 — in the first major boxing title fight here since 2000 — Alvarado was beaten at his own game.
Over his past four fights, Alvarado gained a national reputation as an exciting, brawling fighter. But he also showed flashes of boxing brilliance in beating Brandon Rios in March.
Against Provodnikov (23-2), Alvarado lost rounds by trading heavy shots, then won them back by moving and boxing. He fell behind in the first and third after pressing his forehead against the Russian and swinging away. But Alvarado rallied in the second and fourth rounds when he punched and moved.
By the eighth round, Alvarado's distance was closed off. Provodnikov twice drew him into a melee against the ropes.
Mike Alvarado is knocked to the ground for the first time after taking huge shots against Russian Ruslan Provodnikov. More photos. (Joe Amon, The Denver Post)
In the end, the two landed nearly the same number of jabs. But Provodnikov outnumbered in total punches, power punches and body shots.
"There's no excuse. I was winning that fight," Alvarado said.
After the 10th, referee Tony Weeks said he twice asked Alvarado if he wanted to continue. "And Mike said each time, 'No.' "
Alvarado's longtime trainer, Shann Vilhauer, was fuming about his fighter's tactics.
"I think he just started reading all these clips after the Rios fight, that he was a great boxer," Vilhauer said. "And he got away from what he's best at. This guy was tailor-made for him. He didn't take advantage."
Despite the loss, the next step in Alvarado's career likely won't be backward. He could move up to the jam-packed 147-pound welterweight division. And Provodnikov's promoter, Art Pelullo, suggested he'd be open for a rematch.
A rubber match third fight between Alvarado and Rios also could be in the offing. And Manny Pacquiao holds bargaining power.
"I have a lot of heart," Alvarado said. "I'm not a quitter."
From the Denver Post