VERONA, NY — There was drama, blood, cuts and swelling during the anticipated clash between Lucas Matthysse and Ruslan Provodnikov. But alas, there can only be one winner, and Lucas Matthysse weathered a furious championship rounds push from Provodnikov to take a narrow majority decision win (114-114, 115-113 twice). Despite the lopsided punch stats in Matthysse’s favor (327-201 in punches landed), the contest was a tale of two fights.
“RUSLAN HAS NEVER BEEN ON HIS KNEES:” This Provodnikov quote still rings true post-fight. However, Provodnikov’s will was tested in ways we’ve never seen before. Matthysse started fast with bombing overhand rights and uppercuts. An errant head butt opened a wide, grotesque cut above Provodnikov’s left eye in the second. The Siberian Rocky would get in an occasional hard hook, but Matthysse continued to outland him by a large margin and appeared close to getting a stoppage by the end of the sixth round.
“He is the hardest puncher I have ever fought but I fight as hard as I can to the very end,” said Provodnikov. “I never want the fight stopped. The only time would be when I am on my back.”
With that mindset, Provodnikov slowly climbed back into the fight. When Matthysse attempted to rest inside, Provodnikov ripped him with jarring hooks upstairs. Matthysse’s powerful right became scarce and his offense degraded to scoring left jabs. The more significant damage was now being done by Provodnikov, who buckled Matthysse with a left hook and nearly achieved a knockdown in the 11th.
On my scorecard, Provodnikov took four of the last five rounds but still fell short 113-115. If Matthysse’s knee would’ve touched the canvas in the 11th, a draw would have happened on my ledger and made the draw unanimous with the official judges.
“Ruslan is a tough fighter, he took everything I threw at him. I have a lot of respect for him,” Matthysse lauded. “There was a point when I thought that they would stop the fight because of Ruslan’s cut, but his team was able to control it. I hurt my hand in the sixth round, but I kept going because I wanted to prove that I am the best in the division and that I am ready for the toughest fighters. I want to move forward and fight the winner of Mayweather-Pacquiao.”
CRAWFORD STAKES HIS CLAIM AT 140: Terence Crawford make a successful debut a junior welterweight by knocking out Thomas Dulorme in six rounds to pick up the WBO title. The fight was close due to Dulorme’s punch output and Crawford relying on defense and counter-punching. Even so, Crawford appeared to be in control and that was confirmed when he crashed home a 1-2 that put Dulorme down hard in the sixth. Crawford followed up patiently with an assortment of power shots to the body and head to drop Dulorme twice more and force the stoppage.
Unfortunately, promotional politics will likely prevent Crawford from unification opportunities with the division champion Danny Garcia. Should Crawford not be able to get a shot against Matthysse, he may look in-house at Top Rank for someone like Viktor Postol.
Whoever he faces, Crawford’s skills will make him the favorite over everyone in the division.