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Earlier tonight, at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York, the two hardest-hitting Junior Welterweights in the world stepped into the ring in what was expected to be a Fight of the Year candidate.
As expected, there was blood, but it was mostly on the face of Ruslan Provodnikov (24-4, 17 KOs), who suffered a majority decision loss to Lucas Matthysse (37-3, 34 KOs) in the main event of a doubleheader that was televised on HBO in the U.S.
Surprisingly, there were no knockdowns, but Matthysse was able to display his boxing skills while Provodnikov’s chin allowed him to stay in the fight and earn some of the later rounds.
It was an early start in Rounds 1 and 2 that set the pace for the Argentine 32-year-old, as he used double and triple jabs to keep Provodnikov away before landing straight right hands and uppercuts.
A headbutt in Round 2 made things even worse for Provodnikov, as it caused a cut above his left eye that would bloody his face for the entire fight.
The 31-year-old Russian then began to land hooks in right hands in Rounds 3 and 4, which momentarily backed Matthysse up.
Despite this slight comeback, Matthysse was able to consistently outbox and outland Provodnikov, who had a much harder time cutting the ring tonight than he did last year against Chris Algieri–a pure boxer who moves very well around the ring.
It was a combination of Matthysse’s boxing skills and his power that kept Provodnikov from cutting the ring. It was without a doubt that Matthysse was the better boxer, but he was able to back his skills up with power shots–something Algieri couldn’t do.
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“In the earlier rounds I moved well, but later my legs grew tired,” said Matthysse, whose boxing slowly deteriorated as the rounds progressed.
There were speculations about Matthysse’s ability to take a punch as he was dropped by both John Molina Jr. and Danny Garcia, but it was only until Round 11 that Provodnikov landed a thunderous left hook that wobbled Matthysse.
“In the 11th he hit me in the side of the head and I definitely felt that shot,” said Matthysse, who clinched Provodnikov as he slowly recovered.
Provodnikov, despite taking punishment the entire night, was hardly wobbled, although his head snapped back several times and his face was severely marked.
“He was the hardest puncher I’ve ever fought,” said Provodnikov, who was apologetic to the Russian fans who went to see him.
Provodnikov closed he distance a bit on the scorecards as the fight finished and, in Rounds 11 and 12, he landed powerful shots on a tired Matthysse, whose right eye began to swell a bit.
The early lead, however, was too much for Provodnikov to overcome, as Matthysse won with scores of 115-113 and 115-113, while one judge had it a 114-114 draw. RBRBoxing.com also scored it 115-113 for the Argentine.
Matthysse said he’d like the winner of the unification fight between Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao, but he may be closer to a fight against another top-ten 140-pounder such as Terence Crawford, who won the WBO title tonight against Thomas Dulorme.