Despite what Ruslan Provodnikov said following their championship fight, Chris Algieri was not a runner. What he was doing was cleverly avoiding the hooks and uppercuts of Provodnikov while firing off many of his own jabs, beautiful hooks and uppercuts. The reason boxing is referred to as the sweet science is because it’s so much more than simply fighting toe to toe like “Rock’em Sock’em Robots”. And while toe-to-toe fighting can be very entertaining, if skillful, sometimes toe-to-toe fighting is just two bad fighters beating themselves up because they have no skill.
What Algieri demonstrated against Provodnikov is not only tremendous heart and guts after being knocked down twice in the first round, but an ability to fight and adjust his game plan in the face of adversity. That’s what makes a truly great fighter. When Sugar Ray Leonard was losing badly in his fight with Thomas Hearns he found a way to win despite being beaten up. Now I am in no way comparing Algieri with Leonard at this early point in his career but what I am saying is that he has the heart and the tools and they can and should prove to be effective allies for Algieri as he works his way through the tough and talented junior welterweight division. The fact that he didn’t fight in the amateurs is more than offset by his kickboxing ability. I will certainly be there to watch his next fight and will take great pride in knowing that he’s also a Martial Artist who clearly uses some of those skills in his fighting.
One final comment. Provodnikov’s claim that he doesn’t fight well against “runners” is probably one the stupidest comments made by a boxer in years. Great boxers can fight anyone and be impressive. Either you’re fighter or you’re not. That’s why he will always be known as a tough, gritty, fighter who only fights well against opponents who are made to order. Attention all boxers: only call Ruslan Provodnikov for a fight if you’re willing to stand toe to toe with him and not defend yourself or move left or right because then you’ll be called a runner as opposed to a skillful, intelligent boxer. Provodnikov’s stock dropped significantly because of that lame excuse following the fight. In contrast, Algieri, with his eye practically closed and fighting on pure instinct and ability, when asked by his corner how he was feeling after the eighth round, said “Great”. That’s what boxers are made of, no excuses.
Congratulations Chris Algieri! Those of us who are lifelong boxing fans look forward, with great anticipation, to your next fight. You raised the eyebrows of a lot of people and for one night in Brooklyn, reminded fight fans why they love boxing.