Chris Algieri earned a split decision over Russian badass Ruslan Provodnikov to capture the WBO junior welterweight belt on Saturday night in front of 6,218 fans at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
A merciless assaulter with cement fists and a granite chin, Provodnikov (23-3, 16 KOs) floored Algieri (20-0, 8 KOs) twice in the opening round.
Oozing confidence and performing in peak condition, Provodnikov badly defaced Algieri and the undefeated challenger quickly developed a grotesquely swollen, bloody and closed right eye.
However, displaying remarkable testicular fortitude, Algieri endured and managed to outbox the “Siberian Rocky.”
Using deft footwork and an effective jab, the 5-foot-11 Algieri kept the 5-foot-6 Provodnikov at an honest distance following the first four frames.
"It was a great fight. The big thing was getting out of the first round to start with," said Algieri, 30, a Long Island native who previously had overcome a fleet of tomato cans.
"He hit me with a pretty good shot. I took a knee the second time because my lip was numb, I wanted to clear my head and see how my eye was. It wasn't anything he hit me with. The shots in the first round were the most powerful but they were few and far between."
Legendary trainer Freddie Roach warned Provodnikov that he needed a knockout with roughly nine minutes remaining in the bout.
"I felt like after the knockdown I was trying to land the big punch," said Provodnikov, 30, one of the sport’s premier sluggers.
"I have to admit, runners are not my style. I said before it's just not my style. He just ran and touched me. He just jabbed and touched me. This is the worst style for me. I like guys who are in front of me and fighting me. I thought it was a close fight and the decision went to Chris Algieri. I have no complaints. I thought we won the fight but I could see Chris getting the win."
Granted, many onlookers thought Provodnikov “won the fight.”
Regardless, boxing is extremely subjective and it’s easy to understand how other spectators “could see Chris getting the win.”
Simply by “getting out of the first round,” Chris Algieri proved that he is a worthy adversary and a very deserving champion.