I admit to being a solid Chris Algieri fan, but to this day I still stick by my initial impression that Ruslan Provodnikov beat the man when they met a few years ago. The judges of that fight clearly disagreed, however, and it's been pretty much downhill from there for the man known as the Siberian Rocky.
Until, perhaps, now.
Having teamed up with the esteemed Joel Diaz - who used to train rival Tim Bradley - Provodnikov may benefit from having a fresh pair of eyes. The first true test will, of course, come next week when the Russian faces John Molina in a televised bout. This is a gritty, fan friendly sort of affair, but if Provodnikov wants to be more than a gritty, fan friendly fighter who struggles for diminishing paydays, he's going to have to look good here.
Should Molina win next weekend, it will be hard to see where Provodnikov will go from there. The loss he took last year after an all out war with Lucas Matthysse diminished his appearance as a high end fighter (as did his less than stellar performance against Algieri). There are serious junior welters out there like Crawford and Postol, after all. People will only pay serious attention for so long.
With that in mind, a Provodnikov who is at the top of his game will not only thrill fans, he will impress critics if he shows the teaming with Diaz is particularly beneficial. Everyone knows Provodnikov is exciting. Now let's see if he can be more than that.