By Fox Doucette
Russian prospect Ruslan Provodnikov (21-1, 14 KOs) continued his climb through the ranks on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights, winning a minor WBO trinket at junior welterweight in a 6th round KO of severely overmatched local journeyman David Torres (21-3-2, 13 KOs), who has only one win in his last six fights. In the co-feature, Ji-Hoon Kim (23-7, 18 KOs) surprisingly required all ten rounds to take a decision over Ghana’s Yakubu Amidu (20-3-1, 18 KOs).
The main event was a cat and mouse game. Provodnikov, who was cut in his last fight less than two months ago against DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley and clearly was not in his best shape, carried his much weaker opponent throughout the fight. Provodnikov dropped Torres in the first round and could easily have forced the stoppage, since referee Bobby Howard was looking in on Torres in exactly the sort of way one expects a referee to look in when he is deciding whether to end a slaughter. Provodnikov backed off the gas, apparently looking to go rounds in his first fight with new trainer Freddie Roach.
For rounds two through five, it was hardly a no-action fight; Provodnikov was throwing punches and Torres was throwing back. Had Torres simply pulled a Narvaez/Adjaho/Alfonso Lopez sort of survival act, Provodnikov did not seem interested in expending excess energy and indeed Torres could have gone the distance. Torres caught Provodnikov’s attention in the fourth round, which seemed to wake the Russian up, and a similar flurry in the sixth from the underdog brought to mind the maxim “shooting a bear with a varmint rifle will only make it angry.” Torres found himself acquainted with the canvas first from a thudding right hand and then from a flurry of punches with ten seconds to go in the round; the official time was 2:53 of the round when referee Howard stepped in, waved the fight off, and summoned medical attention.
For Ruslan Provodnikov this fight doesn’t really prove anything one way or the other; circumstances involving a television date and a slot in the WBO pecking order against an overmatched opponent seemed more important than giving a telling effort or making a statement. It could have ended in one; it turned into a glorified sparring session for six. What matters is that Provodnikov got his win, and we should probably not expect to see him fight again for a few months, possibly until this summer.
The co-feature was a cracker, full of great action and just a notch or two below Fight of the Year candidate status; on ESPN’s social media platforms there was some brief buzz to that effect before the fight settled down a bit after the fourth round. Lightweight fringe contender Ji-Hoon Kim showed all of his strengths and all of his weaknesses, and so did Yakubu Amidu; this was a fight that never looked, even in the late rounds, like it was going to go the full ten.
Early on, Amidu carried the action, counter-punching well, walking Kim into shots, finding the right range, and controlling the pace of the fight. Late, Kim’s strength was just too much for the African, as the Korean was able to bull rush Amidu, keep him on the back foot, and tee off with a barrage of punches. When the fight went to the scorecards, the judges gave a reasonable spread of scores, since the first and eighth rounds were probably toss-ups but the other eight rounds were very easy to score. Scores of 96-94, 97-93, and 98-92 all went for Ji-Hoon Kim, while Teddy Atlas had it 98-92 and The Boxing Tribune had it 97-93, also for the Korean.
The first swing fight of the year on FNF was a complete farce; 20-year-old cruiserweight novice Garret Simon (6-0-1, 5 KOs) got a chance to show his chops on national TV against who-are-you-trying-to-fool tomato can Marcus Dickerson (4-4-2, 2 KOs), who suffered his fourth career first-round knockout loss. Simon never hit Dickerson with a clean shot; a glancing blow sent Dickerson to the canvas and as Joe Tessitore put it, Dickerson “got up at about 10.2.” Teddy Atlas got the joke of the night saying, “if I were that referee, I’d drag the count out a little, go 6, 7, 8, 9………hey, you made it!…and let the fight continue.” Fifty-five seconds of rolling over like an obedient dog means no commission should ever let Marcus Dickerson fight again, and the Washington commission should seriously consider withholding Dickerson’s purse for his clear lack of willingness to do the job for which he signed up. Whatever they paid him, it’s a helluva nice hourly rate considering he was only in there for less than a minute.
Next week, Edison Miranda (35-6, 30 KOs) takes on Isaac Chilemba (18-1-1, 9 KOs) in a light heavyweight clash that looks on paper to be an excellent action fight; Chilemba replaces Yordanis Despaigne, depriving Miranda of a chance at revenge but probably sparing Despaigne’s health in the process. The co-feature involves Cuban prospect Rances Barthelemy (14-0, 11 KOs) taking on very light-punching Hylon Williams Jr. (15-0, 3 KOs) in a lightweight who’s-the-prospect battle. The Boxing Tribune will have a full preview to get you ready for that televised action followed by a recap on fight night. Stay tuned—we’re your authority on Your Boxing Authority.
Fox Doucette covers Friday Night Fights for The Boxing Tribune. His weekly column, The Southpaw, appears on Thursdays. Fan mail, hate mail, and a nice chunk of change for 55 seconds’ work can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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