NEW YORK -- Eight months removed from his victory over Mike Alvarado to capture a junior middleweight belt, all-action Ruslan Provodnikov is set to make his first title defense on Saturday.
Provodnikov (23-2, 16 KOs) will face Long Island native Chris Algieri (19-0, 8 KOs) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
"The Siberian Rocky" will look to apply his patented pressure against a slick, talented boxer in the taller Algieri. Provodnikov recently spoke with reporters during a media luncheon in Manhattan to talk about the fight:
In what ways has your life changed in the last year?
Obviously I get noticed more and there is more fame and all that, but to me that's not important. What's important to me is the ability to help all of my people and all people around the world needing a lot more. I'm invited to a lot more different meetings and congresses for kids and athletes. Giving back and helping my community because of my reputation and what I achieved, I am able to do certain things to help the people that I've grown up with and take care of my people and my country. The governor of my region after the fight with Mike Alvarado gave me a present where they are going to build an entire sports complex in the city where I grew up named after me. All the kids and everybody is going to be able to use it and to me that's what is important. That's something that makes me proud and makes me say that I didn't waste my life for nothing. I got something and have been able to give back.
Have you bought something nice for yourself with the money you have made?
No, I didn't actually. I don't like to spend my money on frivolous things and I haven't. My family is secure and our life has improved since I have become a champion. I have a lot of responsibilities, even after the [Alvarado] fight. I got invited to many events and I did a tournament in my home city, which I have done every year. I have done a lot of things for the community and I feel sometimes like I don't have time for anything. After this fight maybe, hopefully, I can enjoy some time for myself.
There was a lot of talk about a fight with Juan Manuel Marquez. Is that a fight you still yearn for?
Yes, to be honest with you that is one of the fights I really wanted and I thought it would be a great fight if we were in the ring together with Juan Manuel Marquez. But the fight didn't happen and it was actually one of the reasons why I had a long break in between fights because I was kind of waiting for a bigger fight. Right now I am very focused on June 14 and it is a big fight for me. I have to get through that and anything can happen. It will be interesting how it plays out.
One fight that is brought up often is one with you and Manny Pacquiao, although you share the same trainer. Where does that stand considering the two of you are friends?
Anything can happen and anything is a possibility. Right now, honestly, I'm not thinking about that at all. We are a week away from June 14 and that is what I am focused on.
How did you first hook up with trainer Freddie Roach?
I came to the Wild Card gym many times and trained and sparred there many times. Freddie said that he looked at me before and he saw and noticed me before. And then at some point Freddie noticed me and invited me to spar with Manny. That's how it all started. He took a closer look at me sparring with Manny and how I did and we started working together. But most of all I think it's luck. I think a lot of what happened is being very lucky.
How has that relationship with Roach changed your career?
He is part of the team and part of the reason that my life has changed. He's part of the reason that you are talking to me and I am sitting here as a world champion because I believe in faith and I believe that every person that you meet, he has a big part in what you are able to achieve. So I think Freddie definitely has a big part in what I achieved and if it wasn't for him that probably wouldn't have happened. So to me everything is faith related and he was meant to be part of my life and everything happens for a reason.
You've built a reputation as a guy who will endure more than other fighters because of your warrior spirit. How much have you used that as intimidation in the ring?
I don't try to intimidate or scare anyone. It's not my objective. I'm actually very nice to my opponents. But it's part of the way I win these fights. It's part of my character and my will power and the fact that I don't want to give up or take a step back. That's the reason that I'm a world champion today. That's the reason I achieved what I have achieved. A lot of these fighters, they think they can just box me but mostly it doesn't work because they break down before the second part of the fight. It's not part of my plan, it's just who I am. I fight because of what is on the inside.
You enjoyed an emotional moment in the ring with your mother after beating Alvarado in Denver. Why did she come to the last fight?
It wasn't because it was a title fight. Some people from my hometown were going and she wanted to go. I told her I did not want her to be there. I don't like that and I don't think that's the right thing to do. But she decided that she had to be there and she wanted to go and I didn't want to make a conflict during my training camp and all of that, so I just let it happen. But usually I don't like that.
You were calling for her in the ring afterwards. Did you just want to share that moment with her?
Exactly, I wanted to share the moment. I wanted her to be there right next to me.
Why did you not want her there at the fight?
It's just easier for me. It's a lot easier for me to be in the ring alone and because when there are relatives and close people like my mother there, no matter how much I try not to I worry about them as well. I not only worry about what I have to do, I worry about them seeing what is happening in the ring and I don't like that. I don't think it's the right thing. I don't want to have to worry about that, especially considering the way I fight. I'm willing to give everything away in the fight. With that thought in mind, I really don't want my parents or my family there to worry about what they are seeing.
Have you had time to work on your English much?
It has been very tough. I am more and more busy and travel a lot so it has been hard to get in the groove of doing that consistently. But I would love to do that and learn a little bit. I like poems a lot and there's a famous writer whose name is [Sergei] Yesenin and I read his poems when I am walking to the ring and stuff. I'm a big fan of that. And one of his poems he says that, "If you guys want to talk to me, learn Russian." To me I kind of associate with that.
What is your motivation entering the Algieri fight?
My job on June 14 is to chase Algieri and hunt him down. This is a very important fight to me because it will show how many fans I can attract. Brooklyn feels like a second home. I hope Barclays Center can become my home arena in the same manner Miguel Cotto has at Madison Square Garden. ... To [defeat me] he's going to not only have to win this fight, he's going to have to do something different. He can take my belt, but I can give it to him anyway, it doesn't mean anything to me. The belt doesn't bring you money or fame. There are a lot of world champions and they are not getting any of that. My achievements are what's important to me and I doubt he's going to be able to take that from me. He can beat me, he can win the fight, but I doubt he's going to be able to take the respect of my fans over to himself. To do that, he's going to have to fight like I fight. He doesn't fight like that, so I really doubt he's going to be able to do that.