Ruslan Provodnikov and Christopher Martin both scored knockout wins on tonight's edition of ESPN Friday Night Fights, making for an entertaining show that still left questions for both.
Provodnikov (22-1, 15 KO) met zero resistance from a lousy opponent in Jose Reynoso (16-4-1, 3 KO), getting him out at 1:53 of the second round after a series of right hands staggered, wobbled, and ultimately floored the southpaw Mexican fighter. It was easy, easy work for Provodnikov, and his question is very simple: Is there really anything useful left for him at this level?
I'm not trying to dog Friday Night Fights, but boxing fans know what this show is. It is not a showcase of the sport's elite. It is, when everything works out, a stepping stone program for a fighter on his way to better things. And while Provodnikov, 28, may not really have the goods to advance much beyond this level, it would certainly be nice to see him try. He's done all he can do against opponents like this.
Provodnikov is an all-action fighter with no regard for defense or his own well-being, and everyone likes a guy like that. Personally, I think a Mike Alvarado or Brandon Rios type would make mincemeat of him, but then again, maybe not. His lone loss was a close decision against Mauricio Herrera, a smart fighter and a good boxer, but not a puncher. My gut feeling is that a puncher like Alvarado or Rios would be able to easily land too many hard, clean blows on him, and break him down.
But Provodnikov is a well-rounded offensive fighter himself, and has some thump. My main point is that it's time to see him at least give the next step a shot. There's nothing more to learn here. Nothing more to see.
In the eight-round co-feature, super bantamweight Christopher Martin stopped a three-fight winless streak with a sixth round body shot stoppage of Roberto Castaneda.
Martin (24-2-3, 7 KO) had frankly looked pretty lousy in recent fights, and given that Castaneda (20-2, 15 KO) hadn't really beaten anyone and was also stopped in January of this year, it's hard for me to say that Chris Martin is back in the mix at 122 pounds. This might have had a lot more to do with a raw, unimpressive opponent than anything else.
But Martin was pretty sharp in there, dropping Castaneda on a right to the body at the end of the fifth round. Castaneda made it to his feet and went back out for the sixth, and then was caught with a couple of hard lefts to the breadbasket, the latter of which put him back down and got the fight stopped, though he did again make it to his feet.
At worst, Martin is a good gatekeeper for the division. At best, he's made some adjustments and really might get himself in the race.