Chris Algieri got off the canvas twice in round one, his right eye became a swollen mess, and yet he pulled off the improbable tonight, beating Ruslan Provodnikov to win the WBO junior welterweight title at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn via split decision.
Two judges scored the fight 114-112 for Algieri, meaning they had it eight rounds to four for the challenger, while the third had it 117-109 for Provodnikov, a 9-3 score in rounds for the defending titleholder. BLH had it 114-112 for Algieri, while HBO's Steve Weisfeld had it 117-109 for Provodnikov.
In other words, there was no robbery here, and wouldn't have been either way, at least in my estimation. This was a compelling and even fascinating clash of styles, with Provodnikov physically able to overwhelm Algieri, at least when he could catch up to him. Algieri got out of the first round by the skin of his teeth, and from there he was able to box very nicely. It was an uphill battle all the way, and sort of a heroic effort, as he stayed out of Provodnikov's wheelhouse, no easy task given that Ruslan never stopped charging forward.
Algieri (20-0, 8 KO) was a +450 underdog going into this fight, but he and his team were confident they had the style to upset Provodnikov (23-3, 16 KO). In the end, they did, even though Ruslan was as advertised, a relentless, powerful banger -- and yet still a bit of a crude one stylistically, as he was simply outboxed and bedeviled by the jab of Algieri, who threw in volume, kept Ruslan off of him as much as possible, and ticked away round after round, gathering enough momentum to take the fight.
After the bout, Provodnikov told HBO's Max Kellerman, "I have to admit, runners are not my style. I like guys that stand there and fight with me. This is the worst style for me."
Provodnikov's definition of runner may be a bit askew, however, as it was Algieri who was the far more active and accurate puncher, landing 288 of 993 (29%) total punches, and 177 of 427 (41%) power shots. Provodnikov landed 205 of 776 (26%) punches, and 164 of 434 (38%) power shots.
With an eye that had began to swell from a single left hook that dropped him early in the first round, Algieri told Kellerman, "I could see pretty well until about round eight. Round 12, I was fuckin' blind." He also said that Provodnikov really only seriously hurt him on that left hook in round one, and that from there he was able to find his rhythm.
How did you score this fight tonight? There were a wide range of scores on Twitter from fans, media, fighters, trainers, promoters, and everyone else interested and watching, many for Algieri, many for Ruslan. What was your take?