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Provodnikov drops Freddie Roach, hires Joel Diaz

Ruslan Provodnikov fires Freddie Roach and brings on Joel Diaz in a surprising turn of events.

Alex Menendez/Getty Images

My oh my, how quickly things can change. Joel Diaz has recently made headlines due to his unexpected firing from welterweight champion Timothy Bradley after 10 successful years together. And now, just a few short weeks later, he's found himself a new client in Ruslan Provodnikov, who decided to split with famed trainer Freddie Roach.

"Things fall into place when you least expect it in this business," Diaz told on Tuesday.

Just a couple of short years ago, Provodnikov and Diaz were in opposite corners when an all out war broke out between Provodinkov and Bradley. After that gruesome battle, Diaz says he sparked a friendly conversation with Vadim Kornilov, which has now payed dividends in a most unexpected way.

"I always come with respect, and I approached Vadim after the fight with Tim Bradley and told him, ‘Hell of a fight' and that I was a big fan of Ruslan's," Diaz said. "Since that moment, we've always run into each other at different fights and been friendly. I would always ask him how Ruslan is doing."

When talks about a potential fight between Manny Pacquiao and Ruslan Provodnikov were going on, Kornilov started looking at other possible trainers since Pacquiao is obviously also trained by Roach -- and there was no way Roach was going to leave Pac-Man for Provo.

That fight never materialized, so it basically became a moot point. But then, unexpectedly, Diaz received a text message from Kornilov asking whether he'd be interested in training Provodnikov. Diaz responded that although he was interested, he had other fighters in his stable and wouldn't just abandon them. Kornilov and Provodnikov seemed to be fine with that and Diaz has been training Provodnikov for the past two weeks. Provodnikov expects to have a fight before the year is out, and even with no date nor opponent at this time, Diaz insists he'll have him prepared.

So the biggest question here is, "why would Provodnikov decide to leave HOF trainer Freddie Roach?" Well, the answer was pretty simple, and quite obvious if you've ever seen a Provodnikov fight -- he just takes too many shots in the ring. Provodnikov and his team knew that he needed to make some changes to improve his defense, and while Roach is a great trainer, teaching defense has never been his strong suit.

"Ruslan is a very strong fighter, a lot of heart, a lot of pressure, but he needs to work a little more on defense because he gets hit a lot," Diaz said. "My point is not to change him but to improve him on defense, teach him how to cut off the ring a little more. I also want to teach him that Mexican style -- go to the body. He's a head hunter. I want to teach him to work the body from the beginning of a fight and work his way up [to the head]."

Kornilov says once it became abundantly clear that Provodnikov couldn't continue taking the kind of punishment he has in recent fights, if he's to have any significant future in the sport, hiring someone who could impart better defensive skills to Ruslan was the highest priority. Diaz was someone they believed could help in this aspect, and Kornilov says he's already seeing the improvements.

I guess the rest of us will have to wait and see what improvements Diaz has made in Ruslan's game in his next outing.

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