Lucas Matthysse's win last night over Ruslan Provodnikov wasn't quite as expected, with the fight going the distance against the odds, and the two junior welterweight sluggers fighting their way through 36 minutes of power punching action. But the big win for Matthysse (37-3, 34 KO) was definitely hard-earned, as he threw everything he could at Provodnikov (24-4, 17 KO) but couldn't get the tough Siberian out.
Maybe Matthysse-Provodnikov didn't live up to the hype. Maybe it couldn't have. But when you take a moment away from the hype, I think it's clear we did see a pretty great fight. Not something unbeatable for Fight of the Year, maybe not an all-time classic, but the savage brutality on display was certainly something to behold, particularly from Provodnikov, who took some immense shots from Matthysse and not only didn't get knocked out, not only didn't get knocked down, but didn't appear to ever be significantly hurt in the fight, apart from the fact that by the middle rounds, his face looked like raw ground beef.
It's a testament to Provodnikov's toughness and chin that not only did he survive Matthysse's assault, but he fired back plenty, too, and had Matthysse a little buzzed on a couple of occasions. Matthysse wound up having more tools to work with, which was the real difference, and when he needed to, he boxed nicely, and looked very sharp overall.
It's hard to say a fight this good and this violent was in any way a letdown. Matthysse's punches would've knocked out a lot of good fighters early in this one. And Provodnikov's relentless, stubborn pressure would have eventually broken a lot of good fighters, too.