The Hottest Boxing Storylines to Watch in Week of October 21
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You'll have to be understanding if the words are a little difficult to come by after the past weekend we just witnessed in boxing.
Boxing is rare among sports in that it has the potential to be equal parts beautiful and brutal. We saw every bit of both this past Saturday night in Denver, Colo., as two warriors put on a brutal and compelling show.
Here we'll break down what that fight means for both fighters and look ahead to next weekend's—certain to be less brutal but just as compelling—action from Atlantic City.
These are the hottest storylines in boxing for the week of October 21.
How Dangerous Is the Siberian Rocky?
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All you can say about Ruslan Provodnikov after this weekend is—wow!
The "Siberian Rocky" told Bleacher Report on Monday that Mike Alvarado wouldn't be able to box him the way that Timothy Bradley had and that we'd see even more of the type of exchanges that nearly separated the welterweight champion's head from his shoulders.
Check and check.
Provodnikov has a baby-faced killer look to him in the ring, and he did something on Saturday night that nobody before him had been able to do. He took a fighter who had been through some hellacious wars, and he made him not want to fight anymore.
The Russian's constant pressure and his willingness to walk through fire in order to land his own shots were the difference in the fight. From the early going, Provodnikov committed himself to a ferocious body assault, and like money in the bank, those punches paid off later on.
By the middle rounds, Alvarado was like wounded prey, and he was no longer able to keep the Russian off of him with his jab and boxing ability. You could see the swarm coming, and "Mile High" Mike was powerless to stop it. He had to fight his way out.
It all culminated in that brutal eighth round, when Provodnikov—reaping the rewards of his sustained body attack—floored Alvarado twice and took over the fight.
When referee Tony Weekes finally stepped in between the 10th and 11th rounds and called a halt to the action, there was a sense of disappointed relief in the arena. You got the very real sense that Alvarado was broken down by the constant physical and mental pressure.
Provodnikov—with his eye bleeding and his faced bruised—on the other hand, looked like he could've kept going all night. He's one scary dude.
Is Freddie Roach Making a Comeback?
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After a dreadful 2012, many boxing observers and fans were willing to buy into the logic that Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach had lost it.
And you'd be hard-pressed to look at his 2012 resume without thinking something was up.
In July, Amir Khan was stopped—again—in a fight he was supposed to win and subsequently fired Roach in favor of Virgil Hunter.
In September, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. treated his training camp as an optional exercise and was embarrassed by Sergio Martinez for 11.5 rounds.
And it all culminated with Manny Pacquiao getting spectacularly knocked out by longtime rival Juan Manuel Marquez in December.
In the past month, though, Roach has seen lots of good things happen for his fighters.
He was hired to run the corner—and regenerate the career really—of Miguel Cotto, and based on Cotto's performance against Delvin Rodriguez earlier this month, mission accomplished.
Cotto looked like the fighter of old as he mixed vicious body shots with hooks upstairs like a hunter stalking his prey. He look as good as we've seen him in years, and Roach deserves a lot of credit for helping bring that out of him.
Then this past Saturday, another Roach protege—Ruslan Provodnikov—captured a junior welterweight title with a devastating knockout of Mike Alvarado.
The ultimate test will come in November, when Freddie's main charge, Manny Pacquiao, returns in China against Brandon Rios. But you can't argue with these results thus far.
Can the Alien Once Again Defy the Odds?
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It's almost pointless to continue asking whether or not Bernard Hopkins will once again be able to turn back the clock.
At this point, he's broken the clock.
Hopkins is a freak of nature. He's already become the oldest man to ever win a world championship—something he's done twice—and he'll be closer to 49 than 48 when he steps into the ring on Saturday night in Boardwalk Hall to face the unheralded Karo Murat.
This fight should be little more than a way station for Hopkins as he seeks to punctuate his career with more meaningful fights next year. He's reportedly targeting some big names, which include recognized light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson, super middleweight champion Andre Ward and even pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather.
All of those fights are significant, and one cannot help but be intrigued by the possibility of a middleweight clash against Mayweather. It'll likely never happen, but Hopkins has insisted that he would be willing to come back down to 160 pounds in order to make it a reality.
That might not make boxing fans salivate at the possibility, but you have to admit, part of you is curious.
Is Peter Quillin a Contender or a Pretender?
"Kid Chocolate" Peter Quillin is one of the most exciting fighters in the business. He loves to fight, and he's willing to throw caution to the wind and just go for it in order to entertain his fans.
He's become something of a star attraction at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn during the last year, decisioning Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam to win the WBO Middleweight Championship last October and knocking out Fernando Guerrero to defend it in April.
And while Kid Chocolate has some solid wins on his resume—including N'Dam, Guerrero and the faded Winky Wright—we don't really know yet whether he's a contender or a pretender in a suddenly loaded middleweight division.
At the top sits division kingpin Sergio Martinez. The Argentine didn't look spectacular in his last fight, but he commands enough respect to retain the top slot until someone takes it from him.
Just below him sits the man whom many consider, at worst, the top dog in waiting, Kazakh wrecking ball Gennady Golovkin.
And then there's a whole lot of guys clumped in that next tier.
Quillin is one of them, along with newly crowned WBA champion Darren Barker, former champions Daniel Geale and Felix Sturm, and contenders such as Martin Murray.
The 30-year-old Chicagoan, by way of Cuba, will be looking to separate himself from the pack when he faces the rugged Gabriel Rosado on Saturday night.
Rosado has all kinds of heart, but he's not a true middleweight, and Quillin will need to do more if he hopes to truly establish himself.
Can We Get More Legendary Nights Like Gatti-Ward?
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It was no accident that HBO aired Alvarado vs. Provodnikov on the same night it premiered Legendary Nights: The Tale of Gatti-Ward. While Provodnikov and Alvarado didn't put on a show that matched the spirit of boxing's most iconic trilogy, they were chosen because of their warrior mentalities and willingness to leave it all in the ring.
But nobody was able to do that better than Arturo "Thunder" Gatti and "Irish" Micky Ward. The two warriors engaged in a brutal three-fight series over the course of 2002 and 2003, and it forever changed both of their lives.
HBO's documentary did the lives—and careers—of both men justice. It placed a special emphasis on the deep respect and friendship that was forged in the fires of their in-ring wars.
Unfortunately, Arturo Gatti was taken well before his time, and the circumstances of his death remain in question to this day. It was officially ruled a suicide by Brazilian authorities, but those findings have been heavily questioned by those close to Gatti and the Canadian government.
Gatti was posthumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame last summer, and he was represented there by his longtime friend Ward. It was a sobering reminder that while boxing is often brutal, the bonds forged in the ring can last a lifetime.
It was a truly tearjerking moment, watching Arturo Gatti's young daughter thank the crowd in attendance for honoring her dad. Even those with hearts of steel couldn't help but be shaken by little Sofia Gatti reading her father's Hall of Fame plaque while grinning ear to ear.
Hopefully HBO will do more documentaries like this one. They show the human side of boxing, and they remind us why we love the sport.