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It's hard not to view this as a stay-busy fight for Ruslan Provodnikov. He tried to call out Juan Manuel Marquez earlier this year, but the Mexican legend seemed to want no part of him and fought Mike Alvarado instead.
Chris Algieri was a ranked contender who was available. He's not without talent, and Provodnikov needs to come prepared to fight. But a fighter who grew up in Siberia is unlikely to take anything for granted.
His ability to cut off the ring and force the fight at his range was clearly improved during his 2013 campaign. Wild Card is a gym that excels at training a fighter to maximize his physical advantages stylistically. Provodnikov will always be a rugged, pressure fighter, but under Freddie Roach he is developing into a more intelligent pressure fighter.
Algieri has great length and good movement, but I don't think he has the pop to discourage Provodnikov's advance. The defensive holes he showed against Emmanuel Taylor will get him brutalized against Provodnikov.
Expect him to hurt Algieri early and break him down headed into the middle rounds. I'm picking the Siberian Rocky by Round 7 TKO.
There should be a bigger-name opponent available for Provodnikov in his next fight. The dream matchup is Danny Garcia, so fans can see for sure who is the true champion at 140 pounds. But given the promotional friction that exists between Golden Boy and Top Rank, it's almost certainly not going to happen.
Instead, look for Provodnikov to face Brandon Rios sometime in the fall. It will be a thriller for as long as it lasts.