By: Marc Livitz: ESPN’s "Friday Night Fights" provided the backdrop to showcase the talents as well as potential of Russian light welterweight Ruslan Provodnikov. An uptempo fight crowd at the Northern Quest Resort and Casino in Airway Heights, Washington, near the city of Spokane was treated to a good night of boxing.
Provodnikov (21(13)-1, 140 lbs), a "Friday Night Fights" veteran came into the contest with a third trainer, the great Freddie Roach (although Roach did not work his corner and was not in attendance). His opponent, David Torres (21(13)-2(2)-2, 137 lbs.) of Othello, WA started his career in fine fashion with a record of 20-0, but had only posted a mark of one win, two knockout losses and two draws thereafter.
Provodnikov stalked Torres from the opening bell. The Russian caught Torres with a quick left followed by an overhand right to score the first knockdown of the fight inside of ninety seconds. The Washington fighter beat the count, but at first did not appear as if he would make it out of the first round. Torres continued to fight back, but he appeared to simply be too small to be in the ring with Provodnikov. Most of the fight from this point on appeared to be a sparring session for the Beryzovo, Russia native, who seemed to be content with getting in some rounds of practice. Any time Torres tried to contest with Provodnikov, he would get caught with hard rights and uppercuts. The Russian continued to land straight jabs and hard, effective combinations throughout the fight. By round 5, Torres had become familiar with the corners of the ring, as Provodnikov continued a steady attack and eventually opened up a small cut under his right eye.
David Torres did little to fight back as the round ended. However, he began the sixth round with a flurry of blows that brought the crowd to life, although he had lost much of any power in his punches that he may have had. After the action momentarily went to the center of the ring, Provodnikov forced Torres into a corner. He then landed a quick left followed by an overhand right. David Torres was dropped for the second time in the contest at the 50 second mark. Once again, he beat the count and tried to fight back. Provodnikov decided six rounds was enough work for the evening. He caught Torres with yet another hard right and sent him up against the ropes. A fast combination which ended with a left hook brought the night to an end for Torres at the 2:53 point, when referee Bobby Howard stopped the bout as Torres lay flat on his back. Ruslan Provodnikov wins by TKO.
Ji-Hoon "Volcano" Kim and Yakubu "Black Mamba" Amidu treated the fans at the Northern Quest Casino to a classic back and forth slugfest in the lightweight division. Kim (23(18)-7(2) of Goyan City, South Korea once again showed why he has become a bit of a fan favorite with his "caution to the wind", offense first and face forward style. Likewise, his opponent from Los Angeles (by way of Accra, Ghana) took much of the same approach. Amidu’s record was (17(15)-3(1)-1). Ji-Hoon Kim (134 1/2 lbs.) held a one inch height advantage, however he used his exceptional reach to stay in relative command. The South Korean fighter seemed to know that he needed to give an impressive performance considering he had lost 2 of his last 3 bouts and the former IBO Junior Lightweight titleholder did not disappoint. Yakubu Amidu by all means proved to be a game challenger.
The opening round saw the two fighters throw more than 150 total punches between them. Amidu tried to establish a jab and Kim jabbed even less. As in most of the contest, the South Korean was less concerned with establishing any certain tone and stuck mostly to power shots. Although Amidu (132 lbs.) initially tried to time the oncoming Kim, he soon found the strategy to be useless. This would be an entertaining evening of constant action. Each fighter heavily flurried to end the round. On occasion throughout the next few rounds, Ji-Hoon Kim would manage to break the guard of the Ghanaian with straight rights and uppercuts. The pattern which continued throughout the fight was one which almost always ended up in the center of the ring. Amidu was able to force Kim into a corner with about 50 seconds to go in the second round, but Kim fought his way out and the two pugilists were back in the middle of the squared circle once again. The recurring mistake made by Amidu was that whenever he caught Kim with a quick, snapping jab, he would back out in a straight line. This opened him to the powerful shots of Kim. Neither boxer cared much to position their fighting stances in any other fashion than front and square.
Rounds 3, 4 & 5 all followed suit. Trading hard, powerful shots, little technique, yet they were giving those in attendance a very pleasing fight. A headbutt from Amidu briefly halted the action in round 6. For much of the fight afterwards, Ji-Hoon Kim would use his elbows to guard himself as well as fend off Yakubu Amidu. An exciting flurry capped off the round. By round 7, each fighter was clearly tiring. Although their respective shots held less power, Kim and Amidu did not drop their overall punch output. Before the period ended, a noticeable cut opened up over the left eye of Amidu. The blood began to stream in the eighth. Kim was in clear control and he began to box instead of brawl. Amidu tried to switch tactics as well and go to the body of the Korean.
The final two rounds saw Ji-Hoon Kim initiate the majority of the action and exchanges. The trading of shots in the center of the ring continued and Kim did not allow Amidu any space to mount a comeback.
The judges scored the bout 96-94, 98-92 and 97-93. Ji-Hoon Kim wins by unanimous decision