Freddie Roach: I think everybody in the world is if you work on it hard enough. So, we’ll see.
Vadim, you had given me perspective on Ruslan’s popularity in Russia compared to some of the other fighters. Can you address his popularity? And, from what I understand, he the most popular of fighters from Russia?
Vadim Kornilov: Well, in Russia I think right now is between Kovalev and Ruslan. But there’s been a lot of different polls and ratings and stuff like that that have shown Ruslan coming ahead. I think they’re about at the same level. Ruslan passed the bigger fights and fought some bigger opponents. I think because of that, Ruslan has taken off a little bit more.
What do you think is his appeal? He really seems to come off, especially the night that he won the title, you know, you watched HBO’s “Two Days With”--before the Alvarado fight -- and he brought his mother. And he was really emotional. He mentioned fighting for the people.
Vadim Kornilov: He’s very grounded. He’s not spoiled or jaded. And I think people can really relate to that.
Can you elaborate on that?
Vadim Kornilov: It’s the type of person that he is and the way he is with people and the fans, and the way he fights. I think people can really relate to that and just by watching the way he is in the ring. I think that basically goes to people’s love for him. Ruslan is fan-friendly inside and outside the ring.
Arthur Pelullo: I think he has the right nickname, the Siberian Rocky because everybody can relate to the underdog. And everybody can relate to a guy fighting his way out of less than ideal conditions -- whether it’s poverty or a low income environment -- to reach a better level financially in their life. A better life in general. When he fought Bradley he was considered just the opponent and it was a payday. And what he did was he rose to the occasion. People like that. People can identify with somebody who’s a working class person. There were a lot of great fighters in history that were like considered working class guys and everybody wanted to be a part of their bandwagons. And they attracted fans because they were the people’s guy. And Ruslan’s a people’s champion. He’s a tough guy. And he’s straight. He tells you the way it is. After he reviewed the tape he said listen, I could see how people thought Bradley won the fight. People like that. It’s like when he -- if he lost a fight, he lost the fight. If he won the fight, he won the fight. That’s what people want to hear. People like straight stuff, straight talking. And the Russian citizens, they’re right up there. They want the truth. They don’t want a lot of good bologna. And I think they appreciate that he’s a straight forward guy. And he’s has a lot of Mexican fans and American fans because on top of all of that he’s the most TV and fan-friendly fighter right now in America. That’s my opinion.
Ruslan, please explain where you’re from, what you overcame and also what you feel personally – what you try to bring across in appealing to your audience?
Ruslan Provodnikov: I came from a small village in Russian called Beryozovo. I had a very hard upbringing. Hard work. The reason, you know, for the fans I think that’s a good question for the fans. I don’t know why. I’m doing a lot of … that’s a good question for the fans to ask why they like me.
Why do you fight the way you do and when you say things like the belts aren’t important, the money isn’t important, it’s the way I fight and what people think of the way I fight. Do you think that is an aspect of your fighting style and your personality that goes to your fans?
Ruslan Provodnikov: Everything I said is because the way I fight comes from inside of me. It’s my character. And I’m probably never going to fight differently. And people love me probably because of that, and of who I am. I am who I am in the ring and I just put everything in the ring. It’s who I am.
Chris, you talked about two of the guys on your resume who you feel are most similar to Ruslan. You talk about which fights in particular where you feel like he’s had problems, talked about his jab. The jab that seems to bother him. Can you talk about the fight that you feel like he’s had the most problems in?
Chris Algieri: I mean the Tim Bradley fight, even Alvarado when he boxed a little bit. I’m not big on watching tape or watching my opponents. I’ve seen Ruslan’s fights because I watched them live. Like I said, I was a fan while Ruslan has been fighting. And my coaches have done the studying and have watched other fights and told me what the strategy is
Okay, anything from watching his against Herrera?
Chris Algieri: No, I hadn’t seen that whole fight to tell you the truth. You know, my coaches did and they’ve said that they saw certain things and certain aspects that we want to capitalize on. And we’ve been working on those things. But, like I said, I don’t really watch too much tape. I’m a fight fan. I don’t study my opponents all that much in terms of their past performances because boxing is all about rhythm and really you can’t watch a guy’s rhythm from watching a fight. Everyone’s different on fight night.
Freddie, you talked about not wanting Ruslan to fight Manny Pacquiao. If he keeps winning and if Pacquiao beats Marquez or whichever fight is next, don’t you think the demand will increase for him to fight Pacquiao. And if it does will you then relent and allow the fight to happen?
Freddie Roach: I have both fighters and I would hate to lose one of them, one of the fighters. But, the thing is if the demand does come again, we’re going to have to let it happen and it’d be a sad day for me. But the thing is, I probably sit both fights out and just watch it on TV myself.
You wouldn’t be at either corner? You’ve said in the past Manny’s your number one guy.
Freddie Roach: Manny is my number one guy and so forth. But, Ruslan’s very close to me. And Ruslan’s been a very hard worker. But, the demand is getting closer and closer, so with the win here it could happen. And Manny is running out of opponents right now, and that’s the way it goes.
But you would watch the fight on TV?
Arthur Pelullo: We’ll give him a ticket. Freddie, you got a ticket. Don’t worry about it. See, you got a ringside seat for the fight. Freddie, no problem.
If everything goes according to plan and according to your expectation, how will this fight go and will it end in a knockout in approximately what round?
Freddie Roach: We have a tough opponent in front of us and he has been knocked out before in kickboxing matches. So, we will put pressure on him and we will do the best we can to get him out of there. And I think every fight should end in a knockout and I look. We don’t go looking for a knockout. We’re going to go out there and win every round one at a time. It won’t be easy up to that point that’s for sure.
Hey, Chris, like you I have a BA from the Harvard of Long Island Stoney Brook. And I’m curious, as you make a decision to go from possible pre-med into a sport that so many people would see as counter to healing, towards health et cetera.
Chris Algieri: The way I look at it is boxing is definitely a hurt business, but at the end of the day it is still a sport. And there are certain requirements, you know, required of each fighter medically to make sure that we’re all fit to fight. And I feel that the way that I prepare for fights and the way that my style is that I take as little damage as possible. Of course, there’s a tremendous risk involved, but my plan is to minimize that risk the best I can by being as prepared as possible and fighting the way that I do. But, in terms of just my future plans and where I come from, you know, it doesn’t really determine. Boxing is my passion. This is what I’m doing now and I can still do it. I can still perform it at this high level. And I’m honored and blessed to be able to do that. But, there’s life after boxing. And there’s always time to go to school. There’s always time for me to pursue what my future career goals are. And this is what I’m doing now because I can and I love it.
Do you feel based on your academic background and your diverse athletic background that you have an intelligence edge when you’re in the ring?
Chris Algieri: I would say so. I mean, I fight in a way that I use my intelligence when I fight in a way that definitely IQ can help. But, you know, it is about the boxing IQ when it comes to just stepping inside the ring. Being good at calculus is not going to help me in a fight. But, being able to analyze certain situations, especially in a mind-body sense, like you said, because of my athletic background definitely has helped my progression in the sport. I think I’ve learned at a fast rate because of my past experiences and because I am a student of the game.
So, truth be told, when you’re in schools like the schools that you’re in and you’re getting that kind of education and then you tell the people around you that you’re going to box professionally, how many stares did you get? How many wooly eyes did you get?
Chris Algieri: Countless. You know, I was a lab technician for years at our culture and Harvard Laboratory and initially no one really believed me that that’s really what I wanted to do was to be a fighter and that I was fighting. And then more and more people were seeing what I was doing and they were coming to fights and they were watching me fight. And I think I turned a lot of those people around. I had a lot of people in the science community trying to talk me out of fighting, but I really don’t get that much anymore. I think that people are a lot more on board because of where we’ve gone and are excited to see how far I can take it.
Chris, we’ve seen the two more rounds documentary and we saw what Ruslan did to Mike Alvarado, a true warrior, one of the best action fighters of this era. How are you prepared to deal with the mental aspect of the fight? You’ve got a man across from you, who’s willing to take your soul, so to speak, and is going to try to break you down and make you quit. But, despite the athletic nature of the fight, how do you plan on dealing with the mental aspect of the game and how do you overcome any fear you may have?
Chris Algieri: Well, I think that one of my best aspects, as a fighter, is my mental strength and my mental advantage. I am fully committed and I sacrificed quite a bit for this fight and this career of mine. And, like I said, this is a passion. And my mental focus definitely has helped me throughout my entire career and I think it’s going to continue to pay dividends in this fight.
Do you have any fear? Do you have any fear fighting Ruslan Provodnikov?
Chris Algieri: I mean I believe that there’s fear involved in any fight. But, when it’s fight night and the preparations are over, I feel nothing but confident. I’m looking forward to June 14. Everything is going the way that I had hoped and dreamed. And I’m actually really looking forward to this fight. Now, it’s an opportunity for me to showcase my skills and to be in with one of the top guys in the game. So, it’s just a great opportunity all around. I don’t concentrate too much on the fear. I’m just getting as prepared as possible.
Chris, you’ve fought so many fights of your professional career in Long Island in front of hometown crowds. And I think my understanding when this fight was made that one of the reasons, among others, that you got the fight was because it was going be in New York and most likely you would bring a crowd with you, which would perk up the attendance at the arena that you’re having this fight at. My question for you is how big of a deal is it and how much does it mean to you to be in your first world title fight and be doing it in front of your hometown people?
Chris Algieri: It’s crazy, but this is what I envisioned in my mind for my first world title fight. I had envisioned it being in Madison Square Garden, of course, because there was no Barclays Center 10 years ago when I was thinking about this. But, it’s amazing to be fighting in the Barclays Center. It’s such an incredible arena. It means a tremendous amount to me to be fighting for a world title, my first world title fight, in my home state. So, it makes it that much bigger and that much more of a grand event.
And the other thing I wanted to ask you about is style of the fight. We know, and that Ruslan has talked about in his call, he’s about pressure and coming forward and going to you the way he did against Bradley, the way he took care of Alvarado. You are more of a boxer. I mean your knockouts are not the way his are. Is this basically comes down to, if I’m wrong here, you’ve got to outbox him to win this fight. He’s not a guy that goes down very often. He’s not a guy that’s been stopped. Do you look at this as you’ve got to just go out and box pretty much the perfect kind of fight and win that decision otherwise it could be trouble for you?
Chris Algieri: No, the monster of campus and master boxer. We’ve got to go out there and be a master boxer. This is a boxing match. It’s not a barroom brawl. So, I’ve got to go out there and use my skills. And as much as Ruslan is a come forward and pressure fighter, it takes a certain amount of skills. And I know him and his team have been working on -- I’m sure working on more boxing skills and trying to work their game plan. So, it’s not just a fight. This is a boxing match. And we’re both going to go out there with our strategies. And, you know, a big part of mine is going to be trying to be a master boxer.
Do you feel like if he is able to pressure you and get right close to you and take it to you that if you have to you can stand and trade with guy because that’s the--he’s going to try to impose himself on you compared to another guy that might also want to box with you.
Chris Algieri: Yeah, I mean absolutely. There’s no shot that that I’m not going to have to fight. This is a boxing match. Ruslan’s going to put the pressure and he’s going be in front of me. But, at the same time even though I’m deemed the boxer and he the puncher, once we’re inside, I can still punch. I’m still going be in there, still being able to throw and use my skills on the inside.
Ruslan, you are the pressure fighter, the guy that likes to go there and get his guy mix it up, not necessarily the technical boxer. Is it all about for you tracking this guy down and getting him out of there?
Ruslan Provodnikov: All my career I’ve had to fight guys that were taller than me and had longer arms. And all I’ve had to do is try to get to them and try to pressure them. It’s no secret what my plan is. Of course I’m going to pressure. We know what he’s going to do. I mean they all try to box me and they all try to move and jab. But, I’m going to follow my plan and always do is that break the first one down outside. I can break him down from the distance from up close and from anywhere. And but the question is always how much can--how long can he jab?
Freddie, I wanted to ask you about that also. You know, how well he’d be able to go after a guy like Chris who is longer and is also a good boxer who has good movement? I mean Ruslan has not faced a lot of guys like that in his career it seems to me.
Freddie Roach: No, we definitely have to pressure him and cut the ring off and control the ring. And Chris is a very good boxer with long arms. And we have to break him down and get inside early, set traps and we need to really control the ring. And that’s what we’ve been working on quite a bit. Ruslan’s getting very good at controlling the ring and keeping himself in the best spot. So, I think that’s the big key to the fight is who’s going control the ring.
When this fight was originally announced Nassau Coliseum was very much on the table to host this fight. I just wanted to know how close it was to actually taking place there and what swayed it to go to Barclays instead?
Arthur Pelullo: Well, it was very close to happening there. We agreed to make a deal there and then we didn’t actually -- weren’t able to sign the agreement. The gentleman was out sick. And then I get a call from Vadim, ‘don’t sign anything.’ You know, we have the opportunity to move it to the Barclays Center. And that’s exactly what happened.
Is there a plan for you to build up Ruslan in the East Coast specifically? I mean he’s now fighting 30 minutes away from Little Odessa.
Arthur Pelullo: Well, that was one of the main reasons why we decided to move the fight. He is in Brooklyn. He is 30 minutes from Brighton Beach. There is a large community of Russian people there. And we believe the ticket sales are going well. And we think that he’s going to become a star in that area. And the manager, general manager, president of the arena and the president of the Nets Brett Yormark, loves it, loves the kid, loves the fight. And would like to have more than one Ruslan fight there because things are going so well. It doesn’t hurt that, the owner of the Nets, Prokhorov, is a Russian too and he’s been very good at helping us get everything through Vadim and Albert, friends of Vadim’s in Russia, to help us get this deal. The bottom line is that Ruslan Provodnikov is a ticket seller and we think it’s going be a good show. And where better for him to defend his title for his first time, but in an area where we hit the market of his people, which is a great idea. And we got lucky, timing is everything.
Chris, question for you. I know you said it was always your dream to fight in New York, well, specifically Madison Square Garden. Was there any disappointment knowing that the fight wasn’t a little bit closer to home and Nassau Coliseum as opposed to your friends having to drive in or take a train instead?
Chris Algieri: No, the only disappointment was that being as Nassau would have been a very historic event because there hasn’t been a fight there in I believe almost 20 years. But, other than that, no, not at all. You know, Barclays is, like I said, is a beautiful arena. It’s brand new. Everything in it is pristine there. And they’re holding--you know, it’s pretty much the premier venue in the New York area now. But, in terms of my fans and I think the most of the people that I talk to are--were a lot more excited for it to be at the Barclays than even Nassau. It’s very easy to get to from Long Island, so it’s no issue.
Arthur Pelullo: I’d just like to say thank you to everybody for joining us. Like I said, we think it’s going to be a great event. As we just talked about, the main event, is a very intriguing fight because Chris Algieri is now where Ruslan Provodnikov was about two years ago when he fought Bradley. So, we’ll see what Ruslan is made of and because he’s supposed to win a fight like this, but it’s a very difficult fight. And I wish both of them good luck. The co-feature being Demetrius Andrade is going to be a heck of a fight with the number one contender against Brian Rose. That will also be a fight will determine the direction of his career. As you all know, the press conference will be Thursday, the weigh in is Friday. The doors open at 6:00. The first bout will be at 7:00. We will be airing the fight live internationally. The international show will start about 9:00 p.m. There’s plenty of tickets available. The ringsides are going very fast. But, there are a few tickets available in those price ranges as well. I want to thank everybody for coming, Chris, Joe, Ruslan, Freddie, and Vadim and everybody on the call. Thank you very much, guys.
Joe DeGuardia: No, I’ll just echo your comments, Artie. I appreciate everybody being on the call. I’m certainly looking forward to June 14 where I think we’re gonna have a fantastic match and certainly a wonderful boxer, puncher, bull matador, all those kind of clichés that we’ll be able to see on June 14. I think it’ll be a great night. And be sure to be there at the Barclays Center or tune in on HBO June 14.
Ruslan Provodnikov: You know everybody, it was a great conversation and I want to wish good luck to Chris. I hope you do have a great training camp. And I’ll see everybody June 14.
Chris Algieri: I would just like to thank everybody for being involved in the call and for everybody who came and called and asked questions. I wish the best of luck to Ruslan and his team and to Freddie and the rest of your camp, that I hope it goes well. And I will see you guys on June 14.
June 4, 2014