Joel Diaz on Provodnikov: “He’s Always Been Told but Never Been Taught”

By Alex Burgos

Posted: October 22, 2015

Highly regarded trainer, Joel Diaz recently teamed up with former WBO Junior Welterweight champion, Ruslan “The Siberian Rocky” Provodnikov (24-4, 17 KOs).

Interestingly enough, Provodnikov made a name for himself fighting against a former pupil of Diaz’s, Timothy Bradley, back in 2013 on HBO.

Provodnikov vs. Bradley was a classic war that went on to be named 2013 Fight of the Year by Ring Magazine, and the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Since then, Provodnikov has continued to seek fights with the best opponents in his division, engaging in fan-friendly scraps with the likes of Mike Alvarado, Chris Algieri and Lucas Matthysse.

Provodnikov previously trained out of the Wild Card Boxing Club, under what sometimes seemed like a carousel of trainers including Marvin Somodio and Freddie Roach.

Seeking stability and a coach who could help him become a more complete fighter, Provodnikov and his manager Vadim Kornilov reached out to Diaz who agreed to train the Russian fan-favorite.

According to Diaz, Provodnikov has been lacking the attention that most top contenders and champions are accustomed to, which makes it all the more impressive that Provodnikov has already won a world title and just barely fallen short against some of the best opponents in and around the 140-pound division.

“He told me he’s never had a one-on-one trainer for two hours the way I do. I give him the time,” said Diaz in a recent interview with Round By Round Boxing.

When speaking with Diaz, one quickly gets the sense that he has big plans for Provodnikov and really enjoys what he brings to the table.

“I love it because he’s about learning… It’s not that he’s a fast learner, it’s that he’s learning, he’s never been taught. He’s always been told, but he’s never been taught… I’m teaching him how to move, counter and avoid getting hit.”

While Provodnikov has become a fan favorite off the back of balls-to-the-walls performances against the likes of Mauricio Herrera and the aforementioned Matthysse, Diaz realizes that engaging in all-out wars every fight drastically shortens Provodnikov’s shelf life.

“I told his manager last week, because he was looking for [Thomas] Dulorme, [Lucas] Matthysse again, but I said why? He’s coming from one tough fight to another tough fight. Right now we’ve got time, give me time for me to work with him and teach him more. Let’s get him a confidence builder before the end of the year. And then at the beginning of the year let’s get him somebody, after that you can get whoever you want. I want him to build confidence and put to work what I’ve been teaching him.”

On Saturday, November 7, Provodnikov gets a chance to show off some of what he’s learned in his time with Diaz. Provodnikov will be back in the ring to headline a night of boxing at the Salle Des Etoiles in Monaco when he takes on undefeated Jesus Alvarez Rodriguez of the fighting city of Los Mochis, Mexico (14-0, 11 KOs).

One new wrinkle that fans can expect to see in Provodnikov’s offensive repertoire is a focus on body work. Instead of head hunting like he has in the past, Diaz is teaching Provodnikov to invest in a steady attack downstairs.

“Every sparring partner he’s had lately, they’re complaining about how hard he’s hitting them to the body–he’s never done that.”

2016 is set to be a pivotal year for Provodnikov who undoubtedly must pick up on what Diaz is teaching to be able to compete at a high level for years to come.

“I said, ‘I’ll make you a world champion, I promise, if you listen to me,’” said Diaz. The road to fulfilling that promise begins on November 7.

RBRBoxing Magazine Issue 3 Deluxe Edition - August 2015

Alex Burgos

Alex Burgos

A lover of sports and music, Alejandro “Alex” Burgos is a former Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report, current Contributing Writer for and the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Round By Round Boxing. He can be reached at

Alex Burgos

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