by Hamilton Nolan
Every fighter need not be a world champion. He need not be the slickest, the most well-rounded, the most polished athlete at the pinnacle of human performance. Sometimes, to make it to the sport’s highest heights, it is enough to be good at just one thing. Punching, preferably. He who loves to punch will find love in boxing. Everything else can wait.
The road of extreme, devil-may-care punching is a hard one to walk. But some fighters are naturally drawn to it. Those who embrace it fully--who give their bodies, and their hearts, and their health to the cause of hard punching, consequences be damned--often find themselves more popular than other fighters who, while objectively better, seem to lack that near-insane lust for violence. Mike Alvarado and Ruslan Provodnikov are both fighters of this sort. When they come together, the only thing guaranteed is smashing.