BROOMFIELD, CO - OCTOBER 19: Ruslan Provodnikov (R) of Russia fights Mike Alvarado as Provodnikov won their bout with a TKO in the 10th round to claim the WBO Junior Welterweight Title at the 1stBank Center on October 19, 2013 in Broomfield, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Immediately after Manny Pacquiao defeated Brandon Rios in Macau, three names popped up as the Pacman’s possible next opponent. Freddie Roach, speaking in front of the media in the post-fight press conference, said he wanted his star student to face Juan Manuel Marquez, Timothy Bradley, or Floyd Mayweather. Top Rank Promotions boss Bob Arum refused to drop names but said, “the names on your list are on my list too.”

A fifth fight with Marquez will still sell because of the rivalry. A tiff against Bradley will be interesting because of the revenge angle. A match against Mayweather could be one of the biggest fights in boxing history. But there is one more option, less talked about, but still highly interesting.
Enter Russian Ruslan Provodnikov, the one-time Pacquiao sparmate and reigning World Boxing Organization light welterweight champion.
“Ruslan told me he does not want to fight Manny,” Marvin Somodio said in Filipino after the Pacquiao-Rios fight. Somodio is Freddie Roach’s assistant trainer at the Wild Card Gym and his understudy. “He knows that Freddie will always train Manny and Ruslan does not want to leave Freddie.”

Pacquiao quickly clocked him with a lead left that cocked his head back. Other sparring partners will move back after that but he bowed his head back into position and launched a counter-attack. Provodnikov sported a black eye for the rest of that camp but it never bothered him.
Opportunities started pouring in for Provodnikov after he sparred with Pacquiao. He got his first shot at a world title against Bradley where he also suffered a highly unpopular decision defeat. He refused to be denied in his second world title as he stopped Alvarado, not allowing the judges to have their say.
A match between Pacquiao and Provodnikov should be an exciting battle from start to finish. Pacquiao, now more of a cerebral fighter, taking on an ultra-aggressive opponent should be a good fight. Pacquiao will be fighting a slower but more powerful version of him from three five years ago.


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