For a promoter whose stable is in danger of bleeding dry after his two most profitable cash cows, Manny Pacquaio and Juan Manuel Marquez, depart Top Rank and retire in the not too distant future, it beggars belief that Bob Arum’s new star pupil, Ruslan Provodnikov, still has no opponent lined up for his next fight.
What is more unbelievable is that Mike Alvarado, who was destroyed by Provodnikov in his very last fight, has been gift wrapped a scrap with Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez. The winner of that fight will face the victor of the Manny Pacquaio vs Timothy Bradley for the WBO welterweight title.
So despite being beaten to a pulp by the big punching Russian, Alvarado still somehow holds some of the aces, and is guaranteed at least one lucrative pay day and a massive fight against a future hall of famer. This article wishes to express no anti-Alvarado sentiments. He is a game fighter and a good opponent, but Provodnikov has proved beyond doubt that he is better. Put simply, Provodnikov has earned his props the hard way and based purely on merit he should be facing Marquez- not Alvarado.
So why then, is Provodnikov being spurned and denied opportunities he has dedicated his life to earning? It seems like the Top Rank stable are scared of the Siberian Rocky. Apart from Brandon Rios- the most willing target in the sport- none of the other star names in the Top Rank stable have expressed any interest in having the dangerous Russian as a dancing partner. Alvarado obviously neglected to negotiate terms for a rematch to regain the title he lost in his defeat to Provodnikov. From his reluctance for revenge we can deduce that he wants no further part of Provodnikov.
Provodnikov won’t fight Manny Pacquaio because Freddie Roach trains them both. As long time stable mates and sparring partners they are obviously good pals and thus it stands to reason neither would want to meet in the ring for real. Anyway, at this late stage of his career Ruslan Provodniov is probably the last man Manny Pacquaio would want to fight.
For similar reasons, Juan Manuel Marquez can also be ruled out of the equation. At 40 years old, the legendary Mexican is in the closing stages of his career and can ill afford to face such a relentless and powerful force as Provodniov, especially when he can pick up much greater paydays for far less punishment.
Timothy Bradley was lucky to escape a life and death battle against Provodnikov with his brain functions still intact, let him alone his title. He told Boxing News in an exclusive interview that he never wants another war like that again. But that dreaded scenario probably would be the exact narrative that would unfold if he were to face Provonikov again.
Bradley would be dragged into the trenches and forced to fight fire with fire on a basis far too frequent for his liking. The Russian has shown he has the capacity to cut off the ring and make his opponents exchange- he would likely have knocked Bradley out if there bout lasted for an extra 30 seconds as he cut off the ring very impressively in the closing stages after being out boxed in the middle rounds. Consequently, we can safely remove Bradley’s name from the list of potential opponents for Provodnikov.
Stylistically, Provodnikov versus Rios is a match made in heaven that would send both men to hell due to the horrendous punishment both would sustain. But after being found guilty of using a banned substance to help him cut weight for the Pacquiao encounter at 147lb, there are serious reservations about whether Brandan Rios could even make 140lb to fight Provodnikov. You know the situation is pretty desperate when one of your only potential opponents cannot possibly, or legally, make the weight limit for a fight.
Golden Boy Promotions could offer Provodnikov the paydays and prizefights his career craves. Judging by the current state of affairs at Top Rank they cannot provide the same opportunities.
From an outside perspective, it seems like Provodnikov has an easy decision to make: defect from Top Rank and join Golden Boy’s burgeoning stable of fighters in the welterweight divisions.
Thanks for reading fight fans.
Do you think Provodnikov has to leave Top Rank?
Who would you like to see him fight next?
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