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Does Ruslan Provodnikov get Bradley rematch, or shot at Pacquiao or Marquez next?

Credit: Chris Farina - Top Rank

Provodnikov Ready for the Big Time After Next Fight:

The iron-fisted Ruslan Provodnikov has been on a roll since he exploded onto the scene last March, when he took Timothy Bradley right to the edge. He followed up on that surprisingly credible performance by out-slugging Mike Alvarado in a fight where he was once again the (slight) underdog.

Clearly the boxing world didn’t think enough of Provodnikov, but that is no longer the case. He is the #1 light welterweight contender in the world, and according to Max Kellerman, now everybody is ducking the rugged Russian. Mid-June sees him headline an HBO card in a fight against undefeated Chris Algieri, so the pertinent questions now are: 1) can Provodnikov beat Algieri, and 2) will that win earn him either a rematch with Bradley, or propel him into a major catchweight fight with Juan Manuel Marquez or Manny Pacquaio?

As for the first question, I see no reason why Provodnikov won’t blow through Algieri, a former kickboxer who is taking his first big step up in this fight. On top of his lack of big fight experience and the lackluster track record of fighters who transition from kickboxing to regular boxing (Thais excepted), Algieri is clearly a light hitter. Even with a record built on tomato cans and journeymen, Algieri has only eight kayos in 19 fights. Provodnikov should walk him down and smash him with little difficulty.

Then what? Since Provodnikov is an HBO fighter and Top Rank has had a hand in his most recent outings, there should be no promotional-political difficulties in making a marquee match for him. Further, with the kind of reputation that Provodnikov has quickly built for himself, he’s become a major attraction for HBO Boxing, and they want him on their airwaves, in exciting matches, against other big names.

Instead, the main difficulty will be finding an opponent willing to square off with him. Marquez and Pacquiao are ostensibly focused on each other right now, although negotiations already seem as if they won’t be easy. It’s entirely possible that Marquez jumps at the chance to face Provodnikov simply to stick it to Pacquiao. Or, perhaps we see the opposite, and Pacquiao signs on to face his former sparring partner, with Freddie Roached forced to abandon his pupil in the process.

But a more likely scenario for Provodnikov is a rematch with Bradley. In the wake of his loss to Pacquiao, a second go with Provodnikov makes sense, and Desert Storm might be more interested in erasing the stigma of his narrow win than worried about the possibility of losing.

So Provodnikov ought to get a proper marquee fight soon, and his June fight against Algieri should only serve to further build his reputation as a ruthless killer in the ring, one whom fans will flock to see.