Things have been pretty good for Ruslan Provodnikov lately.
His March 2013 fight against Timothy Bradley turned out to be one of the most entertaining fights of the year, with the Russian rocking "Desert Storm" multiple times during their showdown, sending him to the canvas during the 12th round.
Provodnikov (23-2-0, 16 KOs) followed that up with an even more impressive performance against Mike Alvarado, flooring "Mile High" a couple of times during the eight round, forcing his corner to stop the contest after ten rounds, snagging the WBO light-welterweight title.
With the eye-opening performances he had in 2013, Provodnikov is determined to follow up with another dominant performance against a respected opponent. If he has his way, his next opponent will be his training partner, Manny Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs).
Provodnikov feels it's a good matchup for him, and an excellent opportunity to add a big-name opponent to his list of victims. He doesn't seem particularly worried about how a fight would affect his relationship with the Filipino congressman, and he's confident he'll emerge victorious.
"First, there is nothing wrong with this [fight], it's business," Provodnikov explained during a recent interview. "Boxing history has shown us many examples where best friends go out and fight with each other. Although we can't really call ourselves [best friends] with Manny - we were friends, we knew each other and we were always talking when we met."
After getting knocked out cold by Juan Manuel Marquez late 2012, Pacquiao bounced back with an imposing performance against Brandon Rios. It was a relatively good showing for Pacquiao, but he failed to put Rios away, settling for a unanimous decision. Provodnikov wasn't impressed with Manny's performance.
"In that fight [against Brandon Rios], Manny showed that I have a good chance [to win]," he added.
Pacquiao's handlers made a feeble attempt to organize the highly-elusive super-fight against Floyd Mayweather following the win against Rios, but no progress was made. With that out of the picture, Pacquiao's options for his next fight seem to be dwindling down to Bradley or Provodnikov. His trainer, Freddie Roach, prefers the idea of this two top students going at it.
Bradley was awarded with a controversial decision after his 2012 tilt against Pacquiao, and he's racked up wins against Provodnikov and Marquez since then. Given Bradley's wins against Pacquiao and the last man to knock out the Filipino statesman (Marquez), he seems to be the most logical opponent.
However, a matchup against Provodnikov would likely lead to fireworks, and, given his aggressive style and punching power, the "Siberian Rocky" is good enough to pull off the upset.