Despite the fact he only won one of his two fights, 2013 was an excellent year for Ruslan Provodnikov.
He lost his first bout to Timothy Bradley last March, but he certainly did lose any fans. Instead, “The Siberian Rocky” gained a legion of new ones thanks to the entertaining show he put on against the WBO welterweight champion, hurting Bradley a few times, sending him to the canvas during the final round of their 12-round title showdown.
Provodnikov (23-2-0, 16 KOs) followed that up with another inspiring performance against Mike Alvarado — who was coming off an entertaining unanimous decision victory against Brandon Rios — last October, sending “Mile High” to the canvas a couple of times during the eight round, forcing Alvarado to throw in the towel after 10 rounds, snagging the WBO light-welterweight title.
Unfortunately for Ruslan, his success inside the squared circle has made his current search for an opponent quite difficult.
Provodnikov was initially hoping for a rematch against Bradley, or a big-name fight against his most popular training partner, Manny Pacquiao. However, Bradley and Pacquiao have agreed to square off for the second time on April 12.
Ruslan then tried to get something done with Juan Manuel Marquez, the last man to defeat Pacquiao, calling the Mexican out during a recent interview.
“Marquez now knows that Bradley is not fighting him until maybe the end of the year, and Marquez is not getting any younger,” Provodnikov said. “So I know that the only possible pay-per-view fight for Marquez that will draw is against me, and if he doesn’t agree to the fight now I am sure he is just afraid of me.”
Unfortunately for Provodnikov, that wasn’t enough to goad Marquez.
“Provodnikov is a great fighter, he demonstrated that with Bradley,” Marquez responded. “He is very strong, I think the challenge is there, and I have never ignored anyone — but right now I’m at a stage in my career where I want something that helps me in leaving a legacy. I want that fifth championship, and if that does not exist for me then I’m closer to retirement.”
“I would gain nothing by fighting with Provodnikov for a title that I already owned. I want something that transcends, for the history of my career and my country. I’m looking to leave a legacy in boxing.”
It hard to fault Marquez for his stance given how articulately he stated his points, and there are likely others who feel the same way about Provodnikov right now. At this point in his boxing career, the Russian has already established himself as a serious threat to most welterweights/ light welterweights around, yet he doesn’t have the drawing power and status that makes the risk worth the reward.
That reality will continue to complicate Provodnikov’s search for his next opponent.