Lem Satterfield

Manny Pacquiao’s next opponent likely Tim Bradley or Ruslan Provodnikov

 

Advisor Michael Koncz and Top Rank CEO Bob Arum will meet at Arum's Los Angeles home on Saturday with teh goal of deciding the opponent for Manny Pacquiao on April 12 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, which is likely going to be either Tim Bradley or the eight-division titlewinner's former sparring partner, Ruslan Provodnikov.

"I have a meeting tomorrow with Bob about who Manny's fighting next," said Koncz. "I was on the plane on Christmas Day going to the Philippines, and I had a meeting with Bob before I went to the Philippines. Then I had a brief discussion with Manny before I was on the plane coming back from the Philippines on New Years Day.

"I intend to have another conversation with Manny tonight prior to meeting with Bob at his house in Los Angeles. I'm not in a rush. Depending on what Manny and I decide, we'll relay that to Bob. But it takes time to make good deals, so I don't think that we'll come to a complete conclusion on everything tomorrow."

Pacquiao, who turned 35 in December, is coming off November's unanimous decision over former 140-pound titleholder Brandon Rios, who made his welterweight debut.

In victory, Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 knockouts) rebounded from having been dethroned as WBO welterweight titleholder following a split-decision loss to Bradley in June of 2012, and dropped twice during a sixth-round stoppage loss to Juan Manuel Marquez in December of that year.

A 30-year-old Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs) won his last two fights by rising from a 12th-round knockdown to unanimously decision Provodnikov in March of last year before earning October's split-decision over Marquez, who is 1-2-1 against Pacquiao.

Provodnikov (23-2, 16 KOs), who turns 30 on Jan. 20, bounced back with two knockdowns during a 10th-round stoppage of  Mike Alvarado, from whom he earned the WBO's junior welterweight title.

"I'm meeting with Michael Koncz tomorrow, and then we'll have to finalize with whomever he's going to be chosen to fight. There won't be any news until everything is signed. That will be next week," said Arum.

"Once we select the opponents, I'll tell you what I think is exciting about the fight. I don't want to do that right now. But Marquez doesn't want to do it. I know he doesn't want to do it. He doesn't want to fight Pacquiao."

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While expressing bitter disappointment following the loss to Bradley, Marquez (55-7-1, 40 KOs) was supremely

satisfied with his triumph over Pacquiao.

"I just don't believe that Marquez would ever fight Manny again. Sure we'd like to fight him and redeem ourselves after the mistake that Manny made in that fight. But why would Marquez ever want to fight us again? I believe what Marquez says. He's content with what he did that night and the glory of having knocked Manny out, whether it was legitimate or not," said Koncz.

"Like I've said before, we don't view that as a serious loss because we were dominating the fight. But Manny got careless, and he connected on a good punch that Manny walked right into. I don't think Marquez is going to want it. We're not chasing anybody, and I don't think that Marquez is going to come back and negotiate with us."

Bradley edged Pacquiao by scores of 115-113 on the cards of official judges C.J. Ross and Duane Ford, while Jerry Roth had it the same way for Pacquiao. An informal poll of 51 writers favored Pacquiao over Bradley, 48-3.

The Bradley-Pacquiao contract contained a clause calling for a return bout, although Pacquiao was widely reported to be considering the fourth fight with Marquez.

Still, in the immediate aftermath of his loss to Bradley, Pacquiao hinted at a rematch with the fighter from Palm Springs, Calif., who ended his 15-bout winning streak that included eight knockouts.

"My supporters shouldn't worry," Paquiao told The Associated Press in Manila, Philippines. "We're going to get that title."

Bradley's manager, Cameron Dunkin, has expressed confidence that his fighter could easily win a return bout with Pacquiao.

"I would love to see him fight Pacquiao again. I love that fight…I would like him to fight Pacquiao again," said Dunkin. "Because I think that he could settle a lot of things that are inside of him in the rematch, because I think that he'll beat him good this time."

Banner Promotions' President Artie Pelullo, who guides Provodnikov, said that he would like "The Siberian Rocky's" next fight to be a rematch with Bradley if not a matchup with Pacquiao.

But a Pacquiao-Provodnikov bout is something that trainer Freddie Roach does not want, given that he works with both fighters. If a Pacquiao-Provodnikov bout was to happen, however, it would have to come at no small price for Provodnikov, who would have to find another trainer.

"Even though I have said before that I don't want Ruslan to go into any fight without Freddie Roach," said Provodnikov's manager, Vadim Kornilov, "Freddie has said himself that if Ruslan was offered a lot of money to fight Manny, it would be hard to say no, because it would mean everything for Ruslan and the future of his family."

Roach was not on the scene during Provodnikov's win over Alvarado, but instead was in General Santos City Philippines, preparing Pacquiao for Rios. In Roach's absence, Provodnikov took direction from assistant Marvin Somodio, whose instructions where translated by Kornilov.

 

 

Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank

Lem Satterfield can be reached at lemuel.satterfield@gmail.com

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