Saying that he expects to return to the ring in May, four-division titlewinner Juan Manuel Marquez won't be lured into fighting Ruslan Provodnikov, even though the Russian WBO 140-pound beltholder has stated that the Mexican boxer is "afraid of me" and that time is running out on the aging veteran.
Marquez credits Provodnikov for being "a great fighter," given that "The Siberian Rocky" floored WBO 147-pound titleholder Tim Bradley in the 12th-round in March of last year in a bout that has been named the "Muhammad Ali–Joe Frazier" Fight of the Year by The Boxing Writers Association of America.
But Marquez craves a rematch with Bradley, to whom he lost by split-decision in October of last year, if not a fifth bout with Manny Pacquiao, who will challenge Bradley on April 12 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Marquez is 1-2-1 against Pacquiao, whom he stopped in the sixth-round in December of 2012 after Pacquiao had been dethroned following a split-decision loss to Bradley in June of that year.
"Provodnikov is a great fighter. He demonstrated that with Bradley, and he’s very strong. I think the challenge is there, and I love challenges and will fight anyone, as I have not shunned anyone," said Marquez, who turns 41 in August. "But right now, at this stage of my career, I want something that will leave a legacy. I want that fifth championship. If that does not present itself, then I'm closer to retirement."
Provodnikov rebounded from the loss to Bradley with October's 10th-round stoppage of Mike Alvarado, gaining the WBO 140-pound belt Alvarado had earned with a unanimous decision over Brandon Rios last March. Alvarado and Rios fought for the belt vacated by Marquez.
"Fighting with Provodnikov would not gain me anything," said Marquez. "I would be fighting for a title that was already mine before and if I beat him, it won't mean much. I want a transcending fight, something that will be historic."
Marquez plans to return to the ring in May before perhaps seeking the Bradley-Pacquiao winner after that. Marquez will likely retire after fighting in May if neither fighter, or another 147-pound beltholder is available.
"With Bradley, I don’t see that as a loss. It was a close fight, and I thought I did enough to win. If I decided to retire right now, I would be satisfied," said Marquez.
"I always said I wanted to fight Pacquiao and beat him and I did. I do want that [welterweight] title, but I'm not obsessed with it, though it would be a great achievement."