LAS VEGAS — WBO 140-pounder Rusland Provodnikov said working out alongside Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto on Thursday at The Top Rank Gym under the guidance of Freddie Roach was like "a dream" come true.
Provodnikov told RingTV.com through translation by manager Vadim Kornilove that he is picking Pacquiao to gain revenge in Saturday's rematch with WBO welterweight beltholder Tim Bradley, who dethroned Pacquiao by disputed split-decision in June 2012, rose from a 12th-round knockdown to defeat Provodnikov by unanimous decision in March 2013, and earned a split-decision over Juan Manuel Marquez in October.
"I came on Monday to the states, and the first time that I saw Pacquiao and Cotto was yesterday when we were training," said Provodnikov, who scored two eighth-round knockdowns on the way to dethroning Mike Alvarado for the WBO 140-pound belt by 10th-round stoppage last October.
"Being in the gym with guys like this is hard to describe when it was just a dream not long ago to be around someone like them after watching them on television. Now, it's unreal. It's something that I can't describe. I'm very glad that my career has taken off like this."
Provodnikov (23-2, 16 knockouts) is scheduled for a June 14 clash with Chris Algieri (19-0, 8 KOs), who was last in the ring for last month's unanimous decision over Emmanuel Taylor.
Provodnikov said he was disappointed that Marquez chose a May 17 clash with Alvarado to rebound from the loss to Bradley.
Alvarado is 1-2 in his past three fights, having avenged a seventh-round knockout loss to Brandon Rios in October 2012 with a unanimous decision victory in their rematch in March 2013 before falling to prior to Provodnkikov.
"I am very, very disappointed about that. For me, the best option for my next fight, considering that Bradley is fighting Pacquiao, again, it would have been Marquez. Also, Brandon Rios, I really wanted that fight after Marquez, if it wasn't going to be Marquez. But it's not my fault that the fight didn't happen. I understand that sometimes that happens, and I understand that's part of the business. I understand why Marquez made that decision. He knows that there can be a bigger fight next," said Provodnikov.
"Marquez doesn't need to fight a crazy guy like I am, so he would rather fight Alvarado. Overall, I think it's the easier path of resistance for him. Right now, Alvarado is an easier fight, which he chose to do because he thinks that he's going to get Bradley next because Alvarado has already gotten knocked out by me and could make a lot more money fighting him and then Bradley again. Manny Pacquiao still is a dangerous fight for him, even though he knocked him out."
Who wins Bradley-Pacquiao?
"Manny Pacquiao, I believe wins that fight," said Provodnikov. "I had heard that he is returning with his hunger and that he is returning with his dramatic style. I saw him yesterday, and it looks like the hunger still is there. I hope that it's there, and that he's the serious Pacquiao once again."