Friends fight one another.
That's the message Vadim Kornilov, manager of WBO junior welterweight titleholder Ruslan Provodnikov, has for Manny Pacquiao regarding a potential fight between the two.
Provodnikov (23-2, 16 knockouts) is considered one of two options for the Filipino congressman Pacquiao's April 12 fight date, with the other being WBO welterweight titleholder Timothy Bradley, who has decision victories over both fighters.
While Pacquiao-Provodnikov is perhaps the most exciting major fight that can be made in boxing, the fact that both train under Freddie Roach makes a potential deal complicated. Provodnikov had even served as Pacquiao's primary sparring partner for the Bradley fight in 2012.
Kornilov tells RingTV.com that he and Provodnikov had discussed the possibility of fighting Pacquiao, and that Provodnikov is scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles today to discuss options for his next fight.
"I like the fight itself. I do not like that we have to go into this fight without Freddie Roach," said Kornilov. "I have said before that I don't want to take any fight without Freddie being in the corner.
"I think there is a good chance that the fight will happen sooner or later because it seems like the promoters, the TV, and the fans are interested in this fight."
The 35-year-old Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs) is coming off a dominant decision victory over former WBA lightweight titleholder Brandon Rios last November in Macau in his first fight since losing to Bradley and being knocked out in six rounds by Juan Manuel Marquez, consecutively.
Provodnikov, 29, of Beryozovo, Russia, scored a 10th-round stoppage of Mike Alvarado in his most recent fight this past October.
With Roach preoccupied training Miguel Cotto for his bout with Delvin Rodriguez, and then Pacquiao, Provodnikov had to settle for training with Roach's chief assistant Marvin Somodio.
Former junior bantamweight and bantamweight titleholder Gerry Penalosa, a close friend to Pacquiao, told this writer that he is "200 percent" sure Pacquiao will take a rematch with Bradley for his next fight, however.
Provodnikov is promoted by the Philadelphia-based Banner Promotions, but Top Rank holds an option to promote his next bout.
Kornilov and Provodnikov were both in Macau to watch Pacquiao's victory over Rios. Kornilov said "Manny looked great. We were very happy that he won. He looked a little cautious which I think is very normal considering what happened in his previous fight. "
When asked who would train Provodnikov in the event he fights Pacquiao, Kornilov responded: "This is a very difficult question."
Other notable fights where former sparring partners faced each other include Larry Holmes' 10th-round stoppage of a faded Muhammad Ali in 1980, Jhonny Gonzalez's first-round knockout of Abner Mares last year and Roy Jones Jr.'s decision win over Lou Del Valle in a 1998 light heavyweight title unification bout.
Photo / Chris Farina
Ryan Songalia is the sports editor of Rappler, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and a contributor to The Ring magazine. He can be reached at [email protected] An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.