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Pacquiao Times Square 121130 006aFreddie Roach is by no means thinking that Brandon Rios, because he's a come-forward guy, and isn't the counter-punching ace that Juan Manuel Marquez is, will be a tailor-made “W” for his guy Manny Pacquiao. Roach knows full well that Manny is no spring chicken, that he turns 35 in December and the finish line is near. But Roach isn't going to coddle the Congressman, take it easy on him, structure a camp where Manny is the boss and the opportunity to rest is of paramount import. No, Roach told me, he will be insuring that Pacquiao is as ready to rock Nov. 23 against Rios in Macau as fate will allow.

Five-time BWAA trainer-of-the-year Roach (seen conferring with Pacman, in Chris Farina-Top Rank photo) said he will run camp in General Santos City, Phillipines, in pretty close proximity to Macau, and will import a badass hitter to push Manny, in Ruslan Provodnikov. You'll recall that Provodnikov was dismissed by many “smarts” as a mere speedbump for Timothy Bradley, and while the judges gave Bradley the nod when he and Ruslan clashed on March 16, I thought that the ending perhaps should have been different if the arbiters were more free with 10-8 rounds.

Roach trains Provodnikov, and he and Pacquiao have become pals, but that doesn't mean they won't push each other to the limits in camp. Provodnikov, Roach told me, is keen to stay sharp, because he wants to secure a meaningful bout in the near future. Any hints on what that faceoff might be, Freddie?

“I've heard around town that Mayweather might want Ruslan as his next opponent, on September fourteenth,” Roach told me. “That would be a hard fight to turn down. Against Floyd, I think Ruslan would have a puncher's chance. It would be a big payday, and he's got his family to take care of for the rest of his life.”

Roach said Team Provodnikov, which includes promoter Art Pellulo, would be mulling options. Since Provodnikov isn't part of the Top Rank team–Top Rank only would have options on him if he had beaten Bradley–he isn't subject to the “cold war” conditions which keep anyone affiliated with Top Rank fighting Mayweather.

Your thoughts, readers? I do think Provodnikov would be more likely to go balls out, even if that meant leaving himself open to being countered harshly, than Guerrero did, against Mayweather. What say you?

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