The Siberian Rocky is in LA, plotting out his near future. Ruslan Provodnikov really wants to tangle with Juan Manuel Marquez, and it is glaringly apparent, in speaking to his manager Vadim Kornilov, that he'd rather meet the Mexican for less money than fight Manny Pacquiao for two or three or five times more.
"Ruslan went to the Wild Card to see trainer Freddie Roach last night," Kornilov told me. "Tonight (Thursday) we're meeting promoter Artie Pelullo. We're stuck on the Marquez fight."
I asked if more money from a Pacman fight wouldn't be more attractive if, say, a guy wants to hit that lotto jackpot, and give his family financial security in one fell swoop. "His priority is not money, and mine isn't either," Kornilov said. "My fiduciary responsibility is do what Ruslan wants."
And what the 29-year-old boxer, who was an ESPN Friday Night Fights standout before leaping up in stature with a stellar showing against Tim Bradley (on March 16, 2013) and a win over Mike Alvarado in his last outing, on Oct. 19, desires is not a bout with Pacquiao. They became pretty tight, with mutual respect overflowing, from sparring sessions, and Kornilov said that it is important to Team Provodnikov (23-2 with 16 KOs) that all elements of the machine stick together. That wouldn't be the case if Roach, who trains Manny, were to choose the Congressman, and be in his corner, not Ruslan's, on a Manny-Ruslan fightnight.
"We think a fight with Marquez is a great fight, a candidate for Fight of the Year," he continued. "We think a Pacquiao fight is great too. But we're not running after the biggest payday."
Kornilov, who grew up in Siberia 17 years ago, and now lives in LA, said they should know no later than the end of next week if Marquez wants to play this brand of ball, or they need to consider a Plan B or C.
Readers, weigh in. How do you see this playing out? Where will all these chips fall?
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV