I chatted with a source at Top Rank on Friday morning, and asked if it is likely or not that a Provodnikov-Bradley rematch gets made, especially in the very near term. Money would be an impediment, perhaps, with pieces of pie needing to be split among Ruslan, Banner, Bradley and Top Rank, was the takeaway I got from that quick chat. So, bottom line what are the chances we see Provodnikov-Bradley II in 2014? "Slim," I was told. I got the sense maybe that the prospect for a Miguel Cotto-Tim Bradley fight in December is better than "slim," for the record.
Knowing what I do about human nature, and his demeanor, I do think that whoever gloves up with Ruslan Provodnikov next better be at his very best, and expecting a dialed-in and fully focued Siberian Rocky.
So, who gets that maybe unenviable task, the fight after the one in which he dropped Chris Algieri twice in round one, but then allowed the New Yorker to get back in the bout, and take a decision, in Brooklyn?
Who is the next poor sap, er, opponent, who will be on the other end of Provodnikov's unleashed fury, which stems from his belief that he beat Algieri, and the America treated the event as more track meet than boxing match?
I posed the question to "Rocky's" promoter, Philly-based Arthur Pelullo. The dealmaker, who in one of the savvier moves of the year, hedged his bets, and got Algieri promoter Joe DeGuardia to cut him in a significant percentage of earnings from Algieri's next couple fights, clued TSS on the plan for Provodnikov.
"I am working on getting Ruslan a November date," Pelullo told me. Provo has become a recent HBO fave, no surprise since the man fights in the manner hewing to their current braintrust's imprimatur, which is the securing of the services of men who seek to fight more than engage in majestic applications of the sweet science. So, have Pelullo and HBO narrowed down a list of potentials? "Yes, the winner of the Brandon Rios-Diego Chaves fight, and also Mauricio Herrera," Pelullo said.
Rios tangles with Chaves on Saturday in Vegas, and on HBO, in a fight seen in some circles as coin flip affair. And who does Pelullo think gets the W there? "I think Rios," he said. "I want to put Ruslan in the biggest fight possible," he continued.
Speaking of that biggest fight possible. In talking with Freddie Roach, I gleaned that it was looking likely that if Ruslan had beaten Algieri, the date with Manny Pacquiao Algieri snagged, on Nov. 22, would have been his for the taking. So, harkening back to where I started, about the possibility that Ruslan will be wickedly honed for this next tangle. You don't think Ruslan might be a tad peeved that like $4 million slip through his fingers?
Another thought popped into my head while mulling Ruslan's next. Provodnikov and Timothy Bradley engaged in a violent classic when they butted heads, fists and wills in March 2013. Bradley was almost out early and late, but summoned a reserve of energy from Lord knows where, and was able to make it to the final bell, so he could enjoy a unanimous decision win in the 2013 Boxing Writers Association of America Fight of the Year.
Being that Bradley is looking for a bout, after last gloving up in April, and losing a UD12 to Manny Pacquiao, does it not make sense for Provodnikov and Bradley to reacquaint themselves to each other?
Both coming off losses, both presumably aching to prove their worth in this what-have-ya-done lately? business…
Talk to me, fight fans. Is a Provodnikov-Bradley rematch the best option for both men next? Or you like the winner of Rios-Chaves for the Siberian ex champ? Or you think the talented but unheralded Herrera is most deserving of a slot in a main event? Weigh in!
Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?