By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum and “Fighter of the Decade” Manny Pacquiao’s adviser Michael Koncz met in Arum’s home in Los Angeles on Saturday, but no decision was made on who Pacquiao will face in his planned return to the ring on April 12 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Koncz told BoxingScene.com/Manila Standard “I met at Arum’s house this afternoon but nothing is final as Manny and I are looking at all our options.”
Arum earlier told us the two possible opponents from which they are set to choose are WBO welterweight champion Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley who won a highly controversial twelve round split decision over Pacquiao in June 2012 and Pacquiao’s former sparring partner, WBO light welterweight champion Russian Ruslan Provodnikov who is coming off an impressive although losing effort against Bradley in a clash that was considered as “Fight of the Year.”
Arum said Juan Manuel Marquez “is definitely out” after the Mexican repeatedly stated he didn’t wish to face Pacquiao in a fifth fight.
Arum indicated he had no specific choice between Provodnikov and Bradley since he is a “non combatant.”
He said while Bradley presents an opportunity for Pacquiao to avenge his widely criticized split decision loss in June 2012 Provodnikov could be an attraction after his last explosive showing against Bradley.
Meantime, BoxingScene.com in an story attributed to the Daily Star describes Provodnikov as “an exceptionally powerful puncher” and said that after Mike “Mile High” Alvarado lost to the Russian revealed after their fight: "I have got concussion. This guy is a real power puncher.
Alvarado who beat Brandon “Bam Bam Rios” in a rematch before Rios was schooled by Pacquiao last November 24 said Provodnikov “will beat any welterweight out there. One of the punches really did concuss me and left me really dizzy."
WBO welterweight champ Timothy Bradley, who gained a close points decision over Provodnikov in March, also testified to the Russian's strength. Bradley, who had symptoms of neurological distress after the fight, said: "There's no doubt about it - he's more powerful than Pacquiao."
Provodnikov, who made his professional debut in 2006, has won 23 of his 25 fights with 16 of those coming by knockout.
It was after sparring with Pacquiao, who has won 10 world titles, that Provodnikov realized he could become a world champion.
He said: "As a kid, I thought about winning a world title, but it was always something of an unreal feeling.
"It was a dream that I always had and now it has happened.
"It shows that if you dedicate yourself, you can achieve your goals.
"It never seemed like it was possible, but after sparring with Manny, it became clear that I really could fight at the highest level."
Provodnikov, 29, comes from the bleak town of Beryozova in Siberia, where he had a tough upbringing and vowed to make it in the world of boxing.
He has the rugged power to surprise Pacquiao (55-5-2), who defeated WBO lightweight champion Brandon Rios in November.
Provodnikov said: "The chances are good that I will meet him in Las Vegas on April 12, even though there was a time when I didn't want this fight.
"We both train under Freddie Roach and if fate gives me the chance to face Manny, I will take it. To refuse to fight a great boxer is stupid."