Ruslan Provodnikov is moving toward the tricky moment of needing to call out his stablemate Manny Pacquiao.
Before that, he can just concentrate on what he does best: throw power punches in a hurry and continue to draw a crowd around his abilities.
Provodnikov (23-2, 16 knockouts) captured the World Boxing Organization junior-welterweight title in October by demolishing Mike Alvarado with two eighth-round knockdowns before Alvarado quit on his stool after the 10th round.
Before that, Provodnikov engaged in the 2013 fight of the year against Timothy Bradley, leaving the former welterweight world champion with a narrow victory -- and concussion effects.
Obviously, with that trail of savageness, there weren’t a lot of people willing to fight Provodnikov next until former kick-boxer Chris Algieri (19-0, eight KOs) of Long Island, N.Y., volunteered for the HBO-televised bout Saturday night at 7 p.m. PDT at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“It does not bother me,” Provodnikov, 30, said through a Russian interpreter during a recent conference call. “I'm very loyal to my space in life, and Chris is a great opponent. This is what happened, and this is the way it should have been. I know my time will come.”
Yet, Provodnikov trainer Freddie Roach of Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood said his fighter two weeks ago asked him to have a shot at Pacquiao if no other major opponent can be found.
Roach said in an interview with The Times on Tuesday night that Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum does not believe that Pacquiao rival Juan Manuel Marquez will agree to fight Pacquiao for a fifth time in November.
Though other possible Pacquiao opponents -- such as another junior-welterweight world champion, Danny Garcia, and former Pacquiao stablemate Amir Khan -- have been mentioned, Provodnikov wants the Pacquiao opportunity, Roach said.
“I still don’t really have interest in that fight, but his manager came begging to me to make it happen, and I asked Ruslan, ‘Do you really want to make that fight happen? You’re going to lose me as a trainer, and have a slim chance of winning,’” Roach said. “Ruslan said, ‘Well, we need big fights like that.’ I said, ‘If you want it, I’ll give it to you.’”
Roach said Provodnikov’s distress at not finding a name opponent is driving the Pacquiao push. The trainer agreed that “he’d make much more [for Pacquiao] than he is in this one” on Saturday.
The task this weekend is for Provodnikov to bolster his rising reputation as a devastating force.
Winning impressively “is a big responsibility for me,” Provodnikov said. “Most importantly, because now I'm a world champion and I'm defending my title, I have to fight like a world champion. I will try to finish the fight in a great fashion ... I always do.”
Algieri is a boxer of some regard, but Roach said he’s seen video of the challenger in a kick-boxing match “get knocked out before his head hit the deck.”
So the Provodnikov punches will be flying again.
“He’s told me, ‘I don’t take it easy on anybody, don’t worry about me not rising to the occasion,’” Roach said. “He’s faster than people think. It doesn’t seem like he has the best power, but he hit me the other day like no other puncher.”
That’s saying a lot considering Roach trains Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto, among others.
“Ruslan is a great fighter, a pressure fighter,” Algieri said in a conference call. “He comes forward. He's super tough, very durable. ... Just based on past fights, there is a weakness with dealing with a jab and a boxer and movement. Those are the things that we've been trying to work most on. Ruslan is going to press the action. I'm going to have to stand and fight at times.”
Exactly what Provodnikov and Roach want.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times