LAS VEGAS – For the man who almost inflicted Tim Bradley his first career loss as a pro, Ruslan Provodnikov believes the reigning World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight champion is there for the picking for challenger Manny Pacquiao.
And so it all depends on the Filipino boxing superstar whether he’ll go all-out firing or hold his punches back again just as he did during his first meeting against the unbeaten American.
“It’s really up to Manny,” said Provodnikov through his interpreter on the eve of the 12-round title rematch at the MGM Grand here. “If he’s got it all back, he’ll win every round.”
The young Russian, of course, knows what he's talking about.
Provodnikov, now the reigning WBO light-welterweight title holder, served a Pacquiao’s sparmate during the first Bradley fight in 2012 and his fourth meeting against Juan Manuel Marquez later that year.
At the same time, he made life miserable for Bradley when they fought in February last year after knocking down the champion from Palm Springs, California during the 12th and final round of their welterweight title match.
Unfortunately, the knockdown came too late in the day as Bradley had by then earned enough points in the earlier rounds to pull off a unanimous decision win.
But against Pacquiao, Provodnikov doesn’t see the same thing happening. Of course, so long as the 35-year-old boxing great won’t carry Bradley again the way he did in their initial meeting.
“If Pacquiao wants it, it’s there,” said the Russian about his good pal and Wild Card stablemate.