MANILA, Philippines – Russian brawler Ruslan Provodnikov, fondly called “The Siberian Rocky,” has no desire to fight his sparring partner and good friend, Filipino fight king Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao.
Provodnikov was in the audience when Pacquiao thoroughly dismantled Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios in Macau last weekend, and admitted to Boxing Scene that he worried about the “Pacman” even though his victory was clear.
“I was very worried about Pacquiao in the fight. My hands were shaking. It was the kind of nervous feeling as if I was going into a fight,” he said. “Every punch Pacquiao got away from, I was nervous.”
“But it was good that Pacquiao won all of the rounds,” he added.
Pacquiao won via unanimous decision, his first clear victory in two years. Following the fight, it was suggested that he may wind up fighting Provodnikov next, as the Russian’s stock has risen steadily following his knockout victory over Mike Alvarado.
But Provodnikov, now the WBO junior welterweight champion, shied away from the Pacquiao fight.
“I don’t want to fight Pacquiao, and I think I’m doing the right thing,” said the hard-hitting Russian.
Instead, he said he welcomes a showdown with Rios, whether at light-welterweight or at welterweight.
“(Rios) said he doesn’t want to go back down to 140 (pounds), that he wants to stay at 147. I’m ready. I can go up to 147, that’s not a problem,” Provodnikov said.
“But I’ll say it again. I don’t want to fight Manny. I don’t need that fight,” he stressed.
Provodnikov even suggested that it may be time for Pacquiao to hang up his gloves, after the Filipino visibly held off in the final rounds of the fight even though he had Rios in trouble.
“I think (trainer) Freddie (Roach) should talk to him, because maybe it’s time to finish up his career,” said Provodnikov. “With a boxer like Rios, Manny couldn’t put him away.”
“You could see that he didn’t have that same fire, that same desire that he used to have in the past. Rios did all that he could, he couldn’t do any more than that,” he added.
“I saw that Manny stopped beating him up in the later rounds and just quietly boxed away.”