Manny Pacquiao vs Ruslan Provodnikov on tap?

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After a change of heart, newly-crowned WBO junior welterweight champion Ruslan Provodnikov (23-2, 16 KO ) is now lobbying for the opportunity to face former sparring partner and friend Manny Pacquiao.

Provodnikov's decision, although not entirely surprising, is rarely seen in boxing as fighters with the same head trainer seldom go head-to-head in a prizefight.

Following his thrilling and decisive win over Mike Alvarado in October, some in the media bantered about the prospects for a Pacquiao vs Provodnikov superfight but Ruslan initially quelled those speculations, citing his with friendship with Manny and their common trainer, Freddie Roach, as obstacles.

But things have changed...

"The chances are good that we will meet Pacquiao on April 12," Provodnikov told BoxingScene.

"As you know, I originally did not want to fight with the Filipino, because we both trained under the guidance of Freddie Roach."

If Pacquiao vs Provodnikov comes to fruition, Ruslan clearly understands he'll need the services of a new trainer as Freddie Roach has no intention of leaving his prized pugilist and the sport's second biggest draw.

"It will be necessary to look for a new coach, because if a fight with Manny takes place, then Freddie Roach, of course, will side with him."

But Ruslan also realizes that fighting Manny not only affords him the opportunity to become boxing royalty (should he win), even a strong showing in defeat would elevate his stock and increase his leverage and purse sums in future bouts.

Win or lose, Ruslan, in fighting Pacquiao, would be paid handsomely. Unless he's utterly embarrassed, the crowd-pleasing Russian stands to benefit tremendously from such a bout regardless the outcome.

"... While I was on vacation at a resort - I carefully thought about the situation. And I decided that if fate is giving me the opportunity, then I need to use it," said the Russian.

"To refuse a fight with such a great boxer is stupid," he added.

"I've always wanted to fight with the best - and Pacquiao is at the top of the ceiling. I'm confident in myself. There is no doubt that I can have real fight with him."

However, Provodnikov, ever since his dismantling of Alvarado last fall, has been calling out fight legend Juan Manuel Marquez and made no secret about who he'd like to fight next.

"But the most preferred opponent for me is Juan Manuel Marquez."

"I know that negotiations are being conducted with him. But if he refuses, then I have to fight with Pacquiao."

Regardless of who Ruslan fights next, it'll be a sizzler.

Manny Pacquiao and Top Rank are expected to announce PacMan's April 12th opponent in the coming days.

Alvarado vs. Provodnikov highlights - 2013
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