Ruslan Provodnikov may have no intention of ruining his friendship with Manny Pacquiao, but the Siberian Rocky's proposal for Pacman's retirement only suggested that he doesn't consider the Filipino as an elite-level fighter anymore.
Provodnikov, who's coming off a 10-round domination of Mike Alvarado to grab the WBO Jr. Welterweight title in October, has already declined to fight Pacquiao, his friend and old sparring partner, despite the lure of big paychecks that comes with in every Pacman fight.
Provodnikov, who also trained under the tutelage of Boxing Hall of Famer Freddie Roach, believed he's doing the right thing by not accepting the fight with the former eight-division world champion. Nevertheless, the Russian slugger still drew the ire of several die-hard Pacquiao fans after suggesting the Filipino boxer to hang up his gloves for good.
The Russian was on the ringside when Pacman dominated Californian banger Brandon Rios through 12 rounds of their WBO International Welterweight rumble at Venetian Macao in Macau, China.
Provodnikov said he felt worried to see Pacquiao going against a bigger opponent after absorbing a sixth-round TKO loss to Juan Manuel Marquez roughly a year ago. The Russian added that he had some sign of relief when it was announced that his friend won via unanimous decision.
"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," Provodnikov told Boxing Scene via ABS-CBN. "Every punch Pacquiao got away from, I was nervous."
"But it was good that Pacquiao won all of the rounds," he added.
When asked if he was impressed by the performance of Pacquiao, Provodnikov answered differently and started singing retirement rites for the Sarangani fighting congressman.
"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. I saw that Manny stopped beating him up in the later rounds and just quietly boxed away," Provodnikov said.
Though Provodnikov's concern for his friend is quite admirable, it's easy to tell what's on the mind of the Russian by delving deeper into his comments. First of all, there's no reason to worry much about Pacquiao fighting a bigger opponent because he has proven to be a mismatch against taller and wider dudes throughout his career, just ask Antonio Margarito, Miguel Cotto and Oscar De La Hoya.
Moreover, Provodnikov might have drunk three bottles of Vodka when he asked Pacquiao to retire now. Pacquiao stressed that retirement is not yet an option for him as he looks to fight A-list opponents - including Floyd Mayweather - for the next two years.
Provodnikov might be a good friend, but he's not paying respect to Pacquiao as a true competitor. At age 34, Pacquiao can still easily knock out up-and-coming guys cold, and honestly, he is too much for the Russian.
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