Ruslan Provodnikov: "If (Juan Manuel Marquez) doesn't agree to the fight now, I am sure he is just afraid of me."

Doug Pensinger

Junior welterweight contender Ruslan Provodnikov says Juan Manuel Marquez is afraid of him if they do not fight.

It's no secret that Ruslan Provodnikov has wanted a shot at Juan Manuel Marquez if he couldn't get a fight with either Manny Pacquiao or Tim Bradley. The Pacquiao fight always felt like a longshot due to the them sharing the same trainer, Freddie Roach, and Provodnikov not being as big of a name as the other guys being considered for Manny. And a Bradley rematch didn't seem likely to happen next because Bradley was always the front-runner to face Pacquiao in April.

Thus Provodnikov has turned his attention to Marquez, the Mexican counterpuncher who is most famous for knocking out Pacquiao in six rounds in December 2012. However, Marquez lost his last fight to Bradley via close decision and has been desperate to garner a rematch. But with Bradley set to face Pacquiao in April, that leaves him unavailable for Marquez until at least autumn. Not to mention the fact that Bradley has yet to appear overly tantalized by the appeal of a rematch with a man he clearly defeated a few months ago.

Much of this carousel of opponents has to do with boxing's Cold War, the battle between promotional companies Top Rank and Golden Boy. Provodnikov knows Marquez is limited with options (as is Provodnikov, admittedly) and is attempting to corner him into taking a fight he likely doesn't want.

Is Provodnikov a big enough name to headline a PPV against Marquez? That's a good question, and Marquez may simply feel like sitting out until after Pacquiao-Bradley in order to determine who to get in the ring with next.

Boxing Scene's Ryan Burton was able to speak with Provodnikov on who he will fight next, and Russian contender sounded pretty confident of his choice.

"Marquez now knows that Bradley is not fighting him until maybe the end of the year, and Marquez is not getting any younger, so I know that the only possible pay-per-view fight for Marquez that will draw is against me, and if he doesn't agree to the fight now I am sure he is just afraid of me."

Woah, he played the AFRAID card here. It's a big one.

Is Marquez afraid of Provodnikov? That's highly unlikely but he may feel that the risk is not worth the reward. I wouldn't be surprised if Marquez waits this out and returns in the fall to face either Pacquiao or Bradley again (and again and again and again).

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