Speaking with our friend Corey Erdman of Fight Network, Banner Promotions chief Artie Pelullo said that his fighter, WBO junior welterweight titlist Ruslan Provodnikov, won't be fighting Brandon Rios. The reason? Pelullo doesn't believe Rios can make 140 -- and says that Bob Arum can't guarantee he will -- and he doesn't want to waste his fighter's time:
"We would love to fight Brandon Rios, but not at 155 pounds, or 154 pounds, or 147. ... Brandon Rios is a good fighter. He's lost his last two fights and in his last fight he tested positive for, I guess, performance-enhancing drugs, I guess it was diuretics or whatever. The problem we have with that fight is that I don't think his own promoter can guarantee that he can make weight, and I don't want my fighter, who's always in shape and is a great athlete, and is on the cusp of fighting the Pacquiaos, the Bradleys, the Marquezes -- they're all essentially trying to avoid him, because he's the biggest puncher in the division.
"We fight Brandon Rios and he can't make weight, that's a problem. That's a real problem for the fans and for my kid, who's actually making weight. See, when you have to make weight, you're working at cutting weight, so you're taking your body apart to make weight. And if we make it a 140-pound title, and that's what we'd have to do to defend our title, and he comes in at 47, 48, 46, 45, he didn't break his body down to make the weight. He didn't have to go the extra nine yards.
"I'm not gonna do that. And Bob Arum told me he cannot deliver (Rios) at 140 pounds. And we're not going up to 147, because that benefits him. My kid fights at 140. Only time he ever fought at 47 was against Bradley, and he came in at 44, because it was an opportunity. Now if there's a Bradley or Pacquiao fight and there's millions of dollars, he's going back to 47. But not for Brandon Rios. (Rios) has to make 40. And I don't believe he can make 40."
So where does that leave Provodnikov? With some less than thrilling options, in all honesty:
"Right now he'll be back on HBO sometime in May or June. Those are the deadlines for his fight. And there's a lot of guys that we're talking about. (Thomas) Dulorme is one, (Antonio) DeMarco is another one, and the kid who won the fight on Friday night on ESPN, (Chris) Algieri is another one. Basically, we have told HBO that he will fight anybody at 140 pounds. Because Ruslan can beat anybody at 140 pounds. So we're OK with whoever they want to put us with."
Dulorme (20-1, 14 KO) has won four straight as he's worked to get himself down from 147 to 140 following a TKO loss to Luis Carlos Abregu on HBO in 2012, but he's far from a legitimate contender at this point. The same can be said of DeMarco (30-3-1, 23 KO), who moved up from lightweight to welterweight after his punishing loss in 2012 to Adrien Broner, winning two fights over veteran non-contenders. DeMarco is a pretty decent fighter, but not a contender at 140. And Algieri (19-0, 8 KO) is just starting to get some TV exposure, but he's also 29 years old, and his window figures to be small.
None of these are fights that I expect would get too many people excited, but the good news with a guy like Provodnikov (23-2, 16 KO) is you will always tune in specifically to see him fight, thanks to his fan-friendly style. So he's at least got that going for him, and let's not forget that they tried to fight Juan Manuel Marquez, who didn't want anything to do with it. It's also hard to blame them for not wanting to give up anything to face Brandon Rios, who is on a losing streak, or take the risk that Rios won't even make weight, because it's been a consistent problem.