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Pacquiao to spar Provodnikov to get ready for Rios

provodnikov22By Chris Williams: Former welterweight title challenger Ruslan Provodnikov will be one of the sparring partners to help get Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KO’s) get ready for his November 24th fight against Brandon Rios (31-1-1, 23 KO’s) at the Cotai Arena, Venetian Resort, Macao, Macao S.A.R., China, according to the

Provodnikov, 29, is trained by the same guy, Freddie Roach, Pacquiao and he’s worked as a sparring partner for Pacquiao in the past.

Provodnikov is coming off a close 12 round unanimous decision loss to WBO welterweight champion Tim Bradley last March in a fight where he had Bradley hurt several times in the fight from big shots to the head. Provodnikov even had Bradley down in the last seconds of the fight, and had there been one more round, he likely would have finished Bradley off.

Roach might want to put extra big gloves on Provodnikov and tell him to take it easy on Pacquiao during the sparring because he could end up hurting him during their sessions. We don’t know how Pacquiao will react to taking hard head shots after his 6th round knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez last December.

Pacquiao was knocked out cold by a right hand from Marquez, and that kind of shot sometimes permanently ruins a fighter. Pacquiao doesn’t think he’ll have any problems coming back from the knockout, but we won’t know for sure once he’s in the ring. We might find out even sooner than his November 24th fight with Rios if Provodnikov hurts him in training camp.

Roach said recently that if he sees that Pacquiao doesn’t have it in training camp [i.e., if he starts getting flattened left and right by his sparring partners], he’ll tell Pacquiao he needs to hang up the gloves.

I doubt Pacquiao would retire even if he’s getting knocked about by Provodnikov and the other guys Roach puts in with him to get ready for the Rios fight. He’s not going to want to walk away from the $20 million paydays he gets for facing his promoter Bob Arum’s Top Rank stable fighters over and over again.

Pacquiao makes big bank for fighting Arum’s guys, and he only has to worry about fighting 3 or 4 of them over and over again. The problem is he’s 34 and he’ll soon be turning 35 in December, and he’s lost his last two fights against Bradley and Marquez.

It’s to the point where you can no longer see Pacquiao’s fights as sure thing wins. Now it’s a little more interesting because his opponents have a good chance of beating him, and I think Rios is a live underdog in this fight. I don’t see Rios as underdog.

To me, this is a toss-up fight. If Pacquiao can find the fountain of youth and avoid mixing it up with Rios, he could win, but he stands in front of Rios for any length of time then I see Pacquiao getting knocked out like he was against Marquez. Rios hits harder than Marquez and he can punch with big power with every shot he throws.

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