<
>

Provodnikov to make defense in June

LAS VEGAS -- Junior welterweight titlist Ruslan Provodnikov had a memorable 2013. Although he lost a close decision in a welterweight title bout to Timothy Bradley Jr., it was the consensus fight of the year, and he rebounded for a 10th-round knockout of Mike Alvarado in another slugfest to win a 140-pound world title.

Provodnikov hoped to kick off 2014 against another marquee opponent. A rematch with Bradley, Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez or Brandon Rios were on his wish list, so he could not hide his disappointment when his first defense on June 14 was finalized this week against undefeated but largely unknown Chris Algieri, a popular ticket seller from Huntington, N.Y.

"I am very, very disappointed about that," Provodnikov said through translator and manager Vadim Kornilov on Friday inside the media center for the Pacquiao-Bradley II at the MGM Grand. "For me, the best option for my next fight, considering that Bradley is fighting Pacquiao again, it would have been Marquez. Also, Brandon Rios. I really wanted that fight [with Rios] if it wasn't going to be Marquez.

"Obviously, I was looking for a different type of an opponent and I am a bit disappointed that I am not fighting some of the opponents I wanted, but I am looking forward to June 14th and getting back in the ring."

Provodnikov-Algieri will headline an HBO "Boxing After Dark" card at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. In the televised co-feature, junior middleweight titlist Demetrius Andrade (20-0, 13 KOs) will make his first defense against mandatory challenger Brian Rose (25-1-1, 7 KOs) of England.

On Thursday, Artie Pelullo of Banner Promotions, Provodnikov's promoter, issued a press release announcing the fight and that it would take place at Long Island's Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. -- a few minutes from Algieri's hometown -- with a news conference scheduled there on Tuesday. However, on Friday, Pelullo moved the bout to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn when its management made a better offer to serve as the host.

Now, the kickoff news conference is scheduled to take place Wednesday at the Barclays Center, which has an exclusive deal with Golden Boy Promotions to promote all boxing events in the arena. But Pelullo said that when the Barclays Center people went to Golden Boy about the Provodnikov-Algieri fight that they were "gracious" about allowing the event to take place there. Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer confirmed to ESPN.com that was the case.

Pelullo said he understood Provodnikov's disappointment about facing an opponent not as well-known as others mentioned as possibilities, especially Rios, the former lightweight titlist who lost a lopsided decision at welterweight to Pacquiao in November.

"The problem is we couldn't find a bigger name to make weight," Pelullo said. "We're talking about Rios. We would have fought Rios with no problem, but Rios couldn't make 140 pounds. As much as he said he could make weight, his manager [Cameron Dunkin] and promoter [Top Rank's Bob Arum] would not sign a document because they didn't believe he could make 140. That's the reason that fight didn't get made. We hope Ruslan does well in this fight, and then we're back in the mix for Pacquiao, Bradley or Marquez.

"You don't have a big fight all the time, but Ruslan knows he has to be at the top of his game for everybody. He'll go after Algieri like he did against Alvarado and Bradley and then, hopefully, we get a big fight."

Provodnikov (23-2, 16 KOs), 30, of Russia, who is trained by Freddie Roach, was also disappointed that Marquez opted to face Alvarado -- whom he beat -- on May 17, rather than fight him.

"I understand that's part of the business. I understand why Marquez made that decision," Provodnikov said. "He knows that there can be a bigger fight next [against the Pacquiao-Bradley II winner]. He doesn't need to fight a crazy guy like I am, so he would rather fight Alvarado.

"Overall, I think it's the easier path of resistance for him. Right now, Alvarado is an easier fight."

The 30-year-old Algieri (19-0, 8 KOs) had hoped for his first shot at a world title to be on Long Island, which he called "a dream come true."

Algieri put himself into the picture for the fight by outpointing Emmanuel Taylor on ESPN2 in February. Taylor was the one HBO was interested in going into the fight. Algieri is excited to be getting the opportunity.

"Initially, I didn't think I would get it," said Algieri, who will train in Las Vegas with head trainer Keith Trimble. "There were other names in the mix for him to fight but as they dropped off and it got closer to the date and New York City came up as a possible site, I felt very good.

"This has always been how I've envisioned it as a pro. The right fights at the right time and continue to grow. For me it's a marathon and getting this opportunity is the last third of the marathon."

As for being a heavy underdog to Provodnikov, Algieri said he likes it that way.

"It's great to be overlooked by Provodnikov and others," he said. "There will be much more of a response when I win. I truly plan on shocking the world on June 14th."

Said Pelullo: "Algieri is getting the chance like Ruslan got his chance. I think he'll be prepared. He knows this is his opportunity of a lifetime."

Andrade, a 26-year-old 2008 U.S. Olympian from Providence, R.I., who trains in Atlanta, won a vacant 154-pound title in November, surviving a first-round knockdown to win a split decision against Vanes Martirosyan.

"It's gonna be a beautiful night for the A-Team," Andrade said. "I expect Brian Rose to come to this fight prepared and ready and whatever goes on in the ring, he has the tools to adapt to it. But that's where I come. I train extremely hard and am doing everything I need to do to keep this belt and let everyone know I am the next star baby of the 154-pound division.

"Brian 'The Lion' Rose, I'm gonna let him know I'm the tamer. I'm gonna tame that boy. I'm gonna tame that lion and let him know he's a cub."

Rose (25-1-1, 7 KOs), 29, of England, is riding an 11-fight winning streak, including a split decision win in his last fight against Javier Maciel on Oct. 26 in the title eliminator that got him the shot at Andrade.

"I'm delighted that [promoter] Eddie Hearn has got me this shot," Rose said. "It's a dream come true for me and something that I have wanted since I starting boxing at the age of 9. It's going to be a great experience for me and my trainer, Bobby [Rimmer], to go out to America and compete for the world title. I'm bringing that belt back to the UK.

"Andrade is no doubt a world-class fighter. He's got the title and an impressive amateur pedigree. But I've got experience on my side. I've had more fights and more 12-rounders. I've been in with better and tougher opponents so this fight doesn't and won't faze me. On June 14, I will prove my critics wrong once again. I'm going to return as a world champion."