Former world title challenger Ruslan Provodnikov holds split loyalties in the forthcoming welterweight championship bout between former stablemate Manny Pacquiao and ex-opponent Lucas Matthysse.
Pacquiao, who trained alongside his good friend Provodnikov under Freddie Roach at the Wild Card until 2015, is hoping to get back to winning ways on July 14 as the eight-weight legend battles the tough Argentinian in Kuala Lumpur.
Provodnikov left Roach to train with Joel Diaz on the back of a loss to Matthysse in April of that year but remains on good terms with ‘The Machine’ following a twelve-round war.
Speaking on the back of the pair announcing the encounter at a recent press conference in Malaysia, Provodnikov told WBN he found it difficult to choose between the pair.
“They are both my friends and I only wish them good luck,” Provodnikov exclusively told World Boxing News.
“I believe that Lucas deserves this fight and I also believe that Manny deserves more fights like this for his legacy.
“Of course, I know both of them as I sparred a lot with Manny and I fought Lucas. I know that stylistically it is going to be a great match up.
“I honestly think that the better-prepared man will win the fight.
“Manny will always be Manny and he has that little edge, but Lucas can crack badly so you never know as this is boxing.”
Asked whether he approved of Pacquiao prolonging his career as he approaches his 40th birthday at the end of this year, Provodnikov offered only positive words to his ex-training partner.
“I’m not the person who will give Manny any advice in his career,” pointed out Provodnikov.
“Manny is the best human being I ever met and he is the legend of the sport. He’s a great person and he deserves all the credit in the world.
“I will always love and respect him for everything that I’ve been through with him. I’m not sure why he’s continuing his career but if he decides that he wants to fight I’ll support him all the way and always wish him best of luck.”
On Pacquiao’s highly debated loss last summer, in which the Filipino Senator lost his WBO belt, Provodnikov was in agreement with most of those who witnessed the contest.
“I think – like most, that Manny won the fight.
“I don’t think there is much to say about it he just out-pointed and out-boxed Horn. The guy was so dirty, so there is not much to say about it
“I just think that Manny won the fight,” added Provodnikov.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay