By Dan Rafael of espn.com
Promoter Artie Pelullo has two significant fighters worthy of HBO’s airtime and support, all-action former junior welterweight titlist Ruslan Provodnikov and unbeaten junior middleweight titleholder Demetrius Andrade, a former U.S. Olympian and potential pound-for-pound level fighter.
Yet Pelullo has been pushing a boulder uphill when it comes to securing a fall date for either of them, a surprise given that HBO has aired Provodnikov’s last three fights and Andrade’s last two.
Provodnikov’s first appearance on the network resulted in the 2013 fight of the year against Timothy Bradley Jr. followed by his title-winning knockout of Mike Alvarado in another barn burner and then June’s disputed loss to Chris Algieri in another good fight.
Andrade won his title on the network in November, outpointing Vanes Martirosyan in November, and then looked sensational drilling mandatory challenger Brian Rose on Provodnikov’s June undercard.
Pelullo is making other plans for Provodnikov (23-3, 16 KOs), “The Siberian Rocky” and one of boxing’s most exciting fighters.
“I’ve spoken to HBO, and we were unable to find a fight for Ruslan before the end of the year here in America, so his next fight will probably will be in late November or early December in Russia,” Pelullo told ESPN.com. “It’s unfortunate that we were unable to put a match together in America that met all of our needs. Hopefully, a big fight will open up in 2015 for Ruslan on HBO.”
Pelullo said he tried to work with Top Rank to make several fights but was rebuffed on every opponent: Bradley for a rematch, titleholder Jessie Vargas, Brandon Rios and Diego Chaves.
“I reached out to Top Rank to make one of those fights, any one of them, and Top Rank had no interest in putting any of them in with Ruslan Provodnikov. I spoke to [Top Rank’s] Bob Arum and Carl Moretti and there was no interest.”
Andrade (21-0, 14 KOs), who is ready to fight as soon as possible, according to Paul Andrade, his father and trainer, might have better luck than Provodnikov. Pelullo, who co-promotes Andrade with Joe DeGuardia, continues to work with HBO executive Peter Nelson to find him a fall fight.
Pelullo is not limiting the potential fight to a junior middleweight title defense, either. With Peter Quillin vacating his middleweight belt and avoiding mandatory challenger Matt Korobov (for a career-high payday), Pelullo has petitioned the WBO to allow Andrade — the WBO’s junior middleweight titleholder — to face Korobov for the vacant title.
“I’ve petitioned them to do the same thing they did with Mikey Garcia when he petitioned the WBO in the exact same situation,” Pelullo said.
When Garcia was stripped of the WBO featherweight belt last year for failing to make weight for a defense against Juan Manuel Lopez, Top Rank, his promoter, petitioned the WBO to make him the mandatory in the next division up the scale so he could face junior lightweight titlist Rocky Martinez. The WBO agreed, and Garcia knocked Martinez out to win the belt.
WBO president Paco Valcarcel told ESPN.com the request is being considered. It should be an easy decision to make.
Andrade, who has followed the rules by making weight, deserves the same consideration given to Garcia in the exact same situation a year ago and be allowed to face Korobov — another Top Rank fighter — for the vacant middleweight belt.