Provodnikov-Algieri likely on tap

Ruslan Provodnikov's return to the ring on June 14 could come in a title defense against Chris Algieri. Chris Farina/Top Rank

The deal is not done yet but junior welterweight titlist Ruslan Provodnikov's first defense is probably going to be against Chris Algieri.

Initially, four names emerged as potential opponents for the always exciting Provodnikov to face on June 14 on HBO, although none would qualify as a "big" fight: Algieri, Hank Lundy, Antonio DeMarco and Thomas Dulorme.

DeMarco was cut from the list because HBO declined to approve him, a decision hard to disagree with. DeMarco's resume at junior welterweight is limited to two so-so wins since he moved up in weight. In his last fight at lightweight, he was hammered in a one-sided knockout loss on HBO by Adrien Broner.

Dulorme and Lundy were also eventually cut from the list. While Dulorme defeated Karim Mayfield on HBO last Saturday night, the fight was horrible as both fighters held way too much and Banner Promotions' Artie Pelullo, Provodnikov's promoter, didn't like the fight.

According to Pelullo, Freddie Roach, Provodnikov's trainer, reviewed video of the various possible opponents and also wasn't interested in Lundy, so he was also cut from consideration.

That left Algieri as the one opponent agreeable to Roach, Pelullo and HBO.

"So I'm talking to [Algieri promoter] Joe [DeGuardia] about putting the fight together," Pelullo said. "Joe and I have a good relationship. We're friends and we co-promote Demetrius Andrade together, so we can make a deal."

There is no set site yet for the card, but the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, N.Y., is one potential venue. It would make sense if Algieri is the opponent because he is a popular draw from the area.

"We're looking at a few different sites and that is just one of them," Pelullo said.

Russia's Provodnikov (23-2, 16 KOs) is coming off a big 2013. In March he moved up to welterweight and lost a decision to titleholder Timothy Bradley Jr. in what turned out to be the consensus fight of the year. In October, Provodnikov returned to junior welterweight and stopped Mike Alvarado in the 10th round in Alvarado's hometown of Denver to win a 140-pound world title. The June fight will be Provodnikov's first defense.

He would have liked to fight again sooner, but HBO, for reasons that remain a mystery, did not make his next fight much of a priority even though he is one of boxing's most exciting performers.

The televised undercard fight on June 14 likely will be Andrade (20-0, 13 KOs) in his first title defense against mandatory challenger Brian Rose (25-1-1, 7 KOs) of England.