The crowd for the Timothy Bradley (30-0 12 KO) vs. Ruslan Provodnikov (22-2 15KO) wasn’t exactly the biggest crowd ever, but it certainly was one of the most privileged as Bradley and Provodnikov engaged in one of the most violent and entertaining fights of the year so far. No one who witnessed this bout will soon forget it.
Bradley, who was making the first defense of his welterweight title, was expected to easily outclass the Russian fighter and was as high as an 8 to 1 favorite. However, Provodnikov quickly changed perceptions when he caught Bradley with a short, compact right hand that clearly stunned Bradley and caused him to fall. Referee Pat Russell failed to call a knockdown but Provodnikov proved his point: He didn’t come here to simply earn a paycheck.
The war continued in round two as Bradley started imposing an effective body attack and stick-and-move tactic. But, as soon as Bradley stood still, Provodnikov rocked him with right hands and left hooks that had the champion practically out on his feet.
Bradley managed to survive the initial onslaught and seemed to be on his way to outclassing the Russian-born fighter with his jab and strong hooks to the body.
By the sixth round, Bradley seemed to take control of the fight as Provodnikov looked arm weary from all the shots he threw in the first two rounds. Then, he badly hurt Bradley again late in the round and the two warriors exchanged shots as Bradley desperately tried to stand on his feet.
Bradley recovered well enough to take back control of the action until the 12th round, when Provodnikov did his best Rocky impression by finally scoring an official knockdown on Bradley with a series of hard left hooks to the chin and right hands. Once again, Bradley did enough to survive to the end of the bell.
The unbelievable action and drama of this fight can’t be fully experienced by reading about it. If you haven’t seen this fight, I implore you to change that.
Officially, Bradley won by scores of 114-113 (twice) and 115-112 but neither of these men are losers. The amount of heart and courage it takes for such a fight to happen makes both these men “must see”.
Ironically, Provodnikov probably made more fans in this loss than he ever did in his previous victories. As for Bradley, maybe the nightmare of getting no credit for his win over Manny Pacquiao last year can finally fade away for him. Some fans may again attack him for winning a close decision, but keep in mind that this fight was close. This isn’t anything like the clear decision victory for Pacquiao that instead went to Bradley.
In regards to the future plans for these men, isn’t it obvious? Let’s see World War II.