Tim Bradley following his victory over Ruslan Provodnikov on Saturday night (Photo credit: Chris Farina – Top Rank)
By Chris Robinson
On Saturday night, inside of the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, Tim Bradley successfully defended his WBO welterweight crown with a unanimous decision victory over Russia’s Ruslan Provodnikov.
Improving his record to 30-0 with 12 knockouts, Bradley saw scorecards of 115-112 and 114-113 twice go to his favor but the tallies hardly told the tale of the fight.
This past June, Bradley seemed fortunate to escape with a split-decision victory over then-champion Manny Pacquiao after their fight inside of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The aftermath of that bout was hard for Bradley to cope with, as he admitted that the criticism, with some people even going as far as to issue death threats, helped to send him into a slight depression.
During the lead up to the Provodnikov clash, I spoke with promising lightweight prospect Omar Figueroa, who was then serving as one of Bradley’s chief sparring partners for the fight.
Figueroa insisted to me that Bradley was focusing more on his power for this particular match, and perhaps that’s why he was in so much danger against Provodnikov in the early rounds.
Typically known as a sharp puncher with only modest power, Bradley elected to go chest to chest with Provodnikov early. In return, the man nicknamed “Desert Storm” was greeted with crushing right hands and appeared to be severely dazed by some of the blows.
It even looked as though referee Pat Russell would have been well within his right to charge Bradley with a knockdown, as he was both on the canvas and later sent spiraling towards the ropes.
To his credit, Bradley would dig down deep and change the momentum of the fight by boxing and picking his spots against an onrushing Provodnikov.
And although the drama died down just a bit, the action was still very tense. In the twelfth and final round, Bradley again found himself in trouble, with an official knockdown going against him in the waning seconds.
Surprisingly, despite his spirited effort, Bradley was greeted with some booing form the crowd who surely felt that Provodnikov had done enough to claim the win.
While Bradley certainly showed some defensive lapses in this bout, he also displayed a great will and ability to adapt that makes him one of the premier fighters in the game.
Bradley definitely has some options to look forward to, whether it be a rematch with Pacquiao down the road, a high-profile clash with Juan Manuel Marquez, or a showdown with the winner of the Brandon Rios-Mike Alvarado rematch on March 30th.
Stay tuned for more.
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Chris Robinson can be reached at Trimond@aol.com and www.HustleBoss.com