Timothy Bradley (right) and Rusian Provodnikov dropped bombs on each other for 12 rounds in what may end up as the fight of the year. Photo by Jae C. Hong/Associated Press
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor
Timothy Bradley has had a tough nine months. After winning a controversial decision over Manny Pacquiao, Bradley's name was pretty much dragged through the mud. Just about everybody thought that Pacquiao was robbed in one of the worst decisions of all time, and what should have been a defining moment for Bradley was one of the worst things that could have happened to his career.
This past Saturday night, at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Bradley took 12 rounds of punishment that may have equaled the previous nine months. The result was a hard fought victory in what may have been the fight of the year.
Rusian Provodnikov threw bomb after bomb to Bradley's head. He had Bradley out on his feet in the first, second, and sixth round, and he finally put Bradley down to the canvas in the 12th round. It can be said that Bradley was saved by the bell, because when he finally got up after the knockdown the fight ended.
But for all of the abuse that Bradley took from Provodnikov, he gave it right back, especially when he was hurt. There were several moments where Provodnikov had Bradley in trouble, and it looked like Bradley was on his way out, but instead he found the heart to not hold on and weather the storm, but to fight back and launch counter strikes. He just kept throwing punches, and connecting on a lot of them.
Bradley showed a warrior's mentality, as he had the heart of a champion that would not quit, or run away from his attacker. For a good portion of the bout, even when Bradley was hurt, it was like they were fighting in a phone booth, as the two fighters stood right in front of each other and fired big time shots.
Outside of the four rounds where Provodnikov hurt Bradley, Bradley dominated the other eight rounds, which led to his victory. Provodnikov proved just as tough, as he took a massive amount of power shots from Bradley, and he just kept coming forward. At one point Provodnikov's trainer, Freddie Roach, was going to stop the fight because of the punishment that Provodnikov was taking.
One difference in the fight was Bradley's ability to make adjustments. He is not a great puncher, and he is not a great defensive fighter. But he is a great athlete, which allows him to make the proper mid-fight adjustments, and coupled with the amount of heart that he displayed, it is tough to take the guy out. Pacquiao is a big time puncher, but he was unable to take Bradley out nine months ago, which sent that fight to the scorecards.
Bradley won the fight on all three score cards, winning 115-112, 114-113, and 114-113. But again, there was a slight controversy. In the first round Bradley went down to his knees after taking some tough shots, but the referee did not rule it a knockdown. His fall came a few seconds after a few big shots, so the referee ruled that it was a slip, but replays showed that he was off balance due to punches landed. If that was ruled a knockdown, the round would have been 10-8 in favor of Provodnikov, making the bout 113-113 on two of the scorecards, making the decision a majority draw (Bradley would have still be ahead on the third scorecard).
After the fight Provodnikov felt that he should have won the fight, saying that he never felt any of Bradley's punches and that Bradley felt many of his. But looking at their faces, it looked like Provodnikov took more punishment as both of his eyes were swollen and he was bleeding from above one eye. And factor in that Roach was considering stopping the fight because of all of the punishment that Bradley was dishing out, it was clear that Provodnikov was not robbed.
However a viewer reacts to the decision, there is no question that this was a great fight, and it could go down as the fight of the year, as both of these guys stood in front of each other and punched it out.