By: Marc Livitz: The city of angels has probably been more than a refreshing change for Ruslan Provodnikov. When the sheer differences in climate between Los Angeles and Beryozovo, Siberia, Russia are considered, there’s no contest to be had. One locale is constant sunshine, while the other rarely sees temperatures rise beyond the level of freezing. Provodnikov (22(15)-1) will take his first steps into the ring as a welterweight on the sixteenth of March when he meets WBO champion Timothy Bradley at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA. HBO’s "World Championship Boxing will televise the bout live.
The undefeated Bradley (29(12)-0) perhaps gained notoriety for all the wrong reasons last summer when he outpointed Manny Pacquiao for the WBO title. Only the smallest of fractions believe that the three ringside judges scored the fight correctly, which was widely seen as a near shutout for the Filipino superstar. Bradley suffered a foot injury in the fight and was out of action for a while. He had a scheduled December bout in Florida fall through the cracks for various issues, but he is now set on making a statement when the bell rings in less than two weeks’ time. Provonikov has won four of his last five contests by way of knockout, yet "Desert Storm" Bradley is not too concerned.
"Every fight is important and I’m looking to do some damage to this guy. The longer he stays in, the more confidence he will build. Each fight is the chance for me to make a statement. I’m not worried about his power. He needs to be worried about me. I know exactly how to get this guy out of there. The speed is still there and we’ve been working a lot on my technique and turning over our shots. That’s one thing I may have lacked in the past", said the Palm Springs, California fighter earlier this afternoon on an international media conference call.
Bradley’s trainer, Joel Diaz shares his fighter’s opinions and sees similarities between the styles of their Siberian opponent and the previously faced Pacquiao. Interestingly as well, Diaz somewhat has a contest of his own on the sixteenth, as Ruslan Provodnikov has had Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach in his corner for his last three contests.
"Tim does what I teach him. He’ll push the fight back at Ruslan. He’s a come forward fighter and much easier to hit than Manny Pacquiao. Ruslan’s trainer, Freddie Roach is the least of my concerns. He likes to play mind games, but it won’t do him any good. On March 16, you’ll see a different and more explosive Tim Bradley."
June 9, 2012 may have turned out to be a night to forget for Bradley. Although he officially beat Manny Pacquiao, most of the sporting world begged, if not pleaded to differ with the result and felt a stain was left upon the sweet science. The southern California fighter did what he could and moved on and did not look back. He felt the wrath of the media, disgruntled fans worldwide and everything but self doubt.
"The Pacquiao fight made me grow as a fighter. It allowed me to know who and what is important in my career. What people think of me is not important. Stop reading all this garbage that people are writing about me. I got no credit whatsoever after the last bout. I got death threats, insults at myself and my family and many other things thrown at me.
“Everyone else can do and say what they want and they don’t know me. No one knows what I go through to prepare for a fight. I’m the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. I didn’t pay much attention to the threats because I knew people were just mad at the result."
Likewise, Bradley himself felt to be on the lesser side of justice when a rematch with Pacquiao never materialized. Although an independent panel of five judges reviewed the June bout and determined that Pacquiao did indeed win the bout, Timothy paid no mind to their decision and even had his day in his own personal sun when Manny Pacquiao was savagely knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez last December in Las Vegas. Said Bradley, "I laugh at that. Were there five judges that looked at Pacquiao’s loss to Marquez in their third fight? When Pacquiao was knocked out by Marquez, there was one side of me which said, "that could happen to anyone", while the other was saying, "that’s what you get.""
Freddie Roach had to know that at some point the questions he took today would be more about his prized pupil (Manny Pacquiao) and less about his Siberian fighter who is set to fight in California next weekend. Today was Freddie’s birthday, so perhaps he was a bit more eager than usual to field any and all queries.
"He’s (Provodnikov)becoming a better fighter all the time. He knows the art of boxing and we’re doing what we have to do. We’ll be setting traps and cutting off the ring."
Tim Bradley’s trainer, Joel Diaz recently stated that Roach may have lost his passion and drive for the sport of boxing in an effort to turn his focus towards more fame outside of the gym. Roach didn’t seem to be affected by Joel’s opinions as he commented, "He (Diaz) doesn’t know me. He doesn’t see me in the gym working with the fighters. We’ll see on the sixteenth just who is the better coach."
Ruslan himself feels ready to go as a welterweight. "I’ll be comfortable at 147. It’s a good weight for me. I don’t know what my plans will be after this fight, but I think I can beat Bradley at any weight class", said the Siberian boxer.
Freddie Roach heartedly agreed. "He (Provodnikov) was killing himself to make 140. The chance game up to move up to 147. He’s within striking distance of that weight right now and I like him better at this weight. This is our fourth fight together."
The respective trainers summed up their opinions and assured those on the line that their fighters would not disappoint come fight night.
Joel Diaz stated, "Tim hasn’t had a bad day in sparring. He’s ready and he could fight this weekend. He doesn’t take anyone lightly. Ruslan is a difficult fight and we know he’s been preparing. I’ve been studying his fight. He has some power in fists, but we’ve made some adjustments as well and developed some more power on his own. Don’t be surprised if this fight doesn’t go the distance."
Freddie Roach added, "His (Bradley) style is very good for his opponent and he’s going to see some things that he’s never seen before. We have a few more days of sparring. We’re ready to go. This is the biggest fight of his life. As for the result between Tim and Manny, it’s over and done. There’s nothing we can do about it."
Ruslan Provodnikov agreed with his trainer as he added, "I’ve heard that Bradley has been doing some great sparring, but my training has been better than ever. I’m thankful for the chance to do this. This will be a great fight and no one will forget it."