By Marc Livitz: Tim Bradley never wanted nine months of inactivity through no fault of his own. Whether or not he did or did not indeed best Manny Pacquiao last June is left to pugilistic history. Still, Timothy "Desert Storm" Bradley of Palm Springs, California sunk into a bit of a hole before he finally acknowledged that the show must go on. He and his family received death threats, taunts and consistent jabs from the media. Tonight was his chance to shine once again. The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calfornia, which isn’t much of a drive from Bradley’s hometown would be his showcase to put his name back on the map. He managed to do it.
A lead foot is by far inadvisable on the road, yet a pair of lead feet could save your life in the ring.
Tim’s opponent would be Ruslan Provodnikov, originally from Beryozovo, Russia and now calling the famous Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, California his home base. Bradley carried his undefeated record into the fight, while Provodnikov had but a single loss on his ledger. The first two rounds easily went to Provodnikov, as the Siberian fighter walked through the peppering jabs of Bradley and had the southern California fighter out on his feet in the first after solid right after solid right. Tim Bradley’s mettle would surely be tested this evening.
Tim recovered in the third and fired back. Ruslan did close to nothing and Bradley easily took the period to his credit. He landed multiple left jabs in the fourth, which at times were followed by counter rights from his Siberian cum Californian foe. Bradley used smaller, "tip-tap" style jabs to keep Provodnikov at bay in the fifth, but the sixth would beckon the fighting spirit from "Desert Storm" Bradley once again. Ruslan squared up at times in the period and landed hard rights once again to close the round as the two contestants exchanged shots to the closing bell. Dazed and disoriented, Tim made his way back to his corner.
Bradley seemed to know better than to get too close to his opponent in the seventh as he used his jab as well as the entirety of the ring to his advantage. Provodnikov sought to increase the output level and urged Tim to bring the fight onward. He landed a meaningful left hook to Bradley’s head with about twenty seconds to spare in the round, however Tim scored with an important left-right combination to end the period. He used the ring once again in round eight and stayed clear of the corner. Ruslan’s face was now swollen and red thanks to Tim’s constant jabbing and follow-through rights.
The left eye of Provodnikov opened up in round nine. He kept coming forward and was looking to land a decisive bomb to close the show. There were no headbutts from Bradley which have gained him pugilistic infamy over the years. Tim knew how to fight on the inside and how to keep his distance otherwise. Near the end of the tenth round, a left hook from Ruslan sent Tim across the ring.
Provodnikov was the busier of the two to start round eleven, yet Bradley continued to move and started to go to the body. The two contestants slugged it out to close the period. Bradley was doing more and perhaps he was hoping for the eyes of the judges to recognize this.
Ruslan was looking for the knockout and he almost got it. He had to settle instead for a knockdown. With just thirty seconds to go in the twelfth and final round, another hard right from Provodnikov staggered Bradley and nearly sent him to the floor once again. Tim wisely reached out and held on for dear life. Another hard right sent Bradley to a knee with just seconds to spare, yet the WBO welterweight champion made it to his feet and made his way out this evening.
The inexplicably sparse crowd at the Home Depot Center was treated to perhaps an early fight of the year candidate. Ruslan Provodnikov showed he belonged, while Timothy Bradley proved why he holds the belt and more importantly the sheer guts and will of a champion. The three ringside judges unanimously rewarded Bradley’s near doubling of punches thrown and activity level with the following scores: 114-113(x2) and 115-112. Bradley retains his WBO welterweight crown and stays unbeaten at (30-0,12 KO’s), while the tough and hopefully now feared Provodnikov falls to (22-2, 15 KO’s).
March 16, 2013