SAN DIEGO, March 16, 2013 – Forget the outcome of Saturday’s fight between Timothy Bradley Jr. and Ruslan Provodnikov. It did more for the reputations of both men than the record reflects.
Since you probably weren’t watching, set your DVR now for the replay of the fight on HBO at 10:30 a.m., 4:45 p.m. or 11:30 p.m. Sunday, March 17. You’ll thank me later.
Bradley and Provodnikov’s showdown turned out to be a Fight of the Year contender witnessed by a fortunate audience of 2,000-plus elated spectators at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. This was the kind of fight fans dream about. From start to finish it was an action-packed brawl in which both men teetered on the brink of being knocked out.
Bradley (30-0, 9 KOs) remained undefeated, surviving what seemed a sure second round stoppage and beating a vicious 12th-round knockdown just before the bell to win a unanimous decision by a razor thin margin over unheralded Ruslan Provodnikov (22-2, 15 KOs) of Russia.
Judges Marty Denkin and Jerry Cantu had the bout scored 114-113 for Bradley. Judge Raul Caiz Sr. gave it to Bradley 115-112. Numerous observers and boxing writers saw it as a draw; a few called it for Provodnikov. Provodnikov thought he was robbed, reacting with disappointment when the results were announced.
The stage was set for drama, with Bradley trying to resurrect his career after his controversial split decision win over Manny Pacquiao, and Provodnikov trying to prove himself and get a little revenge on behalf of both trainer Freddie Roach and Pacquiao. Pacquiao worked with Provodnikov as a sparring partner at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, California in preparation for this fight.
In the early moments, it seemed to the shocked fans ringside Provodnikov would be successful. He turned the fight into a fast and furious exchange of wicked shots. Bradley decided to play this game and he nearly lost it. What appeared to be a knockdown in the first round was ruled a slip by referee Pat Russell.
Provodnikov had Bradley in huge trouble again at the end of round two. It was sheer will that kept Bradley on his feet. Russell could have stopped the fight in the final seconds of the round without criticism, but he let the fighters finish.
Bradley’s determination kept him on his feet in the fight until the end, into the final minute of the 12th round when he took a knee and somehow managed to get up and finish the fight. Superb conditioning served Bradley well, allowing him to recover, revert to boxing skills, rally and do damage to Provodnikov. He battered the Russian in the ninth round, and opened a cut over his eye, which got progressively worse through the fight.
Bradley won back a tremendous amount of respect from the fans for putting on this kind of a fan friendly fight, to his own detriment. But his victory came by way of the judges, which will be questioned, scrutinized, disputed and argued. The numbers are on Bradley’s side. Bradley landed 347 of 1,000 punches, versus 218 of 676 for Provodnikov. Bradley landed more punches in every category.
Bradley’s training and will got him through the fight where lesser fighters would have folded. Bradley seemed loopy during his post-fight interview, saying was nearly sure he had suffered a concussion during the second round beating by Provodnikov. “I think I’ve got a concussion, without a doubt I know I do … I’m dizzy right now,” he said.
“I gave it everything I had,” Bradley said. “Every ounce I had, I gave … The warrior instinct’s going to come in, heart, determination will to win. Even though I got rocked, I still fight hard.”
Bradley said Provodnikov hit harder than Manny Pacquiao. “He’s a warrior. He could beat any 140 or 147-pound fighter out there. He’s the real deal.”
The dismayed Provodnikov said after the fight, “You saw everything, everybody saw what I did in the ring. It’s up to the judges, but I know what I did to prove myself. Everybody saw it, I did not feel his punches. I didn’t feel his punches at all.”
Fans got to enjoy an incredible display of physical and mental fortitude. But these kind of fights can do long term damage to the athletes. Trainers Joel Diaz and Freddie Roach both considered pulling their athletes out at times during the fight to keep them from suffering permanent harm. Let’s hope this doesn’t turn out to be the case.
Both Bradley and Provodnikov deserve tremendous respect for their efforts tonight. The fight has revived Bradley’s career, and jump started Provodnikov’s ascent to the top tier of fighters. There were no real losers here except on paper.
On the televised undercard, Jessie Vargas of Las Vegas via Mexico (22-0, 9 KOs) held off a determined Wale Omotoso (23-1, 19 KOs) of Nigeria. This fight ended up being more action packed than expected, a worthy lead-in to the main event. Vargas recovered from a knockdown in the second round to win a unanimous decision, but the judges had it scored a little too generously for Vargas. But as with the first fight, fans got to see the kind of action from both fighters they will welcome seeing again.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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