THE WAR - Russian Roulette Win For Bradley
Where do you start when a fight has it all?. Defending WBO Welterweight King Tim Bradley showed the kind of guts that make fighters great, In fact there were numerous references to Evander Holyfield and Arturo Gatti as Bradley came through more than a few rough moments to defeat tough guy Ruslan Provodnilov over twelve rounds at the Home Depot Centre in Carson California. Those references made by the HBO team were high praise for Bradley as Holyfield and Gatti were Ultimate warriors in the boxing world. It was those warrior instincts early in the fight then right at the end that secured the victory for Bradley as he admitted that "Provodnikov was the first opponent that has really rocked him". High praise for Provodnikov from a man that has shared the ring with Superstar Manny Pacquiao.
Before the fight had taken place the general conscientious was that Bradley should win quite easy on points. Basically a wide points decision against a guy stepping up from 140 and had not fought at the same level as the champion. The only question on Bradley part was his long lay off (9 months). Well to every body's surprise this fight surpassed expectations as both guys engaged in war that resulted in both guys being beaten up, one of them knocked down and both guys close to being stopped by their own corners.
The War started as early in the first where Bradley came out boxing spearing his jab as the Russian walked forward pressuring the champion. A big right clearly hurt Bradley as both guys went at it. Provodnikov stunned the champion a few more times in the round before late in the Round Provodnikov was unlucky not to be credited with a knockdown as another looping right hurt Bradley and as the champion tried to clinch he fell to the ground. Referee Pat Russell thought it was a slip. The second was a Provodnikov round, maybe even a 10-8 as again he hurt Bradley numerous times. Fights have been stopped for less, a good point made by the HBO team showing the fight in the States. Bradley just couldn't get out of the way of the right hand. Provodnikov's left hook was also causing Bradley mayhem as he was battered to the ropes. The upset looked imminent.
Bradley responded in the third by boxing rings round his Russian opponent who looked passive. Could Provodnikov have punched himself out??. It looked like it as Bradley began to batter the body slowing Provodnikov even more.. For the next two rounds the action was the same with Bradley now fully recovered boxing beautifully, moving well confusing the on rushing Russian. I gave Provodnilov the sixth as a big left hook hurt Bradley again late in the round. Provodnikov went for the kill but found Bradley matching the leather thrown by the Russian. The harder shots though were landed by the Russian. Even fight on my card at this stage 57-57.
The next four rounds saw Bradley use his skills to totally dominate Provodnilov. The Russian was only having sporadic success as Bradley was simply to fast landing at will with the jab then moving to the body hitting Provodnikov with right and left hooks. Provodnikov's trainer during the break has said he was going to stop the fight as his man was taking too much punishment. Bradley's trainer had said the same a few rounds earlier as he recognised his man was hurt but also not following his instructions.
Round eleven was a close one that could have went either way. Both guys started by slugging before Bradley went in his bike picking his shots better again. Provodnikov was having success too as his big right hand was landing again stunning the champion a few times through the round. I scored for Provodnikov as his shots had more effect. The twelfth was a cracker. Bradley was ahead on the cards and began by throwing that jab to keep the Russian away. Mid way through the round the champion walked onto a left hook. Bradley was hurt again but worse was to come as a massive right hand followed by a barrage finally planted Bradley on the deck. There was less than ten seconds left in the round, i bet many were thinking is this another Chavez - Taylor fight where the guy knocked down was ahead in the fight only to be stopped by the referee?. Luckily for Bradley Pat Russell gave the champion the chance to show he was OK by letting Bradley walk forward to prove his legs were fine. They were, the fight ended to huge cheers and the fight went to the judges.
All three judges scored in favour of the champion. It was the probably the right call although the first round should have been a 10-8 Provodnikov round. If the two judges who scored 114-113 for Bradley had taken the extra point away from Bradley then the fight would have been a draw. The other judge scored for Bradley 115-112 for the unanimous decision. A great fight that was unexpected although many press and fans would like to see this one again.
Fight Score Blog