Welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley will face junior welterweight Ruslan Provodnikov at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, on March 16. At stake, Bradley’s WBO strap.
A pro since 2004, 29-year-old Bradley (29-0-0, 12 KOs) last fought in June 2012, defeating Manny Pacquiao via split decision. The consensus, one with which I’m in full agreement, is that Pacquaio was robbed of his WBO title. Indeed, the names of judges Duane Ford and C.J. Ross will forever live in boxing infamy, along with those of ref Ed Smith and judge George Kelly, who gave both nod and heavyweight title to Jack Sharkey in his bout with Max Schmeling back in ’32. And there are plenty of other such miscreants – the history of the Sweet Science is peppered with robberies.
Not to derogate Bradley. He’s scored wins over such worthies as Miguel Vazquez, Kendall Holt, Devon Alexander, and Joel Casamayor. But, regardless of the tale of the record book, he didn’t beat Pacquiao. And the one who knows this full well, who knows it best, is Bradley himself.
Twenty-nine-year-old Provodnikov (22-1-0, 15 KOs) entered the ring seven years ago. He fought twice last year, beating David Torres by sixth-round TKO in January and Jose Reynoso by second-round KO in June. The Russian suffered his sole defeat in 2011, decisioned by Mauricio Herrera.
Ring ranks Bradley eighth among welterweights and ninth on its pound-for-pound list, and has Provodnikov 10th as junior welter.
While I think Bradley would have been better served by agreeing to a rematch with Lamont Peterson, whom he decisioned in 2009, his match with Provodnikov has the makings of a good scrap. Bradley’s KO record, at 40%, is middling, while Provodnikov’s, at 65%, is considerably more impressive. That said, “Desert Storm” is the superior boxer, and I’m quite confident that it’s his hand that will be raised in victory on March 16. His 13th stoppage? I doubt it…but his 30th win.