Timothy Bradley is getting his desired rematch of sorts, the rematch against Manny Pacquiao trainer, Freddie Roach, who will be administering the corner of his charge, the mauling Siberian bear, Ruslan Provodnikov. The anticipated fire fight will take place Saturday, March 16th at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
Bradley has regrettably been missing in action since his mega dustup last June at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas against Manny Pacquiao that created as much radioactive fall out as the Chernobyl Nuclear accident near 30 years previous. The ever game challenger to Pacquiao’s WBO title put in a gritty effort to hang on for the split decision in perhaps the most hotly disputed, high profile boxing result of the 3rd millennium.
He managed to finish the grueling, high paced bout on his feet before requiring immediate convalescence in a wheelchair with serious injuries to both his ankles and feet requiring rest and therapy, torned tendons and fractured bones being mentioned, but never verified. I never got the final updated injury report, but Bradley needed and took substantial time away from boxing to sort out his health and future career options.
The Timothy Bradley name instantaneously became infamous in spite of being a fine Ring ranked P4P fighter long under appreciated by the larger boxing public. He was savaged on antisocial internet and boxing websites as if he had made the final decision of the judges, even reporting death threats by email and snail mail, a real stain on boxing fans if true.
His promoter, Bob Arum, called for an investigation into the bout which, ahem…..drum roll….revealed nothing. The WBO honchos reviewed the fight with a panel of judges and awarded the decision to Manny Pacquiao which, ahem…..drum roll….meant nothing.
The highly radioactive Bradley rested on his laurel of thorns as Top Rank scrambled to find him another fight in advance of the anticipated rematch with Pacquiao. Nothing doing, Bradley wouldn’t budge. The opponents and the money just didn’t tick all the right boxes for him, so he waited, and waited, and waited some more. As Pfc Gomer Pyle was want to remind Sgt Carter, “Surprise, surprise,” and now Bradley’s a week away from his return against the aggressive punching, always swarming Ruslan Provodnikov. Both have been fighting in the 140 – 150 lb range for their careers. Both are at near identical 5-6 short stuff statures and 29 years of age, but they’ll be easy to tell apart in the ring, trust me.
The relatively unknown Provodnikov is Ring ranked in Bradley’s old junior welter division at #10, but lacks Bradley’s championship experience against top contenders. That along with being slower on the draw and a somewhat plodding face forward style makes him imminently beatable by Bradley on paper. The paper doesn’t record that Bradley pretty much ran out of steam in his intense bout against Pacquiao last year, meaning a high intensity pressure fighter in excellent condition could exploit that weakness late in the fight, especially if Bradley no longer has best use of his legs which have always been a key principle in his herky, jerky, jumping around style that has thus far kept him unbeaten.
The intangibles in this bout are intriguing enough. Freddie Roach has been baiting Bradley with some classics, ie; “When he feels Ruslan’s power, like when he felt Manny’s, it’s going to be a remake of Forrest Gump. ‘Run, Timmy, run!’ This isn’t about Ruslan finishing what Manny started. It’s about duplicating it.” Roach has been working with Provodnikov long enough to add some wrinkles for this bout, so clearly the Siberian is hungry enough to pull an upset since Roach doesn’t work with slackers. He’s been Pacquiao’s lead sparring partner for two camps now.
Speaking of hungry, Bradley says he goes vegan during his training camp to pare down his unusually cut, overdeveloped physique. His legs look like pipe cleaners compared to his bulging torso, perhaps a clue to his recent ankle injuries.
Bradley has said he wants to make a statement with a knockout of the very durable Siberian who has only lost one bout, and that by decision. Since Bradley has stepped up to championship level boxing in his last 9 fights, he’s only had a single knockout and that over the 40 year old Joel Casamayer.
We could have some fun here and note that Bradley looks like Tarzan and punches like Jane, but truth is he does have some hurtful enough pop to knock fighters down and change their fight strategy, so we’ll just have to see about all that.