Top Rank Show Thrills the Crowd
Champion Timothy Bradley received worldwide criticism and scorn after his shocking victory over beloved icon Manny Pacquiao.
In his return to the ring Saturday night at the Home Depot Center in Carson, the SoCal fighter once again sent shockwaves through the boxing universe. We got more shock and awe from “Desert Storm” Bradley, who faced off against Ruslan Provodnikov in this WBO title defense promoted by Top Rank and Banner Promotions and airing live on HBO. In a city known for its earthquakes, consider Carson the epicenter last night as Bradley vs. Provodnikov shook up the crowd, shocking everyone watching live in person or live on cable.
Snap, crackle and plenty of pop–this one had it all.
While Bradley (30-0, 12 KOs) is not known for his knockout power, he is known for his strict discipline, boxing skills. ‘Coral Sports‘ offers some great odds for upcoming fights so make sure you check them out!
Last night, the Cathedral City fighter proved that and more. And yet, once again in a defeat of his rival, the crowd had a mixed reaction when the official scores were read by ring announcer Lupe Contreras.
Watching boxing live in an outdoor arena is always a great experience for me. The sounds of those in the stands, the energy of the crowd and the echo of the punches is second to none. And you know it’s a good fight when after spending hours in the stadium, I couldn’t wait to catch a replay on HBO. This main event was truly a thrill fest.
In an ultra close battle between the two, Bradley got the win even though he was wobbled by Provodnikov (22-2, 15 KOs) and knocked down in the last round. In the opening frame, a knockdown (in the eyes of many) was declared a slip by referee Pat Russell. HBO’s Jim Lampley later stated that if that slip had been ruled a knockdown, the bout would’ve been a draw. It was that close.
This was a welterweight clash that delivered. It offered drama, action, blood, guts, glory–and yes, controversy.
The Russian slugger was coming up in weight; Bradley was returning to the ring after suffering foot injuries in his Pacquiao fight.
Critics and naysayers mocked this matchup saying it could be an “easy” fight for Timmy, who reportedly turned down Lamont Peterson and Yuriorkis Gamboa as opposition. But Team Provodnikov didn’t get that memo as Ruslan rocked the champ from pillar to post in rounds one and two, shocking the Bradley fans and proving that boxing is, arguably, the most dramatic sport out there.
All it takes is one punch to change everything. And the threat of that element is always there.
In the outdoor arena, the crowd was alive and on edge from the first frame. The fighters, both 29, went toe to toe in 12 rounds of punishing shots, wicked left hooks and piston-like jabs (as Bradley expertly peppered the eye of Provodnikov).
Ruslan (trained by Freddie Roach) found success when slugging it out with Bradley (coached by Joel Diaz) and trapping him against the ropes. They always say “don’t hook with a hooker” but Bradley engaged in a firefight with Provodnikov. Their exchanges were thrown with bad intentions and the first two rounds threw Bradley off his game plan. But digging deep, Timmy (who later told HBO’s Max Kellerman he was “concussed” early in the fight) bounced back after looking woozy and wobbly.
The champ scored when he stuck to his boxing skills, showcasing his speed and accuracy he is known for. Big rights from the bomb-throwing Russian surprised everyone in the audience, especially Bradley.
Suddenly, we all wondered if an upset was in store? Would this fight be over quickly? Then as the minutes ticked by, the thought was: Would Bradley recover? And then once the champion seemingly gained his senses, would Provodnikov be punched out?
Like any good drama, there were highs and lows, twists and turns in this match that was at times a brawl, at times a boxing clinic and at times a battle of wits between the two boxers. And in the final frame, Ruslan shocked everyone once again with another knockdown (this one officially called by the referee) in the closing seconds of the very last round. Was it enough for a Team Provodnikov victory…Or would Team Bradley remain undefeated?
Before this weekend’s matchup, Bradley had addressed the critics and haters by saying with confidence and conviction that after this fight “you will respect me.”
After suffering death threats, weight gain and disdain of the boxing universe for the Pacquiao decision, the Palm Springs pug took matters into his own hands. He answered the naysayers with his fists, his heart, his will and his true grit as he toughed it out over his Russian foe in a very close, competitive fight that has everyone still buzzing.
While the official scorecards will go down as a unanimous decision for Bradley with scores of 114-113 (Marty Denkin and Jerry Cantu) and 115-112 (Raul Caizz Sr.), it can also be declared a “morale victory” for both fighters. For Timmy, he earned more respect from the fans with his gutsy performance after being on shaky ground in the first couple of rounds and the last round. For Ruslan, he gained a zillion more fans for his mano y mano slugfest. At the final bell, Beryozovo’s Provodnikov collapsed in joy, thinking he did enough to pull off a victory. He opened and closed the fight stunning the champ, but in the judges eyes’ Bradley outboxed him in the middle rounds. According to the stats, “Desert Storm” did prevail with punches landed, punches thrown and power shots delivered. Before the bout began, I saw Timmy raise his hands to the high heavens when he was announced to the crowd. And after 36 minutes of heroics from both athletes, it was Bradley’s hand raised in glory.
And the faces of the two gladiators said it all. Both showed battle scars.
Bradley was battered and tested in this war; Provodnikov’s eye was swollen and shut after tasting the leather of his nemesis.
But these two boxing stars, both 29 years old, also wowed the crowd, giving fans their money’s worth and then some.
After 12 rounds of all-out action, Bradley remains the champ, remains unbeaten on his ledger. And although Provodnikov’s official record will now read two losses, he did not come out a “loser” of this fight–it really was a morale victory for the Russian. After the decision was read, the audience booed, many shaking their heads in disbelief.
Another controversial decision for Tim Bradley? Showing a granite chin, a steel jaw and a heart of a true champ, he prevailed with the decision.
Another loss for Ruslan Provodnikov? Showing a fighter’s spirit, a puncher’s ferocity and the heart of a true warrior, he IS the “Rocky Balboa” to Bradley’s Apollo Creed.
Two fighters who brought it in the ring. What’s not to love?
If you love boxing, this WBO collision was great drama any way you look at it.
Ring Photos by Marlene Marquez