In the main event of HBO’s World Championship Boxing, top welterweights Timothy Bradley (30-0, 12 knockouts) and Ruslan Provodnikov (22-2, 15 knockouts)were set to battle in an effort to legitimize their standing in the division. Going into this bout there was no doubt that Bradley was carrying a massive chip on his shoulder. After a controversial win over Manny Pacquiao, Bradley has been forced to deal with the constant scrutiny and criticism that comes with being a now infamous figure in boxing. Luckily against the battle tested Provodnikov, Bradley knew that this was his chance to prove to his detractors that he is a real threat to the 147-lbs. division.
As soon as the first round got underway, Bradley began to out-box the plodding Provodnikov. To many fans, this was exactly how Bradley would look to defeat Provodnikov. To many’s surprise though, Bradley was immediately caught into a fire-fight against the relentless puncher. This style of closely-contested phone booth type fight proved to be Provodnikov’s bread and butter as he was able to land the much harder and overall more effective shots. This all-action style of fight carried through to the second, and it wasn’t until the third round where Bradley started to finally warm up and gain a real sense of his opponent”s capabilities.
Unfortunately for Bradley, things wouldn’t be going much smoother. After a fourth and fifth round that finally saw him effectively out-boxing and out-maneuvering the charging Russian, Bradley was stunned and almost stopped in the 6th-round after getting goaded into another fire fight with Provodnikov. With moments that saw him seemingly out on his feet, many doubted that Bradley would be able to continue on in such a concussed state. To many’s disbelief, Bradley not only managed to survive this brutal round, but would go on to survive close scare like this throughout the length of the fight.
For much of the later rounds Bradley managed to out-box Provodnikov and continue building a healthy lead on many of the judges score cards. Like everything however, nothing is as easy as it seems. Towards the later rounds, Provodnikov continued finding success with his swarming attack which led to his hurting of Bradley via body-short in the tenth, and scoring the sole knockdown against the champion during the fight. Alas, it proved to be too little, too late as Bradley had already developed a healthy lead in the judge’s scorecards from earlier in the fight. The judges scorecards awarded Timothy Bradley the victory on scoers of (114-113), (114-113), (115-112). Although one might not necessarily agree with just how close the final scores came out to be, fans were able to at least acknowledge two things after tonight’s fights: 1) Timothy Bradley is as tough as any champion in the sport today 2) Ruslan Provodnikov is a real threat in the welterweight division. It’s still too early to try and predict where Bradley and Provodnikov’s careers go from here, but after a performance like last night’s one must believe that both fan’s and big boxing networks will be willing to pay to see them in the ring again.