After the controversy surrounding his win over Manny Pacquiao, Tim Bradley felt he had something to prove going into his next fight.
His opponent, Ruslan Provodnikov, felt the same. Despite coming from one of the best gyms around (Roach used him to prepare Pacquiao for his first fight with Bradley), this was far and away his biggest challenge ever. What's more, the boxing world had already counted him out as a serious contender--the Siberian slugger was being called a comeback fight for Bradley, a stepping stone to get the champion over in the eyes of boxing fans who felt betrayed by his title win.
Well, the bout certainly won Bradley back the respect he had lost in the Pacquiao fight, but not for the reasons expected. Bradley came out hard from the first bell and paid the price, Provodnikov hurting him repeatedly in the first and second rounds. His legs rubbery and his eyes dazed, Bradley rallied for an inspirational comeback, outboxing Provodnikov for the majority of the middle rounds. Bradley looked to be running away with the fight altogether, when a tired Provodnikov hurt him badly and dropped him in the final round.
It made Provodnikov a star, and it proved that Tim Bradley really is a champion caliber fighter--he reportedly slurred his speech for two months after this bout. But will his toughness and will be enough in the rematch with Pacquiao? Rewatch this instant classic fight in full right here on Bloody Elbow.
Join us on Bloody Elbow for Pacquiao vs. Bradley II results, discussion, and live fight coverage tomorrow, Saturday, April 12.