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Bradley: Provodnikov is really going to test me on March 16th

Timothy BradleyBy Chris Williams: WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley (29-0, 12 KO’s) will be emerging from 9 long months of inactivity to finally make his first defense of his World Boxing Organization 147 lb title against light welterweight Ruslan Provodnikov (22-1, 15 KO’s) at the Home Depot Center, in Carson, California, USA.

Why Bradley is facing a light welterweight instead of a welterweight is something only he and his promoter Bob Arum knows, but it’s likely because there aren’t enough Top Rank stable fighters for Bradley to fight at that weight. So instead of fighting the likes Victor Ortiz or Marcos Maidana, Bradley has to settle for a 140 pounder that has mainly been seen by American audiences on ESPN2.

Bradley said this about the Provodnikov fight as quoted by RingTV “Ruslan comes to fight. He takes your best and gives his best. He’s going to push me as hard as he can.”

That sounds like code for ‘This is going to be a one-sided mismatch.’ When you hear Bradley complimenting his opponent and trying to build him up, then you this is a mismatch put together to make Bradley look good and keep him winning before he gets put back in with fellow Top Rank fighter Manny Pacquiao either in September or early 2014.

Provodnikov, trained by Freddie Roach, has good power, and he can hurt you if he lands his right hand enough. However, he’s slow of hand and foot, and his defensive skills are missing altogether. The 29-year-old Provodnikov gets hit an awful lot, and his face swells up even against 2nd tier fighters, which is pretty much what he’s been fighting during his career.

Provodnikov has stepped it up a few times in fights against DeMarcus Corley (if you want to call that a step up), and Mauricio Herrera, and he looked terrible in both fights. He lost to Herrera and took a beating in winning a controversial decision over Corley.

That’s it for Provodnikov’s big fight experience and he looked like a 2nd tier fighter in both bouts. I’m not sure why the WBO ranked #2 at 140 because the way he was beaten by Herrera and handled by Corley, Provodnikov should be a 2nd tier fighter, not someone ranked #2.

Since Roach is training Provodnikov, we’ll likely see Roach telling Provodnikov to pressure Bradley the entire fight. That seems to be Roach’s #1 game plan for his fighters, and I suspect it’ll work about as good as it for Pacquiao against Juan Manuel Marquez last December.

Bradley will likely beat Provodnikov on cuts. Bradley doesn’t hit hard to stop Provodnikov, unless he stops him with his head, but he can definitely cut him up because Provodnikov swells and bleeds even when facing poor opposition.

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