Tim Bradley’s first defense of his WBO Welterweight crown brings a rematch with a familiar face across from him…not with Pacquiao, but with Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach.
While Tim Bradley has long been a known commodity in the welterweight division, it could be argued he’s even more of a household name now as an effect of the baffling decision that handed him the welterweight championship over Manny Pacquiao. In a flash, much of Bradley’s undefeated career, which includes wins over Devon Alexander and Lamont Peterson, has been forgotten for the most part since the Pacquiao fight and he’s even complained of getting death threats in the aftermath.
Despite the WBO ordering a video review and having all committee members score it for Pacquiao, the WBO review board does not overturn fight results bringing us to the fight that we will be watching this weekend. If Paquiao’s fight with Marquez went a different way, it’s conceivable it’d be him in the ring this Saturday. Instead, Pacquiao is taking some time off to lick his wounds and consider his next fight and it’s Freddy Roach preparing for Bradley once again. This time though, Roach finds himself planning the coming out party of Ruslan Provodnikov.
Ruslan Provodnikov (22-1, 15 KO) might be known by boxing aficionados, as he’s trained by Freddie Roach, spars with Pacquiao, and did appear on an edition of Friday Night Fights last summer where he beat Jose Reynoso via an early KO. Still, the thought in itself of a belt that was held by Pacquiao just last June potentially being held by Provodikov just 9 months later has a bit of comical tune to it…but it’s now possible. And if you listen to what Freddy Roach told RingTV, it’s very possible:
"The fact that Ruslan has been Manny's lead sparring partner his past two camps has given Ruslan an outstanding foundation from which to work. When Manny was preparing to defend his title against Bradley last spring I said any of Manny's sparring partners could beat Bradley. Ruslan will to prove that on March 16."
Fans might welcome Provodnikov with open arms once they see his aggressive style fan friendly style. He’s certainly a hard puncher but his defense, or lack there of, may have many picking for Bradley to outbox Provodnikov toward an easy victory. Bookmakers have installed Bradley as a massive 9 to 1 favorite but if Provodnikov’s FNF appearance is anything to go off he will at least entertain those that tune in Saturday and make a good accord for himself. Provo just has to make sure that a strong performance not only makes a name for himself, but also translates to the judges.