Timothy Bradley will finally get back into the ring on March 16, defending his WBO welterweight title against Ruslan Provodnikov at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, according to Steve Kim, who tweets that Bob Arum says the fight is finalized.
Bradley (29-0, 12 KO) hasn't fought since his June robbery of Manny Pacquiao, though he's had his name bandied about for several fights last December and early this year. Provodnikov (22-1, 15 KO) has always had his name in the mix, but the 29-year-old Bradley seemed to want to hold out for a bigger fight.
That bigger fight just wasn't coming, though -- Top Rank has a dearth of quality fighters at 140 or 147 to fight Bradley, and those they do have are busy elsewhere. Pacquiao has no interest in a Bradley rematch, and Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado are lined up for a March 30 rematch.
Bradley expressed disinterest in fighting Alvarado and Lamont Peterson, who recently signed with Golden Boy, anyway.
It's certainly not the ideal fight for Bradley to come back with, but Provodnikov, 29, is a hard-charging, aggressive fighter, and should at least make the fight as fun to watch as he can. The Russian doesn't know how to do boring fights, so that's an upside. Plus, as we've said a million times now, Bradley had to just get back in the ring, period. Sitting this long did him no good, and any longer wasn't going to help, either.