Timothy Bradley and Ruslan Provodnikov hit Los Angeles today to officially announce their March 16 HBO main event from the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, and both fighters did what you'd expect: Guaranteed an action-packed fight.
Bradley (29-0, 12 KO) will be fighting for the first time since his incredibly controversial June 9 win over Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas. The 29-year-old Bradley has been criticized heavily in the media and by boxing fans since that event, and has seen a handful of potential fights fall by the wayside. Originally intended to return on December 15, Bradley passed that date up and waited a bit longer, perhaps hoping to secure a bigger name opponent.
But he's wound up with Provodnikov (22-1, 15 KO), a junior welterweight action star and ESPN Friday Night Fights regular from Russia, promoted by Banner Promotions. Provodnikov, also 29, has made a bit of a name for himself with diehard boxing fans thanks to his regular TV appearances, but is taking a huge step up in opposition against Bradley, a world-class fighter and a former champion at 140 pounds, who holds the WBO welterweight title thanks to his dubious win over Pacquiao.
Speaking to his fighter's love of the toe-to-toe war, promoter Artie Pellulo said, "Provodnikov doesn't know how to do anything but come at you." Bradley acknowledged this, too, noting, "This is going to be a great and exciting fight. If you've ever seen Ruslan fight, he comes to fight. He's going to be right in my face. He takes your best and gives his best."
The fight, Provodnikov says, is what he's been working for in his pro career. "This is definitely the fight of my life. This is the dream, and it's a dream come true. It's going to be a great fight."
One wild card may be the length of time that Bradley has been on the sidelines, with rust potentially building during what should be his prime years in the sport. Trainer Joel Diaz says that his fighter will be ready, but that he wants to be busier in 2013.
"He prepares for every fight like it's a championship fight," said Diaz. "For him, every fight is a tough fight."
"He took a long layoff, and he needs to stay active," Diaz added. "Come March 16th, Timothy is going to do what he does best, and that's get in the ring, and come out victorious." Bradley said he'd like to fight three or four times in 2013.
Bradley stated later that he won't be taking Provodnikov lightly, despite his status as a major favorite in the bout. "If you've got two hands, you've got an opportunity. Every single time. Every round, every second."
Also from the press conference...
The undercard will feature a pair of young prospects from manager Frank Espinoza's stable in super bantamweight prospect Gabino Saenz (8-0, 6 KO) and 2012 Olympian Oscar Valdez (2-0, 2 KO), as well as Notre Dame Subway guy Mike Lee (11-0, 6 KO) in a four or six round contest.
Top Rank President Todd DuBoef also took the opportunity during the press conference to address the belief that Top Rank only works in-house, instead of working with other promoters, noting that they were working with another promoter for this fight. Though he didn't state it explicitly, it was clear who he was addressing above all else.
"Any of you guys that give me this crap that we don't do fights with other promoters, shut up. I'm tired of this shit," he said. "When a deal had to get made, Artie Pellulo was there. When a deal has to get made, Lou DiBella and Dan Goossen would be there."
Tickets go on sale Friday, priced between $25 and $200.