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Can Ruslan Provodnikov pull the upset against Timothy Bradley tomorrow night on HBO? The BLH staff weigh in with their super-expert world champion thoughts on the fight.
The only top fighters, at 147 or 140, I'd give Ruslan Provodnikov a chance of beating are those with questionable chins and/or poor gas tanks. Tim Bradley is not one of those guys. And even when Bradley has gone down his resilience to get back up like nothing happened is astounding. Bradley will out box Provodnikov for however long it lasts. Logic suggests it will go to the cards but there's a slight chance Provodnikov is stopped via cuts or mercy. Provodnikov's defensive deficiencies will be his undoing. Bradley by unanimous decision.
With due respect to Ruslan Provodnikov, he's one of those fighters who proves two things. 1) Action fighters with defensive issues are fun to watch, and 2) Those same fighters aren't going to get it done against truly skilled, well-rounded opponents. The Pacquiao controversy has made some fans, it seems, forget that Timothy Bradley is a really good fighter, one of the best boxers in the world today, and someone who is going to simply outclass the tough and likable Provodnikov. It's not that Ruslan is a bad fighter, but he's not near Bradley's class. It would take a fluke or some serious ring rust from Bradley for him to lose this fight. Bradley by shutout-type decision.
I think this is a solid comeback fight for Bradley after being idle for nine months. I know Provodnikov is not the name he desired, but the best thing for him is to just get in the ring again. Lost in all of the hoopla surrounding his controversial win over Manny Pacquiao is the fact that Bradley is still one of the top 15 or so fighters in the sport. What he lacks in appreciable punching power he can make up for with his workrate, pressure, and underrated skills against all but the very best of foes. Provodnikov is a solid pro, but nothing great. Bradley has obviously faced better, and that will show as the fight wears on. There is nothing Provodnikov can do that Bradley has not seen or been prepared for.
Look for the early rounds to be reasonably close as the two engage in some nice exchanges in the middle of the ring. However, as the fight wears on, Bradley will resort to boxing a bit more than expected, outclassing Provodnikov from a distance with his jab. I see Bradley winning a clear decision here with scores in the 117-111 vicinity. Bradley by decision.
From the little I've seen of Provodnikov I don't believe he has much chance of pulling off an upset here. Whilst the Russian's come-forward style is good to watch, he isn't the most skilful boxer around, has poor footwork and isn't as big a puncher as his record suggests. I'm also bewildered as to how he's got a title shot at welterweight when he's a career 140 pounder.
Bradley should be too quick and too well schooled for Provodnikov, outboxing the game but out of his depth challenger over the distance. Bradley by wide decision.
Final Tally: Timothy Bradley 4, Ruslan Provdonikov 0.