Staggering: Bradley Survives a Brutal War with Provodnikov

by Eric Raskin

There were echoes of the Thrilla in Manila. There were shades of Chavez-Taylor. There was even a taste of what an unscripted Balboa-Creed might look like.

This is not to say that Tim Bradley vs. Ruslan Provodnikov was as thrilling, as memorable, or as iconic as any of those (real or fictitious) fights. There would be varying levels of blasphemy involved in making such direct comparisons. All we’re saying is that Bradley-Provodnikov provided elements of all of the above. And that it was thrilling, memorable, and instantly iconic in its own right.

At the conclusion of 12 heart-pounding rounds, including a final round in which he was quite literally saved by the bell, Bradley retained his welterweight belt by a single point on two scorecards. He successfully followed up his highly disputed decision over Manny Pacquiao and subsequent nine-month layoff with a far less disputed victory. Before the opening bell of Bradley-Provodnikov, ring announcer Lupe Contreras injected the unpopular opinion that Bradley’s “previous performance catapulted him to boxing superstardom.” Twelve rounds after Contreras’ proclamation, however, the case could rightly be made that Tim Bradley had arrived as a boxing superstar.

Read the Complete Timothy Bradley vs. Ruslan Provodnikov Fight Recap on HBO.com.

CompuBox Analysis: Bradley vs. Provodnikov

by CompuBox

Zahir Raheem can certainly feel Timothy Bradley's pain. In September 2005 the tricky "Z-Man" comprehensively out-pointed Erik Morales to score the biggest victory of his career and he had every right to think he would be vaulted into the elite in terms of standing and purse money. Neither happened; the Pacquiao-Morales superfight Raheem supposedly scuttled was made anyway while Raheem sat on the sidelines for seven months before losing a split decision to Acelino Freitas and fading into obscurity.

As for Bradley, his victory over number-one pound-for-pound Manny Pacquiao last June 9 has merited no fanfare whatsoever, mostly because the split decision in his favor was almost universally panned. The "mandated" rematch clause was never exercised -- who'd want to see that fight again? -- and thus Bradley lost out on a second huge purse. Few times in history has a career-defining win resulted in so little reward. Coming into Saturday's fight with Ruslan Provodnikov, Bradley has endured a 280-day layoff -- the second longest of his career -- and that comes on the heels of a career-long 287-day hiatus.

Will "Desert Storm" be motivated enough to fight at his best Saturday or will Provodnikov score his own massive upset? If he does, he'd better hope he has better luck than Bradley had with his.

Read the Complete CompuBox Analysis of Bradley vs. Provodnikov on HBO.com.