The first thing HBO’s Max Kellerman asked Timothy Bradley to comment about was what he had just told Max off camera. Bradley couldn’t remember and asked Max for help. After a little prompting, Timothy remembered and said, “I was concussed!” Max was curious and asked Timothy, “How would you know that?” Timothy smiled and said, “Because I’m still dizzy!”
The truth is he was knocked silly more than once in the fight. According to unofficial score keeper Harold Lederman, what should have been scored a knock down was “blown” by Referee Pat Russell. Harold was adamant that Ruslan Provodnikov should have been awarded with a knock down in the early round. Either things happened too quickly, or Russell had the wrong angle, because he didn’t call it.
At least two more times during the contest, Bradley got an assist from the ropes. Some referees might have been convinced Bradley was kept up because of the ropes. Of course escaping the knockdowns meant point totals in Bradley’s favor, and in the end, Bradley barely escaped being counted out and instead pulled off a UD instead.
In fairness to the judges, without inclusion of the questionable knockdowns, they had no choice but to award Bradley the decision. His punch numbers and landing percentage far out weighed Ruslan’s totals. Ruslan’s face showed evidence of the pummeling he was receiving.
The big difference was in the power of Ruslan’s punches. When he landed, there was a shift in the equilibirium of the Desert Storm. The Storm would waver, stumble, dip and lose strength. Instinctively, the Desert Storm would lash out from all angles, inflicting biting, bruising and sand blasting type punishment.
The fact that both fighters’ corner men considered, more than once, stopping the fight was indicative of the tough and brutality of Saturday’s night’s action at the Home Depot Center, Carson, CA. It will be difficult to surpass it for fight of the year.
It’s a good bet Bradley’s people didn’t anticipate anything this difficult. Undoubtedly their plan was for Bradley to us his superior skills, athleticism, and speed to make a monkey out of Ruslan early, and then punish him later. However, Bradley didn’t quite follow the plan. He forgot the first part, and jumped right in with the part where he was supposed to inflict punishment. Of course that put him in harms way, and Ruslan took advantage of the opportunity. He used both lefts and rights to knock Bradley wobbling. As they used to say in the old days of boxing, “He had him on queer street.”
If Ruslan had only learned how to mix in a few body shots with his finishing attack, he probably could have put Bradley away. Bradley also had a bit of the St. Paddy’s day luck by usually getting hurt late in the rounds, so Ruslan didn’t have enough time to catch him with the really big one before the bell rang.
Another huge mistake Ruslan repeated throughout the night was to walk right into punching range without doing a damn thing. He didn’t jab. He didn’t feint. He didn’t change angles. He didn’t move his head. You get the picture. He was like a “heavy bag” being held in place by some unseen helper. Bradley enjoyed the favor by executing impressive demonstrations of his superior speed and combination punching. Ruslan dutifully took most of the shots to his head and body. But, to his credit, he just kept moving forward, looking, searching for that big punch opportunity, and those opportunities came often enough for him to almost put Bradley to sleep.
The last one came in the twelth and final round. Ruslan had Bradley in the worst trouble of the fight, but time once again was on Timothy’s side, and ran out before Ruslan could fianalize a kayo victory. When the final bell tolled, Ruslan fell to his knees and wept. He knew he came oh so close. The final scores were 114-113 times two and 115-112. No need to tell you the importance of the additional knockdowns if awarded. Undoubtedly Pat Russell is going to catch a lot of flack, but in fairness to him, this is a judgment business, and judges too have the option to score a 10-8 round, even when knockdowns haven’t been awarded. The truth is the action was hot and heavy (and fast) and instant replay is a great tool for hindsight and second guessing. One thing with which no one will argue, it was a great fight!