By Bill Phanco: WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley (29-0, 12 KO’s) will finally get back in the ring to make his first defense of his title against ESPN fighter Ruslan Provodnikov (22-1, 15 KO’s) on March 16th at the Home Depot Center, in Carson, California.
Provodnikov appears to have been selected by Bradley’s team based on how vulnerable he’s looked recently. However, Provodnikov’s famous trainer Freddie Roach believes he’s got enough power to give Bradley a lot of problems and pull off an upset.
Roach said “When he [Bradley] feels Ruslan’s power, like when he felt Manny’s [Pacquiao], it’s going to be a remake of Forrest Gump, ‘Run, Timmy, run.’..Bradley is going to run from Provodnikov like he did against Manny.”
It’s hard to imagine Bradley running from a fighter like Provodnikov. It could happen if Provodnikov is able to shock Bradley with his power. However, Bradley usually likes to mix it up with his opponents in the trenches. The exception to that rule was his fight with Pacquiao last June.
Bradley spent much of the fight running from Pacquiao, and trying just to survive. Bradley had to do that because he didn’t have the power or the speed to stand in there with Pacquiao.
With Provodnikov, it’s a lot different because he’s a lot slower than Pacquiao, and he’s not as good of a puncher. Provodnikov can definitely punch but probably not hard enough to make Bradley run from him. Anything is possible, but it’s not likely. Bradley’s team picked out Provodnikov simply because he wasn’t going to be a problem for him, and they obviously did their research well on the guy.
Bradley will likely get a rematch against Pacquiao just by virtue of being in the same Top Rank stable as him. Therefore, all Bradley has to do is keep defending his title against weak opponents to avoid getting beaten until he gets a rematch against Pacquiao in 2014. It’s going to happen because his promoter Bob Arum doesn’t have many options for Pacquiao in his Top Rank stable, and he really likes to put on rematches instead of finding new people for Pacquiao to fight.