2. Timothy Bradley vs. Ruslan Provodnikov - WBO Welterweight Title
March 16, 2013
Timothy Bradley had a rough 2012. What should have been the greatest moment of his boxing career turned into a year of ridicule. A highly controversial split decision over Manny Pacquiao caused Bradley to be one of the most hated men in the sport.
With a chip on his shoulder, Bradley brought all his frustrations into a fight with Ruslan Provodinkov in what turned out to be an unforgettable war. Heading into the contest, Provodnikov was brushed off by fans as a lower-tier fighter viewed as an easy title defense for Bradley. It would be anything but that.
Bradley, seemingly determined to fight with the wrong strategy, would trade shots with Provodnikov to his own detriment. In the first round, a delayed reaction by Bradley to a shot on the inside by Provodnikov caused him to fall to the canvas in the style of Trevor Berbick against Mike Tyson.
The referee didn’t call the knockdown, but Provodnikov went in for the kill. The second round saw Provodnikov land overhand rights that hit in such a fashion that they looked like knockout blows. Bradley somehow withstood these shots and fought back.
In the next few rounds Bradley would pick his spots outworking Provodnikov, throwing punches in combination, and then slipping out of the way of the returning fire.
However, it was only a matter of time until Provodnikov got his chance. Capitalizing on Bradley staying on the inside for too long, Provodnikov seriously hurt Bradley in the sixth round, leaving him almost hanging on the ropes. Seemingly knocked out on his feet, Bradley continued to throw punches and refused to be put down.
The perseverance and resolve Bradley showed was astonishing.
For every combination that Bradley landed, one punch from Provodnikov would even the score. Multiple rounds had a sense of dread, with Bradley managing to survive until that one punch landed that would finally set him down for the ten count.
In the 12th round, Provodnikov landed a series of blows that again sent Bradley reeling. However, Bradley would not allow his opponent to get the satisfaction of putting him down, instead choosing to take a knee.
Bradley would escape with a razor-thin unanimous decision. The first-round knockdown the referee didn’t call would make the difference in the scorecards. The bout would earn Fight of the Year honors from multiple publications in 2013.
Bradley would earn back the respect he lost to the public and with boxing fans after the bout with Provodnikov. He would be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2023.