By Miguel Maravilla
Photos: Big Joe Miranda
Undefeated WBO welterweight champion Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley Jr. (29-0, 12 KOs) of Palm Springs, California is set to return to the ring against Russia’s Ruslan Provodnikov (22-1, 15 KOs) on March 16 live on HBO from the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. The bout was officially announced at a kickoff press conference Wednesday afternoon at the Biltmore Millennium Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Presiding over the affair was Top Rank President Todd duBoef.
“On March 16 we are proud to announce that at the Home Depot Center the welterweight king Timothy Bradley will be defending his title against top contender Ruslan Provodnikov,” said duBoef. “We are really thrilled to bring it here which we consider Timmy’s backyard, and Ruslan trains out of the Wild Card gym.”
Provodnikov’s promoter Art Pellulo stated, “He’s very television friendly. You’re going to love him. He doesn’t know how to do anything but come at you.”
Ruslan Provodnikov looked eager and ready for his shot at the title as he spoke to the media. “I want to thank the promoters and HBO. I assure you made a good decision giving me the chance,” Provodnikov said in his opening statement. “This is definitely the fight of my life, the dream I have had all my life. Now this is a dream come true, come March 16. I assure you this is going to be a great fight everyone will enjoy it.”
Displaying great respect and sportsmanship the Russian fighter finished by shaking hands and wishing his opponent good luck. “Good Luck to Timothy Bradley I will see you all March 16,” Provodnikov concluded.
Trainer Joel Diaz stepped up to the podium before his fighter Timothy Bradley was introduced. “I want to let you know that Tim prepares for every fight like if it’s a championship fight. For him every fight is a tough fight. He is ahead of the game I want to thank Team Provodnikov for stepping up to the plate. Come March 16 Timothy is going to do what he does best get in that ring and come out victorious.”
Bradley followed as he talked about his showdown with Provodnikov. “I’m glad to be back. This is going to be an exciting fight. If you have seen Ruslan fight, he comes to fight. He takes your best and he gives you his best every round. He will be in my face and make me fight,” Bradley said.
“It’s going to be a tough challenge. I ‘m not taking this guy lightly. Every fight is a tough fight to me. Don’t miss March 16. I will be back, glad to be back, my home is the ring.”
Shortly afterwards both fighters posed for the cameras for the traditional faceoff.
Bradley is coming off a controversial split decision win over Manny Pacquiao last June and is set to make the first defense of his welterweight title. Fightnews spoke to the champion as he talked about returning and defending his title for the first time.
“I leave everything in the past, but I have been great since that fight…spending time with my family, enjoying life, doing a lot of charity events, I’m just glad to be back. It’s been 8 months. I’m happy to be back and that Ruslan took the fight,” Bradley told Fightnews.com. “He brings intensity but the greatest thing is that I bring is intensity, as well. They say we’re kind of similar but I’m smarter than him. Now he’s at a different level, this a different ball game.”
Provodnikov scored a vicious knockout over Jose Reynoso last June on ESPN Friday Night Fights destroying him in two rounds and breaking his nose in the process. The Russian fighter is ranked second in the WBO welterweight division. His only loss was a very close disputed decision to Mauricio Herrera as he talked about the opportunity and looks to take full advantage.
“I’m very happy. This is the dream of my life. This is something that every boxer dreams of and I can’t wait till I get in the ring,” Provodnikov told Fightnews.com. “He is a well-taught boxer. He can fight and he can box. He’s very technical. That’s why I think this is going to be great fight especially for the fans.”
Bradley vs. Provodnikov should be an interesting, entertaining matchup as both fighters come into the ring with an aggressive style and size up perfect. Provodnikov stands at 5 feet 6 inches and is a strong, hard puncher that comes forward with thunder in both hands knocking out 15 of his 23 opponents.
Bradley who also stands at 5’6 and he has stood in the pocket and exchanged with the likes of Kendall Holt, Lamont Peterson, Devon Alexander, Joel Casamayor, and most recently Manny Pacquiao.
On March 16 at the Home Depot Center this will be one you won’t want to miss as the same venue that hosted Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado last October which was the Fight of the Year.
“We had to come back to the Home Depot Center and this will be one of those fights. Don’t miss Bradley-Provodnikov,” duBoef concluded at Wednesday’s press conference.
“I always come out and fight I don’t look for compromises. I like when it’s a fight. I hope this is going to be a fight. Expect a good fight” Provodnikov told Fightnews.com in closing.
“I like the venue. Its real compact so it’s good for the fans. It’s going to be loud in there, especially if we are slugging. Expect a young, hungry man. I have a lot to prove, definitely trying to make a statement and get the respect I deserve,” Bradley told us.
The undercard will include some prospects March 16 from the Home Depot Center. The Pride of Notre Dame, cruiserweight Mike Lee (11-0, 6 KOs) and featherweight Gabino Saez (8-0-1, 6 KOs) of Indio, California will see action in separate bouts.
Also on the card in a special attraction will be 2012 Mexican Olympian Oscar Valdez (2-0, 2 KOs). Valdez is managed by Frank Espinoza, who currently manages champions Abner Mares and Daniel Ponce de Leon, as well as contenders Carlos Molina, Ronny Rios and Luis Ramos Jr.