Boxing News

Bradley wins war against Provodnikov

By David Robinett and Felipe Leon at ringside
Photo: Chris Farina / Top Rank

Lightning struck twice for Tim Bradley, winning a second consecutive unpopular decision before a small but exhilarated crowd at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, Saturday night on HBO World Championship Boxing. Bradley, (30-0, 12 KOs), and his opponent, unheralded Ruslan Provodnikov, (22-2, 15 KOs), put on a show for the ages, going toe-to-toe throughout the fight in between short stretches of high-stakes cat and mouse. The fight ended with Bradley taking a knee under withering pressure from Provodnikov, but having won enough rounds early to earn a unanimous decision by scores of 114-113, 114-113, and an unfairly wide 115-112 (eight rounds to four). Although the decision was roundly booed at ringside, Bradley did win several rounds and the overall result was not unjust.

The story of the fight was written in round one, and repeated in most of the rounds after. The superior boxer Bradley would briefly control the action with his jab from a safe fighting distance. Provodnikov, applying constant pressure, would coax Bradley into violent exchanges where Bradley often landed more punches, but Provodnikov was landing significantly heavier blows. Provodnikov appeared to have Bradley nearly out on his feet in rounds one and two as the the bell sounded. Bradley was able to box more in rounds three through five before Provodnikov battered Bradley along the ropes again in round six. The action lulled a bit in the middle rounds as Bradley found his boxing rhythm before the fighters went toe-to-toe during long stretches in each of the final four rounds, including a breathtaking final 30 seconds that ended with Bradley on his knee as the round came to a close. Although it was technically a short right hand to the head that put Bradley down, it was really 30 seconds of sustained pressure that simply overwhelmed Bradley.

In the end, a close decision victory for Bradley was not a bad result, but for the second consecutive bout Bradley was clearly the more damaged fighter at the final bell, which probably does nothing to diminish the perception of Bradley as an unworthy victor. Unlike the Pacquiao fight however, there was nothing unworthy about either Bradley or Provodnikov’s performance, which hopefully fight fans will savor long after the controversy fades.

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A battle of undefeated welterweights for the WBC Continental Americas belt resulted with Las Vegas native Jessie Vargas (22-0, 9KOs) boxing his way to a unanimous decision over Nigerian Wale “Lucky Boy” Omotoso (23-1-1, 19KOs) of Hollywood, CA, over ten round. After Omotoso steadily landed the bigger punches using his right hand as his weapon of choice, Vargas controlled the pace and distance of the fight in the first half with a steady jab but not much else. Vargas turned up the heat in the fifth and scored a scorching right hand that hurt Omotoso and made him reel back showboating as he tried to throw Vargas off his scent. Vargas tried to finish him off there but fell short as the African displayed a sturdy chin.

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The fight slowed down in the second half with both fighters exchanging moments as they fought at different distances. Vargas was steady with his jab while Omotoso kept landing that right but a lot less consistent. “Lucky Boy” made a late push in the last round as he went for broke and pressured Vargas for the last three minutes as it just wasn’t enough as both judges Fritz Werner and Jonathan Davis scored it 96-93 while Gwen Adair saw it 97-92.

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In an entertaining and interesting tussle, Mexican Olympian Oscar Valdez (3-0, 3KOs) finally broke down the game Carlos Gonzalez (1-3) of Bell, CA, in the fourth round of a scheduled featherweight six. Valdez went after Gonzalez from the opening bell, crowding him and scoring to the body well. Gonzalez was effective when he created distance between them and scored well with a left hook to the body. Although Valdez was the busier, it didn’t seem he was putting anything on his punches until the fourth round when he was able to hurt Gonzalez and make him take a step back. Valdez went after his prey and after scoring a series of unanswered punches, forced referee to to stop the action at the :58 mark of the fourth round.

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Mexican heavyweight prospect Andy Ruiz, Jr., remained unbeaten with a near walkover over uninterested journeyman Matthew Greer. Ruiz, (18-0, 12 KOs), dropped Greer a total of three times in the first round, the last time resulting in referee Jack Reiss stepping in to wave the fight over at 2:53. Greer, (15-10, 13 KOs), has only beaten two fighters with winning records, but has faced the likes of James Toney, Brian Minto, and Kevin Johnson, and was expected to give the youngster a little work. However, a left to the sternum by Ruiz dropped Greer in the first minute and Greer clearly wanted no part of Ruiz after that. To his credit Ruiz kept the pressure on Greer, punishing his opponent’s body with both hands and dropping Greer a second time with a left hook to the body. Greer beat the count but covered up in an exaggerated fashion every time Ruiz threw at him, without offering anything in return to keep Ruiz from moving forward. Finally, with seconds left in the round Ruiz clipped the top of Greer’s head with a chopping right hand that put Greer down for the third and final time.

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With a highlight reel KO, local fan favorite Gabino Saenz (9-0-1, 8KOs) remained undefeated and wowed the crowd by stopping tough but overmatched Victor Sanchez (4-2-1, 2KOs) of Phoenix, Arizona. After a first round where the taller Sanchez was not afraid to mix it up with the quicker and stronger Saenz, the Phoenix fighter was hurt with a short left hook and seconds later was laid out cold by a short over hand right he never saw. No count was needed by experienced referee Tony Crebs as he waived off the fight and waived in the ringside doctor. The time was 2:02 of the second round of a scheduled featherweight six. Minutes later Sanchez was able to walk out of the ring on his own accord.

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In a slight upset, unheralded Victor Sanchez (4-5-1, 1KO) of Houston, Texas, stopped local Ramon Valadez (11-4, 6KOs) in the first round of a scheduled featherweight six. Neither fighter were shy in fighting in close quarters and letting the bombs fly. Both were landing hard and often but the southpaw Sanchez scored with a perfect pitched left hook to the chin of Valadez that dropped him near the ropes. Valadez beat the count but didn´t change his strategy and Sanchez once again hurt him with a left hook before Reiss was able to rip him away from Valadez. Valadez was out on his feet. Official time was 2:39.

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Well-regarded prospect Jessie Magdaleno, (14-0, 10 KOs), got a couple of rounds of target practice in against journeyman Carlos Fulgencio, (18-10-1, 12 KOs), before finishing him 45 seconds into round three of a scheduled eight-round featherweight bout. From the opening bell Magdaleno’s speed and power was too much for Fulgencio. Magdaleno dropped Fulgencio once in round one with a double-right hook, once in round two with another right hook, and then the final time in round three with a right uppercut that sent Fulgencio sprawling forward onto the canvas, prompting referee Tony Crebs to wave the fight over.

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In the evening’s opening contest, two-time Lithuanian Olympian Egidijus Kavaliauskas made a successful pro-debut, pounding on game but outclassed Eridanni Leon Quintero en route to a 40-36 unanimous decision in a four-round super welterweight bout. Quintero, who was also making his pro debut, showed tremendous heart trying to stand his ground against Kavaliauskas, but the Lithuanian had an easy time of it, consistently hurting Quintero with left hooks to the head and a punishing body attack.

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