In the most exciting and brutal fight of 2013, Timothy Bradley survived and earned a narrow unanimous decision victory over the "Siberian Rocky” Ruslan Provodnikov to successfully defend the WBO light welterweight championship on a chilly Saturday night at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
Scrapping on wobbly legs and hitting the canvas at least once, Bradley (30-0-0-1, 12 KOs) somehow remained upright despite absorbing countless blows from the powerful Provodnikov (22-2, 15 KOs).
Bradley, who showed heart and grit by continuing to battle Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) with a fractured left foot and severely sprained right ankle, favorably compared the rugged Russian to “The Fighting Pride of the Philippines.”
"He's much more powerful than Pacquiao," said Bradley. "He hits harder, and has shorter punches. He's a great puncher, and I take my hat off to him. He's going to be a world champion someday. He's a very strong puncher because he steps into his punches and he hits really hard. It was a really difficult fight. I want to show him by those exchanges that I wasn't afraid of him. That's why I kept trading with him. I didn't want to show any fear. I can brawl and box with anyone."
Although badly bludgeoned and battered, Provodnikov vehemently disagreed with the scoring.
"I was the clear winner," said Provodnikov, 29, whose only previous loss as a professional came at the hands of American Mauricio Herrera in January 2011. "I hurt him. I knocked him down. I don't know what else to do."
Compensating for feathery fists, Bradley proved to be a diminutive version of a young Evander Holyfield and it’s now tough to envision that Manny Pacquiao could have ever finished the muscleman last spring in “Sin City.”