By Keith Idec
Ruslan Provodnikov wasn’t surprised Timothy Bradley bounced back from their brutal battle to beat Juan Manuel Marquez.
The only thing that caught Provodnikov off guard Saturday night was that one of the three judges of the Bradley-Marquez fight scored it for Marquez. Glenn Feldman scored Marquez a 115-113 winner, but Bradley won a split decision at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center and retained his WBO welterweight title because Patricia Morse Jarman (116-112) and Robert Hoyle (115-113) scored the 12-round fight for him.
“I was surprised that one of the judges gave it to Marquez,” Provodnikov said while promoting his fight against Mike Alvarado. “Compared to my fight [against Bradley], I was just a little bit surprised. … Every time [your hear about] the judges’ scorecards out there, you get more and more shocked. I can’t tell what fight they were watching.”
Luckily for Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs, 1 NC), his fight against Marquez (55-7-1, 40 KOs) didn’t at all resemble his memorable slugfest against Provodnikov. Bradley beat Provodnikov by unanimous decision March 16 in Carson, Calif., but the Palm Springs, Calif., native took so much punishment against Provodnikov skeptics understandably wondered whether Bradley would ever be the same fighter.
The unbeaten Bradley promised he would return to his pre-Provodnikov form against the Mexican legend, and he delivered one of the best performances of his career. Russia’s Provodnikov wasn’t the least bit surprised while watching the fight on television.
“Timothy Bradley is ready for all of his fights,” Provodnikov said. “He was 100-percent ready. He was very well prepared for this fight. I saw what I expected to see. Timothy Bradley out-boxed Marquez. Marquez said himself before [the fight] that they were hoping that they were just going to have finish him off after me. But knowing the type of fighter Timothy Bradley is and the type of warrior he is, I never believed that he was going to let someone finish him off. He’s a true warrior and he’s going to come in and fight.
“I think why Bradley fought the way he fought was because Juan Manuel Marquez just let him fight that way. You cannot beat Timothy Bradley in boxing. You have to break him, you have to pressure him, you have to break him down inside and outside … that’s the only way you can beat that guy. You cannot box him. I think that was the biggest mistake Juan Manuel Marquez made, that he thought he can beat him by boxing.”
Provodnikov (22-2, 15 KOs) wants a rematch with Bradley at some point, but first will challenge Denver’s Alvarado (34-1, 23 KOs) in a 12-round fight Saturday night for Alvarado’s WBO junior welterweight title. HBO will televise Alvarado-Provodnikov from 1STBANK Center in Broomfield, Colo., near Denver.
Like Provodnikov, Alvarado was very impressed by how Bradley boxed Saturday night.
“Bradley fought great,” Alvarado said. They put a game plan together to win that fight and he stuck to it. He didn’t let Marquez take him out of his element, out of his boxing game, like Ruslan did. So therefore, he performed and executed what he had to execute to win that fight. I give him a lot of credit. He’s a great champion. He’s a warrior, a great champion. He did what he had to do to win that fight. It was a good fight to watch.
“He recovered well off of that Ruslan fight. He fought the wrong fight against Provodnikov. I think he went in there and thought he was just going to be able to walk through him or something. He fought a whole different type of fight [against Marquez]. That happens. … He fought great Saturday. He put on a great performance.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.