DON’T HATE, JUST APPRECIATE
I agree with you, Joseph. Bradley-Provodnikov was one of those rare fights that put me in a state of awe and reminded me of how I lucky I am to be able to cover these brave and special men from ringside. It was an honor to do the post-fight deadline report on this fight.
But hey, that’s me. I have my perspective and opinion, you have yours, and the few loud mouths that left those spiteful comments under my Bradley-Provodnikov story have theirs. No big deal. We all know that the word “fan” is short for “fanatic.” Some of these loud mouths are crazy or depressed or just plain silly.
I was getting a ton of fan feedback on fights before comments under articles was the norm and way before social media thanks to the mailbag column, so I know how wacky some boxing followers are. I know that sometimes fans just decide that they don’t like a particular fighter because of his boxing style or because they felt he is or was favored by the officials in a certain bout or by the powers that be.
Some fans are never going to forgive Bradley for winning a controversial decision over Manny Pacquiao. They don’t care how exciting he looks or how much heart he shows in subsequent fights. Same deal with Abner Mares. Some fans don’t like his rough, swarming style and they will never forgive him for not being penalized for low blows in the first Joseph Agbeko fight. It doesn’t matter who he legitimately beats from now on, or if he’s in a fight of the year candidate as Bradley was on Saturday. To some fans, Mares will always be that dirty little a__hole who got away with hitting poor Agbeko in the nuggets.
And some fans will never be satisfied with the outcome of a hotly contested bout that results in close scorecards, no matter how damn good – or even great – the fight is. As far as I’m concerned, Marquez-Pacquiao I, Morales-Pacquiao I and Corrales-Jose Luis Castillo I were fights that exemplified boxing at its best and most dramatic.
However, some fans could only fixate on the controversies of those awesome fights. With Marquez-Pacquiao I it was the scoring of the first round. With Morales-Pacquiao I it was the gloves that Pacquiao wore (good grief). With Corrales-Castillo I it was Chico spitting his mouthpiece out twice in that all-time great 10th round.
There are going to be some fans who only think of referee Pat Russell’s decision not to call the knockdown in the first round when this fight is mentioned. That’s their prerogative, as Bobby Brown sang back in the day. Me? I’m going to think about the many thrills the fight provided and I’m going to remember how much the two fighters gave of themselves that night.
BRADLEY’S GOT HEART
A good night for boxing fans on HBO Saturday night. I will keep my comments directed to the main event but I will say that while I did not have a favorite in the semi final I might have given the split decision to Wale Omotoso by a slight margin.
Meanwhile back at the main event, let me start by saying that I have never liked Tim Bradley as a fighter. He was never very exciting to watch and to me he was like a miniature Evander Holyfield, leading with his head and busting guys up that way and his awkward style was not very fan friendly. When he fought Manny I thought he would finally get his first loss or maybe even KO’d. When he got the decision it really made me angry. I couldn’t figure out what those judges were watching.
I went into the fight on Saturday with hopes that Provodnikov might make it interesting. I had seen him before and knew what he could bring to the dance. Early on it looked like Tim was trying to make a point by silencing the naysayers and putting some hurt on Provodnikov right away. What transpired was one of those rare moments when I came to my feet and shouted at the TV. I thought that Ruslan might actually pull off the early knockout and erase my frustration over the Bradley-Manny decision as he had Bradley ready to go. I do think that the ref blew the call and robbed Provodnikov of the knockdown he deserved and the judges screwed up to by not awarding a 10-8 round to Ruslan. To be fair though, I have to hand it to Tim Bradley. Even though the ropes held him up, he refused to go down and even fought back through the brain buzz he was experiencing.
Ruslan gave the fight away in the middle rounds when he did not press his advantage but giving the benefit of the doubt, he might have been too exhausted to do so. The last round was the kind of drama that only boxing can deliver. With a minute to go Provodnikov puts Bradley down but just could not finish him.
I am still not a Tim Bradley fan but I will give him props for displaying that intangible known in boxing called “heart.” He has it in abundance. It will be interesting to see what comes next. Oh yeah….. I’ll bet they are two sore mofos this morning. – David, Nashville
They will be sore for weeks. They might not be themselves in the gym or in the ring for many months.
I think both fighters lost a few years from their careers on Saturday. They were 29 years of age when they entered the ring; I think they left it at 33 or 34.
Regarding Bradley, I’ve always respected him and his ability. I was one of the few boxing writers who saw him a future world titleholder back when he was one of the lesser-known Southern California prospects fighting on Thompson Boxing club shows.
However, I haven’t always been a fan of his style or his fights. When he’s in with an aggressive fighter I think he can be fun to watch, but when he’s in with a fellow boxer I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a real chore to sit through his fights.
Like most folks, I thought he lost the Pacquiao fight (nine rounds to three on my card). But I gotta say the non-stop hard on some fans have had for him since that fight has gotten really old. I’d tell ‘em to get over it, but I know some people can’t do that.
It’s refreshing to hear from a fan like you who can give a guy you used to want to see get KTFO credit for the uncommon heart he showed in his last fight, even though you’re still not a fan. That’s fair.
Speaking of fair, I was OK with Jessie Vargas getting the nod over Omotoso. I thought the 97-92 score was too wide in Vargas’ favor but I believe he legitimately outworked Omotoso and outboxed the large Nigerian in the majority of rounds. I scored rounds one, four, five, six, seven and nine for Vargas, giving him a two point edge 95-93 (with his point deduction in round two; and the 10-8 round he earned in the fifth) on my highly unofficial card.
I thought Vargas did fairly well given the fact that he was junior middleweight in with a super middleweight by fight time.
1. Ruslan Provodnikov’s punching power had Tim Bradley nearly out of this fight several times. Though I am of the opinion that Manny Pacquiao had his way with Bradley before being mugged by the judges, Pacman never had Bradley in the kind of trouble that Provodnikov put him in Saturday night. Does that speak well of Provodnikov’s punching power or is Manny Pacquiao not quite the puncher at 147 that he was in the lower weight classes?
2. I was as big of a Roy Jones fan as anyone in the ring, but it is not working out for him as a color analyst. Simply stated, he is awful – referring to his colleagues as “son,” he often analyzes the fight he expected to see instead of the fight taking place right in front of him and he capped off the night by forgetting Ruslan Provodnikov’s name. George Foreman wasn’t always informative with his color commentary, but he was usually likeable. Can anyone say that about Jones?
3. I want to congratulate Freddie Roach for being inducted in the Hall Of Fame. It is well deserved honor. But he has had a lousy run this past year with most of his top fighters taking losses. I watched him in the corner and he wouldn’t start talking to his fighter until damn near seconds out. It was one thing for Ruslan Provodnikov to lose most of the middle rounds to Tim Bradley. But why didn’t Freddie implore his fighter to go to Bradley’s body in the meantime? Had Provodnikov taken the initiative to go downstairs, he might have kept Bradley down in the last round of that fight.
— David S.
Thanks for being the first to email me with your thoughts on Saturday’s terrific fight, David. (Gee, I should give away some kind of prize for that or for my choice of the best email of the bunch, eh?)
Anyway, I’ll respond to your comments in order:
1) Pacquiao was a hell of a puncher at 147 pounds when he first moved up to the welterweight division, but age, his body slowing down by gradually acclimating to the heavier weight and the punishment he absorbed during his fights and training camps eventually took a toll on the little dynamo. The Bradley fight was Provodnikov’s first at 147 pounds and I’m sure he felt very strong not having to shed those extra pounds that he usually had to in order to make junior welterweight. My guess is that he’s a better puncher at 147 than he was at 140. Provodnikov also had the good fortune of Bradley starting their fight fast and furious. It gave him the opportunity to catch Bradley clean before the end of the opening round.
2) I like Jones and I generally enjoy his commentary. I thought he had a bad night on Saturday by riding a little too hard for Bradley. I didn’t have a problem with him forgetting Provodnikov’s last name or occasionally referring to his co-commentators as “son.”
3) Roach has a had a bad run over the past year in terms of the win-loss records of his “name” fighters, but he think he still has it as a world-class trainer. He had a great run with the PacMan and a good run with Amir Khan, who was considered a failed prospect when he signed on with Roach, he got the best out of Chavez Jr., and I think he got the best out of Provodnikov. Few believed Roach when he said that his fighter could hurt Bradley and had a good chance to win the fight. I got A LOT of emails from fans wondering if he was suffering from early senility with those comments. But Roach knows his fighters and he’s got a great track record of improving raw talent and revamping supposedly finished fighters (as he did with James Toney in the late 1990s and early 2000s). Regarding his strategy for Provodnikov, I think he believed the Russian’s ticket was to make Bradley miss and counter him more, which he was able to do in spots. I agree that Provodnikov could have gone to the body more. I thought he could have jabbed more and cut the ring off instead of following Bradley around, but at the end of the day, he is what he is.
TIME FOR SOME RESPECT
How’s life, Doug? Groovy, I hope. Alas, it is time to show Timmy “Cannonball Head” Bradley some respect. A great deal, actually. I’ve already seen where some people are claiming his hard fought victory to be a robbery, which is ridiculous. He totally earned the decision. I’m not a huge fan of Bradley’s. I find his style awkward and usually unappealing. He’s built like a brick s___house and he’s got a pitbull’s mentality but he’s only got 12 KOs in 30 victories. It all feels a bit like an anomaly. Regardless, he is one of the toughest SOBs in the sport right now, as well as being one of the best conditioned. I really like Provodnikov and was rooting like hell for him to KO Bradley, but Bradley hung tough. I like Provodnikov’s style. The guy is a no nonsense, all action bruiser. I hope he drops back down to 140 and raises hell there. I kept wishing Ruslan would go to the body more and not over exert himself when he had Bradley hurt. I really feel like after the 2nd round he was almost spent. I feel if Ruslan had been more patient and economical with his punches, Bradley might not have survived those rough spots. I also realize I wasn’t the one in there giving and taking the punishment and this email is about 17 universes more easy to do than what Tim Bradley and Ruslan Provodnikov did last night. At any rate, that was a really good fight as well as a really good surprise. Didn’t think it’d be that good. Take care, Doug. – Jon
I was expecting a good fight but it obviously exceeded my expectations. I love surprises like that.
I agree that Bradley is one of the toughest fighters in the sport (and I like your nickname for him, “Cannonball Head,” although my personal favorite is “Thunder Dome” – hey, it beats “The Brick S___house”).
I hope Provodnikov stays at 147 pounds (where Roach wants him). I think he’s stronger and sharper at welterweight than he was at junior welterweight. Plus, the 140-pound division is already deep. More action fighters (and fights) are needed at welterweight. After a deserved rest, I’d love to see Provodnikov take on the winner of Paul Malignaggi-Adrien Broner or Marcos Maidana-Josesito Lopez or Andre Berto or Victor Ortiz (when he’s done dancing with the stars) or Keith Thurman or Vargas or Omotoso. Oh and a rematch with Timmy wouldn’t be a bad thing, either.
WHAT TO MAKE OF BRADLEY, PROVODNIKOV
It’s funny to say but I would like Bradley a lot more if he had a “2” in the defeat column.
It makes me wonder a bit about Pacquiao as well. If this raw Russian almost put Bradley away why didn’t Manny? – Stephen, Montreal
I don’t think Pacquiao, who has accomplished more than his wildest dreams could ever conjure, was anywhere near as hungry and motivated as Provodnikov was to fight Bradley. He was content do just enough to win the fight, which turned out to be a big mistake on his part.
Also, while Provodnikov certainly has his limitations, he’s not as raw as you think he is.
I know what you’re saying about Bradley. I was like that with Jermain Taylor. I admired his work ethic and humble personality but I thought he lost his first fight with Bernard Hopkins and his fights with Winky Wright and Cory Spinks. I admitI was rooting for Kelly Pavlik to score a knockout so Taylor wouldn’t win another undeserved decision. However, I became Taylor fan with his losing efforts against Pavlik (in their rematch), Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham.
I think Provodnikov fought well enough to earn a No. 10 or No. 9 ranking at welterweight. I believe Bradley should stay right where THE RING had him ranked before Saturday’s fight, at No. 8.
I also think that all of the hardcore whackos that got bent out of shape when we announced that THE RING welterweight title would be up for grabs in the FloydMayweather-Robert Guerrero fight because they viewed Bradley as a top-three or top-five 147 pounder will shut the f__k up now.
Provodnikov was definitely draining himself to make 140 pounds. And yes, I think Bradley was a little rusty Saturday night and entered the fight with a chip on his shoulder. God Bless him.
BRADLEY WAS KNOCKED DOWN TWICE
It’s been a long time.
Max Kellerman and Jim Lampley mentioned the questionable call numerous times during the broadcast, especially at the end of the fight.
I don’t think it was a clear-cut call for Russell to make. I think it certainly could have been ruled a knockdown. Nobody would have complained if the knockdown was called.
But the way it happened gave Bradley some wiggle room with the ref. He got caught and hurt by Provodnikov’s flush right hand but there was a delayed reaction to the punch. Bradley lurched forward to hold Provodnikov when he felt his legs buckle. Provodnikov messed up what could have been a more clear knockdown by shoving Bradley down to the canvas with his forearms instead of pushing the hurt fighter off to get a little distance in order to land clean follow-up punches.
I think Bradley made things look really bad for himself by jumping up too quick and flopping back to the canvas. I also think he was saved by the bell in the opening round, but the fact is that Russell was already reacting to Bradley being shoved down to his knees when the beltholder pulled his Trevor Berbick imitation.
I agree with Kellerman that the second round was the round where Provodnikov deserved the extra point. Provodnikov hurt Bradley much worse in the second round – repeatedly, and it looked like the ropes were the only thing keeping Bradley upright at one point (which could be ruled a technical knockdown if the ref saw fit).
What a great fight. I had it a draw. Everybody is going to talk about how good a fight it was. I want to talk about scoring a round. It was evident by the end of the fight that Bradley had rougher moments than Ruslan. How do we measure a big round from a regular round? If we have 10 points to use why not use them? Doesn’t make sense to me to change the 5 point system from the 10 point must scoring if you still going to use 5.
The second round was a big round for the Russian in which he had Bradley almost ko’ed, still most gave it a 10-9. It was a big significant round and should be scored with that in mind. Those big rounds were of more value than the ones Bradley pit patted his way out of them. Those were 10-9 rounds. The way Bradley was hurt is the equivalent of a knockdown in my eyes. With that in mind. I still scored two 10-8 rounds in the fight. The second and the twelfth and had the 1st, 6th and 11th for Ruslan too. 113-113.
Now the first round. Why don’t referees score knockdowns when it’s obvious the guy fell from the punch that landed, even if it wasn’t immediate? Some boxers grab a lot and hold on the other fighter camouflaging their own knockdowns. I thought Bradley was clearly down by the effect of the punch not by a slip.
Thanks Doug. – Juan Valverde, Tijuana
Bradley may or may not have gone down from the effect of that big right hand he ate in the first round. We’ll never know for sure because Provodnikov gave him a little help in going down with his forearm shove. Bradley went down again when he popped up too quickly, which lets us know his legs were not under him.
He was definitely hurt. However, he was winning that round before he got caught. He was also putting hands on Provodnikov before getting rocked in the second and sixth rounds, which judges take into consideration when deciding whether to score a non-knockdown round 10-8.
By the way, while Bradley doesn’t hit as hard as Provodnikov I don’t think it’s fair to describe his punches as “pitty pats.” Did you not notice the Russian’s face by the late rounds? He was starting to look like the Elephant Man. And Bradley was definitely hurting him to the body. Roach would not have contemplated stopping the fight if his fighter wasn’t absorbing too much punishment.
This fight was not a robbery. It was a close fight. A lot of fans scored it a draw, as you did. I have no problem with that score, but I scored it for Bradley by one point, 114-113, like two of the official judges.
I scored seven rounds for Bradley (three, four, five, seven, eight, nine and 10); five for Provodnikov (one, two, six, 11 and 12 – with Bradley losing an extra point in the final round). I thought the 10th round was close. Watching it live, I almost scored it for Provodnikov but I thought Bradley JUST edged him by landing a few more clean shots.
I agree that both rounds one and two COULD have been scored 10-8 for Provodnikov, but I also think an argument can be made for them being 10-9. If Bradley had just been badly hurt in both rounds without having any success of his own, I’d say he definitely should have lost a point. But he outworked Provodnikov in both rounds and landed his share of significant blows. Same deal in the sixth. Even though he was practically out on his feet in the final seconds of the rounds he was throwing back like a madman and he was landing punches.
Photos / Naoki Fukuda
Email Dougie at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @dougiefischer