Getting caught with big right hands from Ruslan Provodnikov like this one nearly caused Tim Bradley to lose his WBO welterweight title. Although Bradley survived the unheralded challenger’s onslaught, his life-and-death struggle caused him to drop a spot in THE RING’s pound-for-pound ratings.
Boxing fans witnessed a few interesting matchups, along with a fight-of-the-year candidate between Tim Bradley and Ruslan Provodnikov, this past weekend, which opened THE RING’s Ratings Panel to discussions on several placements.
Bradley and Provodnikov fought a terrific fight in the welterweight division on Saturday. Although Bradley was nearly overwhelmed by the power of Provodnikov several times in the fight, the WBO welterweight titleholder walked away with a very close unanimous decision win.
This prompted some Panel members to comment on referee Pat Russell’s decision not to award Provodnikov a knockdown in the first round of the fight. Russell ruled it a slip instead of a knockdown after Provodnikov gave Bradley a slight shove with his forearms after rocking the undefeated fighter with a big right hand near the end of the round.
Comments were made that if the referee had ruled two knockdowns against Bradley instead of one (in the final round), Provodnikov would have won the bout, or at least salvaged a draw. However, the referee has the final say in the ring and the fight was scored accordingly. The judges cannot take a point in a round that isn’t brutally one-sided if the referee doesn’t rule a knockdown. The final score indicated that it was a close fight.
Some panelists thought Provodnikov, who is rated No. 10 at junior welterweight, deserved to be rated in the lower part of THE RING’s welterweight rankings based on his impressive performance against Bradley.
However, although Provodnikov gave a good account of himself, the Editorial Board decided to leave the rugged Russian fighter in the 140-pound ratings. Provodnikov’s trainer Freddie Roach has stated that Provodnikov, who fought his first significant 147-pound bout against Bradley, will not return to junior welterweight, but that remains to be seen.
THE RING will revisit Provodnikov’s weight class situation after his next fight. If he faces a solid opponent at welterweight – and performs well – he will, of course, receive consideration for a 147-pound ranking.
Bradley will remain No. 7 in the 147-pound ranking.
However, the fact that Bradley went life and death with an unrated welterweight (who some even considered a fringe contender at 140 pounds) after winning a highly controversial decision over Manny Pacquiao last June has caused the 29-year-old veteran to drop a spot in THE RING’s pound-for-pound ratings.
Bradley drops from No. 9 to No. 10, switching places with Robert Guerrero.
The co-featured bout to Bradley-Provodnikov, a showdown between young unbeaten welterweights Jessie Vargas and Wale Omotoso, also produced a terrific fight that Vargas won by unanimous decision. Both fighters raised their game and stature in the sport with their spirited efforts but it wasn’t enough for either to break into the welterweight top 10.
Denis Shafikov dropped down from junior welterweight, where THE RING ranks him No. 9, to lightweight where he won by DQ in the 11th round over Alisher Rahimov. We have not verified if Shafikov will remain at lightweight or move back up to 140 pounds, so he will remain the No. 9-rated junior welterweight for the time being.
At featherweight, prospect and former 122-pound title challenger Robert Marroquin scored a TKO in the third round over a faded Antonio Escalante. No change in the rankings.
At bantamweight, veteran Kohei Oba scored a competitive 10-round unanimous decision over Zerofit Jerope for the Japanese national title. Former 108-pound beltholder Roberto Vasquez and John Mark Apolinario fought to a 12-round draw in Vasquez’s native Panama. No rankings for any of these fighters at this time.
At junior flyweight, beltholder John Riel Casimero traveled from the Philippines to widely outpoint Luis Alberto Rios in the challenger’s native Panama.
Rios is dropped from THE RING ratings, while Casimero will move up one spot to No. 6 (displacing Thai vet Kompayak Porpramook to No. 7). Rios will be replaced by Felix Alvarado (15-0, 12 knockouts), Nicaragua’s national titleholder, in the No. 10 spot.
Veteran Alberto Rossel out-pointed former title challenger Walter Tello over 12 rounds in his native Peru. No movement in the rankings for either Rossel or Tello.
THE RING championship title schedule/ announcements:
Junior featherweight: RING champion Nonito Donaire will defend his title against No. 1- rated Guillermo Rigondeaux on April 13.
Junior middleweight: No. 2-rated Saul Alvarez and No. 3-rated Austin Trout will fight for the vacant RING championship on April 20.
Welterweight: No. 1-rated Floyd Mayweather and No. 3-rated Roberto Guerrero will fight for the vacant RING championship on May 4.
Photos / Naoki Fukuda