WBO welterweight titlist Tim
Bradley is shopping for an adversary to defend his belt against on December 15
and as late as Tuesday evening, it appeared to be down to two men, Lamont Peterson and Ruslan Provodnikov, both 140-pound
fighters of different distinction.
Former two-belt champ Lamont
Peterson, whom Bradley won a decision over in 2009 (by scores of 120-107, 119-108
and 118-110), is being reported by both Steve Kim’s Twitter account (@stevemaxboxing)
and Badlefthook.com as the frontrunner for the showdown in
Miami. The first outing was competitively one-sided, to be fair.
Wherever they are in the running,
Peterson and his trainer, Barry Hunter, won a $50,000 purse bid for a bout with
Zab Judah on Tuesday morning, with Peterson’s IBF junior welterweight belt up
for grabs. My own sources told me that the fight was something Peterson was focused
on at the moment. However, a fight with Tim Bradley for a welter belt might be
just the medicine Peterson is looking for to cure his ailing public profile
following his positive test for synthetic testosterone under the Voluntary
Anti-Doping Agency (VADA) testing earlier this year. To date, Peterson has not
pled his case before a commission for licensure. Something tells me Florida
will be amendable to giving him one.
other candidate, Ruslan Provodnikov, is not a former champ. Some might argue on
Twitter that he will never win a belt because he swells a bit too much or has a
swarming style that a good boxer will negate with straight shots down the pipe.
They might argue that his power is not world-class. However, it says here that
this candidate is just the man to bring the fight out of Tim Bradley, who -
let’s face it - has never been accused of being super-exciting on his own.
think my career is long enough and I think the time has come for me to be in a
big fight,” Provodnikov told Maxboxing.com Monday evening from his home in
Beryozovo, Russia, where he lives with his wife and child. “Even if some think
I am not ready, I think the time has come for it. I am not one of those that
will say, ‘I will beat anybody’ or I will do this or that. Even though I think
I can win the fight, I cannot guarantee that. But I can guarantee it will be a great show and an extraordinary fight. I
think it would be one of the best fights of the year.”
is likely best known for two things. The first is his bout with Mauricio
Herrera in January of 2011. The fight is the reason there is a “1” in
Provodnikov’s 22-1 (15) career. The fight was all action and both men came away
feeling they had won. It’s been a bone of contention for both fighters who
mutually talk of a rematch to settle the score. Provodnikov has won five
fights since then against ESPN-level opposition has yet to face an HBO-level
opponent, much less fight on that network.
Provodnikov is also known
for being the star sparring partner of the last Manny Pacquiao camp, coincidentally, in preparation
for Tim Bradley. It’s an interesting wild card (no pun intended) for the
Freddie Roach-trained fighter to play. He’s had a good long look at Bradley.
Freddie chose me as a sparring partner for Manny to prepare for Bradley,” he
said, “he told me, physically, I am the same as Bradley as far as height and
length. My style and my tactics are similar to Bradley as well. Freddie told me
to be myself because he had worked with me for the preparation for my fight
right before [the Bradley camp began]. He knew my style and how I box. He
told me just the way I am is very similar to Bradley. He wanted me to spar as I
usually spar. I remained myself. I think that worked.”
fact, through that process of trying to “just be himself,” Provodnikov had
several breakthroughs as a fighter. Among them was conditioning as a champion
on the level a Manny Pacquiao does. Another was a newfound fluidity as his
attack shifted up and down on an opponent. This was displayed in his last fight
against Jose Reynoso. He was more active in the upper body and sharper than
feels the style match-up with Bradley will make for spontaneous combustion.
styles are very similar. Neither of us wants to take a step back,” he said. “So
I think that will play out to be a great fight. Both of us like to fight. We
aren't going to move away from each other.”
asked if he saw any mistakes Bradley made that he could capitalize on.
was at the fight live and was rooting for Manny. I didn’t watch for all the mistakes
that Bradley was making but as soon as I found out that I was being considered
for this fight, I started thinking about the fight. I began to watch [Bradley
vs. Pacquiao] over again,” he explained. “I saw some things. I won’t disclose
the things that came into my mind. I am sure that Freddie and I will work
together because of the experience we have together. With Freddie having been
in the corner with Manny against Bradley, I think together we will find the
mistakes that Bradley makes. But I can say one thing. I think once Bradley
changed his tactic a little bit in the fight and started trying to pull Manny
towards himself instead of fighting toe-to-toe, I think that kind of changed
things for Manny. Just working from the experience with Manny and the
experience he had with Bradley, I think that I will be able to find certain
things for myself that will give me an advantage against Bradley.”
even so far away, reads the boxing trades and had a few things to say about it.
know HBO was interested in having me on in the past,” he began. “And recently,
I read a lot of articles that said I wasn't ready for this fight or I am not
worthy of this fight. They don't consider me a good opponent for Bradley and
that it would not be a good fight for him. Well, I just want to say that a lot
of people can think different things. Until I am in the fight, it’s all talk.
Once the fight happens, we will see. This is one of the toughest fights that
Bradley has ever been in. I think the fight will prove a lot of people wrong
who think negatively upon the fight. It’s all talk until the fight happens.”
the end, Provodnikov understands the fight is not in his hands just yet. He
merely wanted to state his case and make the naysayers think for a second before
tweeting or braying further (respectfully, of course). To him, it’s all about
making an action fight that he believes he can win. Generally, I felt that was
always what we wanted our fighters to do. This is entertainment, after all.
“It will be up to Tim
Bradley. No matter what I say, it will probably not change their decision. But
I just want to say there are people out there saying that Bradley may not be
the best because of [how the Manny fight went]. But we know he has been on that
level. But for him, it’s also a chance to not fight the easiest fight. For him,
it’s important to choose an opponent who can give him a fight, that can punch.
It will also give Bradley a chance to redeem himself after the last fight where
the decision was talked about for a couple months after the fight. We hope
Bradley picks us because if he does, we will take the fight right away. We
won’t hesitate. This is a fight that will create fireworks and that is what
everybody wants. That is what Bradley wants. That’s what we want and that’s
what the fans want.”
It’s easy to forget most
media (not me but most) picked Pacquiao overwhelmingly to beat Bradley, who
eventually was given a split decision. It doesn’t always have to be best vs.
best. Look at Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado. Do we care what belt it’s for?
No. Is it going to be exciting? Yes, it is. That is very possible in this case,
in my opinion.