We like stoppages. We just do. Does that make us savages? Nah, we do so many other things which remind us that we are animals, looking for finishes in fights is about 997 on the list. But let's put it this way…more people will be talking about Keith Thurman on Monday morning if he takes out Jan Zaveck in vicious fashion than were talking about ultra-skilled Gary Russell Jr. on Monday morning after he did his thing but couldn't stop Vyacheslav Gusev in Vegas.
This brings me to Timothy Bradley–he fights Russian Ruslan Provodnikov Saturday, March 16, in his first outing since beating, or “beating,” Manny Pavquiao last June, and on a Tuesday conference call to hype the scrap, we heard that Bradley is a new Bradley (29-0 with 12 KOs). We heard that he's grown, from trainer Joel Diaz, and that he might well be the first man to stop the Russian with the 22-1 mark. “Tim is really smart and now his punching power has now increased because we made some adjustments,” Diaz said. “You are going to see a different Tim Bradley on the 16th and don’t be surprised if it doesn’t go the distance.”
The two will tangle at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., and the bout will be broadcast live on HBO World Championship Boxing®, beginning at 10:15 P.M. ET / PT.
So anyway, the stoppage idea sounds good to me, and what with all the idiocy flowing from judges' pencils, who in their right mind would settle for a decision anyway?
“I am looking to make a statement in this fight and I am looking to damage this guy,” Bradley said. “I am looking to put this guy out. I don’t want to go 12 rounds with this guy. The longer he stays around the more confident he will get so I want to get him out of there as soon as possible.”
You got the sense that the “win” over Pacquiao didn't bring Bradley (photo above by Chris Farina-Top Rank) what he might have expected to gain from it. The win didn't bring him the megafight he'd expected, or the riches, or the respect. He said he's stopped reading about himself and now doesn't care what haters say. You felt for the guy when he shared how he got hammered after the win. “Some people talked about my wife, my kids,” he said. “People sent me death threats after the fight because I won undeservingly. (I got death threats thru the) mail and phone calls. I didn’t report anything. I am in my house and nobody will mess with me when I’m in my house. I didn’t really take them seriously. People were mad but I didn’t think they would come to my house and take me out. I don’t think that would ever happen.”
Yikes, think people take their sporting events a bit too seriously?
It is clear Bradley, all these months later, is still trying to figure out that Pacquiao fight, the result and the ramifications. When asked about Pacquiao's KO loss to Marquez, he said, “Do you want the devil's side or do you want to good side of me? One side said ‘that’s what you get for not re-matching me.’ The other side said ‘that was a helluva fight and I can’t believe what just happened.'
Trainer Diaz created some buzz when asked about Freddie Roach, who is training Provodnikov, and has for his last three bouts. “Freddie Roach is not my concern,” he said. “My concern is the fighter. Freddie Roach was just a name that was created. I think Freddie Roach lost the love of the sport. He created a name and it’s out there but he doesn’t have the compassion for the sport that he had a few years ago…Freddie Roach is always trying to play mind games. Freddie says Tim is going to run – that is just Freddie playing mind games. They don’t know how we are going to fight. He is trying to get under Tim’s skin. At the end of the day Tim is going to be a winner, and that’s what matters.”
Later, when he was on the line, Roach responded. “I could tell him where to go but he doesn’t know me,” he said. “He doesn’t know what I do every day. He doesn’t see me in the gym working with these fighters. I know he’s just saying it to get under my skin. I have a game plan and the right fighters to carry that game plan through and on the 16th we’ll see who’s the better coach or who’s the better man.” He then softened on Diaz. “I don’t read anything he says,” he said. “I just don’t have time for that. I'm sure he is a nice person outside of the ring.
Readers, could Provodnikov spring the upset?
(Remaining tickets to the Bradley-Provodnikov world welterweight championship event, priced at $200, $100, $50 and $25, can be purchased online at AXS.com or by phone at 888-929-7849 as well as The Home Depot Center Box Office (open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). Suites are available by calling 1-877-604-8777. For information of group discounts, please call 1-877-234-8425.)