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Bradley Provodnikov 130316 002aCARSON-WBO titleholder Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley escaped with his title after 12 eye-popping rounds in hand-to-hand combat with Russia’s Ruslan “Siberian Rocky” Provodnikov on Saturday.

Wow.

Bradley (30-0, 12 Kos) didn’t have to swing away against power punching Provodnikov (22-2, 15 Kos) before 3,000 fans. He could’ve boxed and moved and everything could have been much easier. Instead he hammered away and got hammered in winning a close and raucous slugfest by unanimous decision at the Home Depot Center.

It looked dim for Bradley (above, right, in pic by Chris Farina-Top Rank) in the opening round as he caught a right hand flush and staggered around the ring for several seconds and fell down. Referee Pat Russell did not rule it a knockdown but Bradley was clearly hurt nonetheless. It was amazing that the titleholder remained in the fight.

Still groggy, Bradley seemed ripe for a knockout as Provodnikov unloaded with the heavy artillery in the second round. Bradley refused to go down though he was hurt and groggy. The extra blows fired by Provodnikov took its toll as he seemed exhausted at the end of the round.

“I was concussed,” said Bradley after to Max Kellerman in the ring. “I know because I’m still dizzy.”

Bradley took advantage of a spent Provodnikov in rounds three and four. The Palm Springs fighter peppered the Russian with combinations and used the jab to score points during a lull in the action. Provodnikov had some moments but not enough energy after spending so much earlier trying to knock out the champion.

After winning three rounds in a row Bradley was caught with a left hook and wobbled in round six. The Russian attacked looking for the knockout and Bradley stood toe to toe urging him on though he was clearly hurt. It was the best round so far.

“He tried to fight him straight up,” said Joel Diaz, Bradley’s trainer.

On his toes Bradley was able to reclaim the momentum as Provodnikov waited for an opportunity to land one of his Russian bombs. Bradley’s movement never allowed the challenger to unload. Instead it was jab and move as he racked up rounds.

A trap set by Bradley in the ninth round nearly toppled Provodnikov who walked into a set up right cross. Bradley tried to finish the Russian but a left hook stopped that notion. Still, Bradley won the round. In the corner Provodnikov’s trainer Freddie Roach looked concerned about the damage his fighter incurred.

Provodnikov increased the tempo during the last three rounds with more pressure as Bradley seemed to slow down. A short right cross staggered Bradley who managed to fight his way out of trouble in toe-to-toe action.

With Provodnikov moving in looking for the knockout in the final round, Bradley couldn’t seem to get on his toes to stay away from danger. A right hand connected as did some lefts by Provodnikov as Bradley teetered all over the ring. Finally, caught in the corner, Bradley took a knee after a right hand. He got up and soon the bell rang ending the tumultuous fight.

“Win or lose you’re a great warrior,” Bradley told Provodnikov at the final bell. “He’s much more powerful than (Manny) Pacquiao.”

Many of the fans roared their approval at the end of the fight perhaps thinking that the title would change hands. But all three judges saw it for Bradley; 114-113 according to judges Marty Denkin and Jerry Cantu. A third judge, Raul Caiz,  saw it 115-112 for Bradley.

A swollen and weary Bradley was spent after the fight.

“I wanted to give some action,” Bradley said.

Boy did he ever.

Other bouts

Two undefeated welterweights clashed for a regional title but there was a lot more riding on the victory. After 10 back and forth rounds Jessie Vargas (22-0, 9 Kos) survived a second round knockdown to win by unanimous decision against L.A.-based Wale Omotoso (23-1, 19 Kos).

“I thought I won the fight easily,” said Omotoso. “I was stronger than him.”

Omotoso floored Vargas with a body shot in the second round. But in round five Vargas connected with some vicious blows and had Omotoso teetering throughout the round. From that point on it became a battle of strategy.

“It was my right hand that won the fight,” said Vargas. “We worked on it all through camp.”

Two judges, Fritz Werner and Jonathan Davis scored it 96-93 for Vargas and judge Gwen Adair had it 97-92 for the Las Vegas boxer.

Prelim bouts

Mexican Olympian Cesar Valdez (4-0, 3 Kos) bludgeoned fellow Sonora Mexican Carlos Gonzalez (1-3) for three rounds of a featherweight clash. Gonzalez never went down but was repeatedly hammered by the sharp-shooting Valdez. After a series of brutal blows by Valdez the referee Tony Crebs smartly stopped the fight 58 seconds into the fourth round. Valdez was deemed the winner by technical knockout.

Indio’s featherweight Gabino Saenz (9-0-1, 8 Kos) came on like gangbusters against Arizona’s Cesar Valenzuela (4-2-1, 2 Kos) and knocked out the visitor in the second round. Saenz caught Valenzuela with an overhand right for a first round knockdown. Then, after Valenzuela beat the count, a left hook dropped him again. Once again he survived. However, round two saw Saenz catch Valenzuela walking into a right hand and down he went for good for a knockout at 2:02 of frame. It was one of the most brutal knockouts of the year to this point.

Las Vegas featherweight knockout artist Jesse Magdaleno (14-0, 10 Kos) erupted quickly against Dominican Republic’s Carlos Fulgencio (18-10-1, 12 Kos) and mowed through the taller fighter quickly. A double left hook to the body and head floored Fulgencio early in the first round. In the second round a right and left hand combination floored the Dominican a second time. Finally, in round three a Magdaleno right uppercut and several follow up right hands had Fulgencio knocked out on his feet. Referee Tony Crebs stopped the fight at 45 seconds into the round.

Houston’s Victor Sanchez (4-5-1) got his first knockout when he caught East L.A.’s Ramon Valadez (11-4, 6 Kos) in the first round of a featherweight match. During an exchange of punches Valadez caught a left hook and collapsed. He beat the count but was unable to survive another attack. Referee Jack Reiss stopped the fight at 2:39 of the first round.

Mexican heavyweight Andy “The Destroyer” Ruiz (18-0, 12 Kos) riddled Matt Greer (15-10, 13 Kos) with body shots that opened up his guard and allowed a flurry of blows to the head. Greer was floored three times total by the quick-punching heavyweight from Mexicali. A right hand to the head knocked down Greer a final time and referee Reiss stopped the fight at 2:53 of the first round.

A battle between two pro rookie junior middleweights saw Oxnard’s Egidijus Kavaliauskas (1-0) beat Inglewood’s Eridanni Quintero (0-1) by unanimous decision after four rounds.

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