Russian-born Ruslan Provodnikov challenges California-born Tim "Desert Storm" Bradley for the WBO welterweight title on Saturday.
Not so long ago, this fight would never have happened.
Bradley (29-0, 12 Kos; pictured above in photo by Chris Farina of Top Rank) defends the WBO title against rugged challenger Provodnikov (22-1, 15 Kos) on Saturday March 16, at the Home Depot Center. HBO will televise the Top Rank event. Its significance is largely diluted in this day and age.
The Cold War kept many of the best boxers from Russia, China and Cuba from exhibiting their skills until the last two decades. A number of great boxers from those countries were never able to showcase their high level talent, such as Cuba's Teofilo Stevenson who passed away last year and his fellow countryman Felix Savon, and Hungary's Laszlo Papp. All three boxers won three Olympic gold medals.
Boxing fans are lucky that those restrictions of the Cold War no longer exist.
Russia has always had a love affair with boxing. With its massive population and addiction to sports, there are really two sports that its athletes swerve toward and those are soccer and boxing. They love to fight.
Provodnikov and other Russians and boxers from Eastern Europe have been coming to this country to learn the professional style of boxing. Most are polished in the international amateur style but not so much in the pro style.
A power puncher like Provodnikov has always had the pro power punching style so the adjustment hasn't been much. His trainer for the last three fights believes he has the right tools to beat anyone, including Bradley.
"He knows how to fight and he knows the art of boxing," said Freddie Roach. "He is looking pretty good and we're doing what we need to get ready for this fight."
Provodnikov's only loss came to Riverside's Mauricio "El Maestro" Herrera two years ago in Las Vegas. That same fighter is sparring Bradley in preparation for this encounter.
"I heard that Bradley is using Herrera for sparring but they don't know what kind of preparations I had for that fight or what kind of trainer I had," said Provodnikov. "My training camp now is completely different."
What also may be different is the kind of fighting approach Bradley partakes. You never know with the Desert Storm.
For most of his life he's been one of the few African-American fighters in gyms filled to the brim with Latinos. Because of the virtual culture clash of boxing styles, Bradley has soaked up knowledge since his youth on how to beat this or that style and when to implement changes to his own fighting approach when necessary.
Basically, Bradley is kind of like a boxing chameleon. He can Sugar Shane Mosley you, he can Juan Manuel Marquez an opponent, or he can brawl like an alley cat stuck in a dead end with a pit bull blocking the entrance. There is no definitive Bradley style. It's what makes it so difficult for opponents.
Probably the most important factor in his boxing weaponry is his confidence. He oozes confidence.
"I am not worried about anything he is going to bring. He is going to stand in the middle of the ring. I know exactly how to beat this guy - outbox him," says Bradley. "Provodnikov has to worry about me, I am not worried about him."
Russia's Provodnikov fights America's Bradley.
Other fight chatter
Khabir Suleymanov (13-3) fights Raymond Chacon (4-5) in a junior featherweight match on Thursday March 14, at Florentine Gardens in Hollywood. Also on the card is Oxnard's Javier Garcia (8-2-2, 7 Kos) facing Rasool Shakoor (3-11-1) in a junior lightweight bout. For more information call Bash Boxing at (213) 700-7001.
UFC 158 features Georges St. Pierre (23-2) defending the welterweight championship against Nick Diaz (27-8-1) on Saturday March 16. Their title bout takes place in Montreal, Canada. Also on the MMA card is Carlos Condit (28-6) fighting Johny Hendricks (14-1), Jake Ellenberger (28-6) facing Nate Marquardt (35-11-2) and Nick Ring (13-1) against Chris Camozzi (18-5). The fights will be on pay-per-view.
Naim Nelson (9-0) fights Georgi Kevlishvili (12-4) in a lightweight clash on Friday March 15, in Valley Forge, Penn. Also, Harry Joe Yorgey (25-2-1) faces Julius Kennedy (7-3-1) in a junior middleweight bout. King's Promotions is staging the event.
Peter Manfredo Jr. (38-7) meets Walter Wright (14-3) in a super middleweight battle that features two former alums from the Contender reality TV series. Their match takes place on Friday March 15 at Lincoln, Rhode Island.
Yesica Bopp (23-0) defends the WBA and WBO junior flyweight world titles against Venezuela's Carolina Alvarez (12-4-2) on Friday March 15. The world championship will be held in Bopp's native Argentina.
Former world champion Jorge Linares (32-3) meets David Rodela (16-7-3) in a lightweight fight set for 10 rounds on Saturday in Cancun, Mexico. Also, U.S. Olympian Joseph Diaz and former amateur star Julian Ramirez are scheduled to fight in separate bouts.
WBC female lightweight titlist Erica Farias (16-0, 9 Kos) knocked out challenger Liliana Palmera (21-10-3) in the third round to keep the title. The match took place on Saturday in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was Farias' fifth successful world title defense.
Popular Alfredo "Perro" Angulo said that he's waiting for the call from Golden Boy Promotions to fight for the junior middleweight title. "Whatever they say I will do," said Angulo, including possibly fighting IBF titleholder Ishe Smith or WBC titleholder Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, after he faces Austin Trout.
Darren Barker (24-1, 15 Kos) stopped Simone Rotolo (35-4, 15 Kos) in round four of their middleweight clash on Saturday. The match was held in London, England. Barker's only loss came against current middleweight world champion Sergio Martinez.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV