You didn't hear anyone, anywhere, predicting that the main event fight between Tim Bradley and Ruslan Provodnikov at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA on Saturday night could be a fight of the year candidate.
It was, bigtime.
Bradley got hurt in the first, second sixth and 12th, badly, but only went down, officially, in the final round. To Bradley's immense credit, he somehow shook off the hard clean blows, and somehow, we went to the cards: Denkin and Cantu had it 114-113, Caiz had it 115-112, for Bradley.
I was too excited to score round by round, but a case could be made that the "loser" deserved to win three rounds 10-8, so the mathmeticians need to be called in. I say we let it get sorted out in a rematch. Would Bradley, the "name" guy, agree to that? Probably not, he has easier fights for better money to do...But the man is a warrior, so maybe we could be pleasantly suprised.
Bradley went 347-1000, to 218-676 for the "loser." Bradley told Max Kellerman after that he was concussed in some round, not sure when. He said he was dizzy right then. Ruslan told Max that he thought he won. "Everybody saw what I did in the ring," he said. Ruslan said he didn't feel Ruslan's punches.
Bradley (29-0 entering; age 29; 146 1/2) went to 159 and Ruslan (22-1 with 15 KOs entering; age 29; 146 1/2) went to 150 pounds on the night of the fight.
The Siberian-born Ruslan said in pre-fights interviews that as a kid, he loved to fight. He said everyone in his town watches when he fights. Growing up, his family ate off the fat of the land and he didn't see packaged food for awhile. Bradley still seems emotional at the disrespect he got after "beating" Manny Pacquiao. He also gained about forty pounds after the "win."
In the first, Bradley got knocked down but the ref ruled it a slip. He was hurt by an overhand right and he went to his knee. Trainer Joel Diaz told him after to be smart. Ruslan, grinning, threw bombs, and came forward. Bradley was out on his feet for the last part of the round in a crazy round two. Left hooks hurt Bradley badly.
In the third, Ruslan rested some. Tim got busier, and Ruslan kept smiling and sticking his tongue out. In the fourth, a right hand landed after Bradley threw four jabs. Tim scored with a nasty uppercut with a minute left. Freddie Roach called for a left feint-right over the top after the round.
In round five, Bradley boxed smarter, and the Siberian had slowed down. In the sixth, Bradley's left hooks to the body were nasty, as they were in the fifth. A left hook hurt Tim but he stayed on his feet, barely.
In the seventh, Tim moved a lot. His trainer had barked at him to be smarter, and not trade.
In the eighth, Tim again moved more. He popped a jab, moved left and right and Ruslan wasn't able to adapt. Roach told Ruslan to get busy, and said he ate too much in that round.
In round nine, we saw blood on Ruslan, from his left eye. It had opened up in the first half and was staunched. He was hurt but kept throwing bombs himself, with both hands.
In the tenth, Roach said he was close to stopping the fight, talking to Max Kellerman. Bradley moved and kept the distance to his liking mostly. Roach told Ruslan to try for the KO or he'd end the fight. In the 11th, Bradley forgot to move, to fans' delight. Ruslan heard Freddie and was quite busy.
In the 12th, Bradley moved, then stood his ground and traded. A left hook hurt Tim with 55 seconds left, and then a right damaged him more. He took a knee as the clock ticked down. The bell sounded before Ruslan could get on him.
Check back for David Avila's ringside report.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV