By Kirk Jackson
He got clobbered and knocked all around the ring but he stumbled to the finish line victorious.
Just as he has done his entire career it seems. He did it against Kendall Holt, he did it against Manny Pacquiao and he did it again this past weekend.
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
Timothy Bradley endured a much tougher fight, than what many fans and critics expected, earning a unanimous decision against Ruslan Provodnikov.
Over the course of 12 hard fought rounds, Bradley was bruised, battered and knocked down in the waning moments of the fight. The tough challenger Provodnikov seemed to connect at will with a series of powerful looping right hands, but Bradley was able to win this war of attrition.
Bradley won the middle rounds, outworking Provodnikov which his effective punch output. This is a trend seen in all of Bradley’s fights.
Although many people in the crowd and people watching at home may think Provodnikov won the fight based on the multiple times he was able to seriously hurt Bradley, which included a knockdown in the 12th round, Bradley was able to survive the wave of punches and score effectively for a majority of the fight.
Many of those viewers will not take into account the punch output and overall effectiveness he had during the middle rounds and during most of the championship rounds of this fight.
Although this is the kind of gutsy performance that should earn Bradley respect and a legion of fans, the reality is that probably will not be the case.
It’s an issue that has followed Bradley throughout his career and seemingly intensified with his last fight against Pacquiao back in 2012.
Bradley has captured world titles in multiple divisions, has arguably been an elite fighter for the past three or four years.
He defeated the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Lamont Peterson, Devon Alexander, Kendall Holt, Joel Casamayor and Nate Campbell. Albeit Casamayor and Campbell were past their primes, Bradley has amassed a solid resume over the past couple of years.
He was the No. 1 Junior Welterweight in the world, moved up in weight class and defeated one of the top-two Welterweight and P4P fighters in the world Manny Pacquiao, and he was not in the Top Five ratings for his division after that performance.
Provodnikov out on a stronger performance than Pacquiao, and Bradley still pulled out a victory.
But for whatever reason, he does not have a huge fan base and I don’t think enough attention and respect is given to him.
He does not have the personality of a Floyd Mayweather to draw the attention of a non-casual fan. He does not have the excitement factor of a Manny Pacquiao or Mike Tyson.
But he does have the heart of a warrior, like an Arturo Gatti. His will to win is prevalent in all his fights and it was especially highlighted this past weekend against Provodnikov. Bradley has defensive deficiencies and the vulnerability to his chin creates interesting theater. His lack of power does hurt him because of his style at certain points.
There were times in the fight when Bradley seemed out on his feet, legs completely gone, embracing punches to the head yet somehow throwing punches in return.
It’s that kind of reckless abandon that wins over most fans. But so far for Bradley it’s a different story.
Going forward Bradley will have his sights set on bigger fights, namely against guys like Floyd Mayweather, Juan Manuel Marquez and maybe even a rematch against Manny Pacquiao. With a proposed Top Rank welterweight tournament it’s uncertain if a Mayweather match, or any kind of a match with any non Top Rank fighters will happen in the future.
One thing is clear; Bradley is one of the best at 147 and should be regarded as one of the best fighters in the sport. From here on out, Bradley is fighting more than just his opponents in the ring. He is battling scrutiny and battling for respect.
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