HBO Boxing Preview: Tim Bradley vs. Ruslan Provodnikov, Vargas/Omotoso


By: William Holmes

It’s been nearly a year since we’ve seen Timothy Bradley inside the ring. But after a long layoff and multiple failed attempts at landing a big name fight, he finally returns to the ring on Saturday night in Carson California against Ruslan Provodnikov.

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Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank

Highly regarded prospect Jessie Vargas also fights on Saturday’s card against Wale Omotosu in the welterweight division. A win for Vargas should lead to possible fights against other welterweight and junior welterweight Top Rank stablemates.

The following is a preview of both bouts.

Jessie Vargas (21-0) vs. Wale Omotoso (23-0); Welterweight Division

The opening bout of the night is an intriguing bout between two undefeated prospects in the welterweight division who have not been seriously tested thus far in their career. They’re both undefeated, both in their primes, and both are hunting for big named opponents that will lead to serious pay days.

The winner will likely land a bigger bout against a big named opponent that the exposure on HBO usually brings, and the loser will likely fade back into obscurity.

Jessie Vargas comes from a deep amateur background and was a two time Mexican National Champion, a two time U.S. Junior National Champion, and a member of the 2008 Olympic Mexican team.

He’ll have a slight height and reach advantage on Saturday night. Only nine of his fights have resulted in a stoppage victory. He’s been brought along slowly and has been matched up against opponents that he have had little to zero chance of beating him with the exception of Josesito Lopez. His most impressive victories to date have been against Vivia Harris, Lanardo Tyner, Steve Forbes, Josesito Lopez, Aaron Martinez, and the previously mentioned Josesito Lopez.

He fought Lopez in 2011 and won by a split decision. It would have been a unanimous decision if he was not deducted a point for a low blow in the 8th round. Vargas’ past five fights have went to a decision, which probably explains why he has yet to fight on HBO.

There’s one thing you can’t doubt about Omotso, he’s mentally tough. He grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and used to run with a street gang and avoid bullets on the streets which helped earn him the nickname “Lucky Boy”. He later moved to Australia and is currently trained by Freddie Roach.

He’s an orthodox fighter with an impressive knockout ratio. Nineteen of his twenty three victories have resulted in a stoppage. He’s fought four times in 2012 and has been extremely active. He’s spent most of his career fighting in Australia and his first fight in the United States occurred in September of 2011.

The opponents he’s face at this point of his career pale in comparison to Jessie Vargas. The only well known fighters that he has defeated are Lanardo Tyner and Emanuel Augustus.

Omotoso has the type of background story that makes him an intriguing prospect, but Vargas will be too talented for him to handle.

Timothy Bradley (29-0) vs. Ruslan Provodniov (22-1); WBO Welterweight Title

Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley will be making his first title defense against ESPN Friday Night Fights favorite Ruslan Provodnikov. Bradley has had to endure nearly a year of listening to critics call his victory over Manny Pacquiao a robbery and will be looking to make an impressive showing inside the ring.

Bradley has spent his entire career fighting top named opponents and defeating them. He’s a former Lightweight Champion and a former Welterweight champion. The recent success of some of his former defeated opponents shows how good Timothy Bradley really is.

Bradley is short for a welterweight, but his opponent is the same size. He’s not known for his power, only twelve of his victories have come by way of stoppage. But he is known for his defense, his slickness, and his ability to take away his opponent’s strength.

Bradley has defeated the likes of Joel Casamayor, Devon Alexander, Lamont Peterson, Nate Campbell, Kendall Holt, Edner Cherry, Junior Witter, and Miguel Vazquez.

His opponent, Ruslan Provodnikov, has had plenty of television exposure over the years, but he’s never fought on HBO. This is Provodnikov’s first chance at a well known opponent and he’s hungry to take advantage of it.

Provodnikov has decent power, fifteen of his twenty two victories have resulted in a stoppage. However, Provodnikov is hoping that Freddie Roach can help refine his offensive skills like he did with sparring partner Manny Pacquiao.

It will also help Provodnikov that Pacquiao and Roach have previously fought Bradley and are familiar with his style.

Provodnikov lone loss came in January of 2011 to Mauricio Herrera by a unanimous decision. He has since won five fight in a row and four of them have resulted in a stoppage.

This will be Provodnikov first fight in the welterweight division, but size should not be an issue since Bradley has spent most of his career fighting as a junior welterweight.

Provodnikov has not faced anywhere near the type of high caliber opponents that Timothy Bradley has faced. The biggest name he’s defeated in his career was DeMarcus Corley.

An upset wouldn’t be shocking, especially since Provodnikov currently trains with Freddie Roach. But Bradley is hungry and longs to silence his critics since his Pacquiao victory. He’s chasing bigger paydays, and Provodnikov won’t be the one to stop him from his goal.

Timothy Bradley Jr. vs. Ruslan Provodnikov, 12 rounds, for Bradley’s WBO welterweight title; Jessie Vargas vs. Wale Omotosu, 10 rounds, welterweights;

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