Timothy Bradley, Jr. survived a late knockdown in the 12th round to escape with a unanimous but close decision over challenger Ruslan Provodnikov of Russia and retain his World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight belt.
In his first defense of the title he grabbed from Manny Pacquiao via a controversial split decision last June, Bradley was in serious trouble near the end of the fight after the Russian connected with a huge right and sent him down. Only the final bell saved Bradley from a potential knockout loss, and he hung on to claim a 114-113, 114-113, and 115-112 decision at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
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Provodnikov dominated the first two rounds, sending Bradley down in the first only to have referee Pat Russell rule it a trip. Then he almost ended the fight in the second after bombarding Bradley with lethal hooks. But the American somehow stayed on his feet and began to assert himself in the third round, gradually gaining control of match throughout the middle rounds with good jabs before Provodnikov, sporting a cut above his left eye that worsened to the point that his trainer Freddie Roach threatened to stop the fight before the 10th round, came back in the championship rounds with some solid punching to nearly steal a win.
A left hook by Provodnikov with less than 40 seconds left in the 12th sent Bradley staggering into the ropes. The Russian followed up with a few more solid hits before Bradley finally went down on one knee with only 12 seconds left. He got up at the count of seven and just as Russell signaled both fighters to engage again, the final bell sounded, saving Bradley from further punishment.
The bout was marked by furious exchanges all throughout, and it’s a minor miracle there was only one knockdown.
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Provodnikov inflicted so much damage in the opening two rounds that Bradley said afterwards he most likely got a concussion.
“I know I got a concussion early in the fight,” Bradley was quoted as saying. “This guy is a warrior. [Provodnikov] would beat any 147-pound fighter out there.”
The decision was met by a mixture of boos and cheers, as some sportswriters covering at ringside had it a 113-113 draw on the strength of what they felt was a 10-8 second round for Provodnikov.
Bradley stayed in undefeated in 30 bouts, with 12 knockouts, while Provodnikov dropped to 22-2, with 15 knockouts.
VIEW SLIDESHOW OF THE FIGHT: