NEW YORK — WBO welterweight beltholder Tim Bradley said he fought with too much emotion during last month’s unanimous decision victory over Ruslan Provodnikov, whom he considers the hardest puncher he has ever faced.
Bradley (30-0, 12 knockouts) rose from a 12th-round knockdown to defeat Provodnikov (22-2, 15 KOs) in defense of the title he won by disputed split-decision in June over Manny Pacquiao.
“I went in there kind of aggressively and I was looking to take him out and I found out that this kid could really punch, man,” said Bradley, 29. “Man, I have never been hit that hard in my life. I’ve been in there with some big punchers and no one has ever hit me as hard as this guy.”
Bradley, his wife, Monica, and Provodnikov were in attendance at Thursday night’s Boxing Writers’ Association of America dinner at The Capitale, where Bradley’s promotional and managerial stablemate RING junior featherweight champion Nonito Donaire was named Fighter of The Year, his trainer, Robert Garcia, Trainer of The Year, and Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez were honored for the Fight of The Year in the wake of Marquez’s sixth-round stoppage of Pacquiao in December.
Bradley may also be ringside at Radio City Music Hall for tomorrow night’s HBO-televised clash between Donaire and WBA beltholder Guillermo Rigondeaux. Bradley is also in town, with manager, Cameron Dunkin, to speak with Top Rank CEO, Bob Arum, regarding his next fight.
Arum informed RingTV.com on Wednesday that he expects to meet this week with Bradley, Pacquiao’s advisor, Michael Koncz, and Marquez with the goal of selecting a September opponent for Pacquiao by no later than Sunday.
Dunkin said he met with Bradley and his wife late last month regarding the fighter’s future, adding, “I would love to see him fight Pacquiao again. I love that fight.”
Asked if he would like to see Bradley against Marquez, Dunkin said, “I would go either way,” adding, “I like Timmy in both fights.”
“I would like him to fight Pacquiao again,” said Dunkin. “Because I think that he could settle a lot of things that are inside of him in the rematch, because I think that he’ll beat him good this time.”
Prior to the BWAA dinner, Bradley and Provodnikov embraced, posed for photos and exchanged compliments about their mutual performance, which has received praise as a potential 2013 candidate for Fight-of-The Year.
“Nobody gave this guy a chance right here, but he proved to everybody that he’s one of the best fighters in the world. I’m letting you know right now that any 140- or 147-pounder, right here, I’m telling you, this man can take them out, I promise you. I’ve got unbelievable respect for Provodnikov. He’s a great fighter. Great warrior. I mean, he displayed his talent in the ring. I knew that it was going to be a tough, tough challenge, but that’s all that I’ve faced is tough, tough guys,” said Bradley, with his left arm on Provodnikov’s right shoulder.
This guy came up short that night, but he will be a world champion. Like I said, he will be a world champion. I told his promoter that he needs to get him a fight with one of the top 140-pounders, or the top 147-pounders, and I’m telling you, he could beat him. He’s coming back, and he’s going to get an even bigger payday on HBO, because HBO loves him. One day, we will fight again, and you know it’s all up to the promoters. If it’s something that the promoters want to do, hey, I’m all for it. I would do a rematch in a heartbeat. I would love it.”
Provodnikov was equally complimentary.
“First of all, I was looking for you after the fight because I wanted to tell you that I had a lot of respect for you before the fight, and you gave me the chance. I had even more for you after the fight. You’re a true champion and it was a great fight, that’s what boxing is all about,”said Provodnikov, through a translator.
“I’m still hoping that one day, we can fight again, because that would be awesome. I’m very proud to be standing next to you, and I was very proud to be in the ring with you. You’re were and still are a true champion, and I feel good about our mutual respect for each otther. That’s what it’s all about in this sport.”
In the wake of defeating Pacquiao, Bradley said he received death threats, which skewed his thinking heading into the fight with Provodnikov.
“People talked about my wife, people talked about my kids, I’ve had people send me death threats because of the Pacquiao fight, and because I won,” said Bradley, during an interview prior to facing Provodnikov.
“People said that I was undeserving. There were a lot of different things that went on…They came in the mail. Mail and phone calls. I didn’t report anything because I know that people were just mad.”
Below are more of the thoughts expressed by Bradley on Thursday night.
Tim Bradley on the emotion that influenced his performance against Provodnikov:
“After everything that was going on with the Manny Pacquiao fight, and with my career, I had a little grudge on my shoulders, you know. So I went in there kind of aggressively.
“My back was loaded and I was just full of emotion. Just everything I have been through over the past 10 months, man, it’s been dreadful, dude. I’m sure that you saw the post-fight interviews and everything. It was just a bad 10 months, man. Dealing with the controversy and dealing with the media and fans and everybody, it has just been tough. That was all weighing on me going into the fight, you know?”
On the fact that trainer, Joel Diaz, tried to calm him down:
“My trainer knew that it was, and he told me before the fight, ‘Tim, just box him, Tim, just box him.’ But I had a different mind-set, man. I wanted to go out and try to kill this guy. I wanted to take him out, and it made for one helluva fight.
“The fact that there were times where I could have moved and I could have tied him up or something, you know, I fought, man. I just fought, and I don’t know why, man. It was just emotion, man. I fought off of emotion and it was just pure guts, and it made for a helluva fight.”
On what he proved in the fight with Provodnikov:
“The thing is that I showed who the real Tim Bradley is when I faced Provodnikov. I think that it showed that he could really bring that out of me, and Provodnikov, he brought it out of me. I showed what type of heart and determination and the will to win that I have as the champion.
“I showed all of that. I showed that to the world. I showed what I’m capable of doing, and it’s going to take a real, really bad boy to take me down, and I’m telling you that right now. What I want the boxing fans to take from that fight, man, is that I’ve got the heart. I’ve got the heart of a lion, man.
“I’ve got the heart of a lion, and I want them to see my dedication to the sport and my dedication to my craft. I want them to take that hard work and dedication definitely does pay off. Believe in yourself, even if people don’t believe in you. It definitely paid off and it gives you something to fight for.
“It’s like it definitely gives you information. The fact that I came and was hurt and I battled back, got hurt again, I battle back and I won a decision. And I got hurt several times in the fight. I think that’s unbelievable. It speaks loudly. I worked.”
On whether he wants to face Pacquiao or Marquez next:
“To be honest with you, I want Juan Manuel Marquez. I want the guy that beat Manny Pacquiao. Two guys that beat Manny, you know, let’s go at it. Let’s settle it. I’m hearing that Marquez wants to fight me through the grape vine. He wants to fight me? Then stop selling wolf tickets, man. I’m not wolfin.’ Let’s do it. Let’s talk. Get in contact with my people and let’s make the fight happen.
“If that’s something that he wants to do, then get in contact with my people and let’s exercise that. Let’s do it. What are you waiting on? If he wants me to be the next one, then, hey, I’m all for it. He’s a great champion and a great warrior, and I would love the opportunity to have a shot at one of the best fighters, pound-for-pound, if not, one of the best fighters ever.
“Marquez. That’s a better fight for me. A way better fight for me. Marquez is a way better fight for me because he’s the fighter that knocked out Pacquiao, you know what I mean. So if you’ve got the two guys who beat Pacquiao going at it, let’s see who the best is.
“I know after the Provodnikov fight, a lot of people are going to bet against me, but let me tell you this, you can bet against me, but you’re going to lose your money again. I’m letting you know. You’re going to lose your money again. Stay tuned, the next couple of months, we might put something together. You never know.”
Video by Bill Emes
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]