Tim Bradley remains among the best: Weekend Review
Tim Bradley: The two-division titleholder is underappreciated. While everyone seems to avoid real challenges, he has navigated a gauntlet of top fighters with unusual consistency. Consider his last 11 opponents over six years: Lamont Peterson, Luis Abregu, Devon Alexander, (a faded) Joel Casamayor, Manny Pacquiao, Ruslan Provodnikov, Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao again, Diego Chaves, Jessie Vargas and now Brandon Rios. Bradley is 9-1-1 in those fights, the only loss coming against Pacquiao. That’s an impressive run. Bradley fell off pound-for-pound lists mainly because of the Pacquiao loss in their rematch and a disputed draw against Chaves. Make no mistake, though: “Desert Storm” remains one of the best all-around fighters in the world, particularly with renewed motivation and urgency under new trainer Teddy Atlas. He has only average punching power but otherwise is a complete fighter, including his toughness. Only a healthy Pacquiao is a bigger threat to Floyd Mayweather Jr. among fighters in the division. I wouldn’t read too much into his domination of Brandon Rios on Saturday in Las Vegas because Rios was in over his head at welterweight and at this stage of his career but that doesn’t obscure the obvious: Bradley (33-1-1, 13 knockouts) deserves our respect.
Kudos to Rios (33-3-1, 24 KOs) for recognizing that his heart is no longer in the sport and that’s it’s time to step away. I’ll remember him as one of the more entertaining fighters of his era and one who got a lot out of limited potential, in spite of his proclivity to gain weight between fights. ÔÇª The fact few featherweights want anything to do with Vasyl Lomachenko, the most gifted fighter in and around his weight class, isn’t his fault. Still, facing opponents like Romulo Koasicha (25-5, 15 KOs) – whom Lomachenko (5-1, 3 KOs) stopped in the 10th round on the Bradley-Rios card – is eating away at the momentum he established by dominating Gary Russell Jr. in June of last year. Lomachenko and his handlers must pull out all stops to get him an interesting foe. ÔÇª Alexander Povetkin (30-1, 22 KOs) stopped Mariusz Wach (31-2, 17 KOs) in the 12th round on a stacked card Wednesday in Russia. I hope Deontay Wilder is his next opponent. That’s a fascinating matchup: a well-schooled, polished veteran in Povetkin vs. a better athlete with big-time knockout power in Wilder. Who wins? I can’t help but think about the trouble Povetkin had against cruiserweight Marco Huck. I like Wilder by knockout. ÔÇª
Super middleweight contender Callum Smith‘s first-round knockout of previously unbeaten Rocky Fielding (21-1, 12 KOs) on Saturday in the U.K. isn’t earth shattering but it helps justify the solid reputation Smith (18-0, 13 KOs) is building. ÔÇª It’s a shame Cesar Cuenca‘s perfect record was spoiled by a controversial loss against Eduard Troyanovsky (23-0, 20 KOs) on the Povetkin-Wach card. Cuenca (48-1, 2 KOs) went down from what to me, watching on YouTube, looked like a wrestling move. Then, after he got to his feet, it appeared he and referee David Fields had difficulty communicating and the fight was stopped. I think Troyanovsky was too strong for the light-punching Cuenca and would’ve won anyway. ÔÇª Former junior welterweight titleholder Ruslan Provodnikov (25-4, 18 KOs) stopped previously unbeaten but obscure Jesus Rodriguez (14-1, 11 KOs) on Saturday in Monaco, making the Russian perhaps the best fighter who is 3-3 in his last six fights. Provodnikov will face an elite opponent next if a recent pattern continues.