Since receiving ( and this is putting it mildly) an unpopular decision over global icon, Manny Pacquiao, Timothy Bradley’s triumph did not send him into the stratosphere as one of boxing most beloved, or respected pugilist. The reality for the undefeated Bradley, is that his undeserved victory over Manny Pacquiao has made him more infamous than it has famous.
This left Bradley with an even bigger chip on his solider, making the WBO champion feel as though there is more to prove now that Pacquiao is on his ledger, without unanimous respect from the public.
Enter Ruslan Provodnikov. Provodnikov may not have world-class skills, but his granite chin and punch are unquestionably at the championship level. Thus, Provodnikov had the accurate reputation of being a tough, give and take son of a gun, but an elite, championship level fighter he is not.
So when the two squared off in California this past March, it was apparent that Bradley, 30, (30-0, 12 KOs) was possessed to not just gain another victory, but leave an imprint that could go without criticism. And Bradley half succeeded. Going life and death with a fighter of Provodnikov’s caliber did nothing to enhance Bradley’s claim to being one of the planet’s very best. But what Bradley was able to prove without a whimper of doubt, was any questions about the desire in stomach, durability and will.
As said before though, the jury is still out on Timothy Bradley. If he is just a good, never say never fighter? Or a talent among the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Guillermo Rigondeaux and Andre Ward. Bradley was the undisputed champion of his division like the fighters Bradley has bested in the past just a few years ago, when decisively beating Devon Alexander to become the WBC/WBO undisputed light welterweight champion of the world.
Despite all of the ongoing criticisms and dislike for Bradley’s status within boxing, Bradley can alter it all in one fell swoop if he can shock the world in defeating Juan Manuel Marquez, 40, just as Marquez, (55-6-1, 40 KOs), did 11 months ago in jaw dropping fashion in finally vanquishing Manny Pacquiao. It is now or quite possibly never for Timothy Bradley to showcase to all who will be watching that he belongs in elite ranks and nothing else. With the odds stacked against him against an icon, Timothy Bradley has never been presented with an opportunity like he has now. Saturday night will be a terrific night of boxing, can Bradley truly begin his own legacy and era? Only the squared circle Saturday night in Las Vegas will provide the answers to all of these questions.