In a year that was filled with great fights, no one fight stood out more than Tim Bradley vs Ruslan Provodnikov. It is a fight that brought fans to their feet and forced Tim Bradley’s family to leave the arena. Both men showed more grit and heart in 12 rounds than most fighters show in a lifetime. This is an award that Tim Bradley should not be proud of winning. His poor tactical choices, while great for fans, turned out very poorly for him. When boxing the fight was very easy, but more often than not he chose to slug it out with a certified bad-ass.
The fight opened with a bang as both men immediately went to work landing hard combinations. Provodnikov immediately established himself as the harder puncher, consistently wobbling Bradley throughout round one. A hard hook to the head badly damaged Bradley late in the round and caused him to go to the canvas. Many fans and writers alike have argued that Provodnikov should have been awarded the knockdown, although I am not so sure. Bradley was clearly hurt by the punch, but seemed to go down from being leaned on rather than the punch.
Round two, which may very well have been round of the year, was more of the same. Both men threw everything they had at one another. There were many times throughout the round where it looked as if Bradley was only moments away from being knocked out, although somehow he managed to stay on his feet.
In round three the fight began to turn in Bradley’s favor, as he finally started to listen to his trainer Joel Diaz pleas for him to box. Bradley decisively out-boxed Provodnikov in rounds three through five as Provodnikov looked badly gassed and was clearly drained by Bradley’s constant bodywork.
Round six started out with more of the same as Bradley continued to box circles around Provodnikov. Bradley was landing crisp jabs and debilitating body shots which were nearly doubling Provodnikov over. Then with around 30 seconds left in the round Provodnikov managed to trap Bradley in the corner and hurt him with a hard left hook. What followed was one of the most exciting moments I have ever witnessed in boxing, as Bradley was pushed onto the ropes and both men traded power shots until the bell sounded, like something out of the Rocky series
The fight shifted again in round seven as Bradley out-hustled Provodnikov in rounds seven through ten. Bradley punctuated round nine as he had Provodnikov hurt and nearly stopped him with a hard right hook. As was the case throughout the fight, the momentum shifted again as Provodnikov badly hurt Bradley in rounds 11 and 12. Round 12, which is another candidate for round of the year, saw Bradley decked and in dire straights only to be saved by the bell.
Bradley was awarded a close unanimous decision and although he made plenty of fans with his performance, he took a lifetime of punishment in what could have been an easy fight.
This fight had all the ingredients for fight of the year, both men were hurt multiple times, there were numerous swings in momentum and a knockdown. Every round was unique and entertaining, and the level of punishment that both men were able to take was otherworldly.
What did you think of this fight? Did you think this was the fight of the year? Let me know in the comments section below.