MANILA, Philippines – The trainer of unbeaten American Timothy Bradley Jr. refuses to underestimate Russian challenger Ruslan Provodnikov even as his fighter is the favorite going into the March 16 title fight.
In an interview with Tha Boxing Voice, trainer Joel Diaz acknowledged that Provodnikov was not their first choice of opponent but they still won’t take the Russian lightly.
“How did we get to the Provodnikov fight? I don’t even know myself,” Diaz admitted. “Tim needs to get back in the ring and fight, it was just debating back and forth with the promoter.”
“We all know there were a lot of fighters that we can fight, but I don’t know why it’s so hard for people to work together,” he added.
Diaz said negotiations with several high-profile fighters fell apart, leaving them with no choice to take the clash against Provodnikov.
“We’re like, okay. There’s nobody else. We waited. Tim needs to fight. At the end of the day, they bring Provodnikov,” Diaz said.
“But we’re not taking him lightly. We got to keep that undefeated record and that title. Without that, Tim has nowhere to go,” he said.
Diaz admitted that they were expecting to get a more well-known opponent after Bradley shocked the boxing world with a victory over Filipino icon Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao last June .
“Tim went in and fought his best and didn’t get knocked out like every other fighter he (Pacquiao) fought. We fought Manny Pacquiao. Forget about the winning or losing part. At that level, we thought our performance would get us someone at that level,” Diaz said.
Instead of an opponent who was at Pacquiao’s level, Bradley will instead fight Provodnikov, who is a regular fixture on ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights” but is not famous among casual fight fans.
This worries Diaz, who said: “If (Tim is) being treated like that with a title and an undefeated record, you can imagine (what happens) the day he loses a fight.”
Bradley will be making the first defense of the World Boxing Organization welterweight title that he won against Pacquiao.