MANILA, Philippines – Unbeaten American boxer Timothy Bradley Jr. acknowledged that he did not follow the game plan set by his corner when he fought Russian contender Ruslan Provodnikov last weekend in California.
Bradley, who was making the first defense of his WBO welterweight title, was stunned by the hard-hitting Russian in the very first round, and was very nearly out on his feet in the second round.
He had to take a knee in the final round after being battered anew, but still managed to escape with a unanimous decision victory after controlling most of the middle rounds.
“Standing there and trading with a big puncher was an idiotic move,” Bradley said in a chat with boxing fans on ESPN. “I really don’t know (why) I did it, I really don’t.”
“I guess I had to do what I had to do. The game plan was to box him, but I didn’t do it. I wasn’t listening to my corner,” he admitted.
Bradley said it was an “unbelievable fight,” but he also took tremendous damage and was diagnosed with a mild concussion.
“A lot of the things that happened (in the fight) I don’t even remember,” he said, but the champion also noted that he could have made the fight easy for himself if he had followed the game plan.
“I don’t think it was the toughest fight. I could have made it easy, but I made it hard for myself,” Bradley explained. “It was an easy fight that I made hard for myself.”
“But definitely, (this was) the hardest fight in my career. I’ve never taken this much punishment in my life,” he said.
When asked about what he learned from the fight, Bradley said: “I learned that I have to work on my defense... I learned that I am my own worst enemy.”
His trainer, Joel Diaz, noted that Bradley already has a “great defense,” but it did not show against Provodnikov.
“What you saw Saturday night, it wasn’t a Tim Bradley that walked in with defense – he walked in with heart,” Diaz said.
He also explained their game plan, saying: “We had a plan coming into this fight, but it wasn’t standing in front of him. I knew he was a strong puncher. Our plan was to move, box him, work angles, a lot of foot work. We worked on jabbing him.”
Diaz admitted he was mad because Bradley “wasn’t listening” to him in between rounds.
“He was stubborn. I had to yell at him and wake him up. I had to tell him that he was fighting Ruslan’s fight. I told him that he has to fight his fight. He has to dance to your rhythm,” he said.
Although Diaz at one point considered stopping the fight, he admitted that Bradley’s decision to stand toe-to-toe with Provodnikov made for an exciting contest.
“He steps up to the level of competition,” said Diaz. “He went in and got hurt. Ruslan is a tough kid. Timothy could have made it a boring fight, but he decided to exchange.”