Russian brawler Ruslan Provodnikov believes American boxer Timothy Bradley Jr. is making all sorts of excuses to avoid facing him in a rematch because the former world welterweight champion is scared of him.
"I think that Bradley never wanted the rematch, because he’s afraid of me," Provodnikov said in an interview with World Boxing News.
Provodnikov came close to knocking out Bradley when they fought in March 2013 – a bout that was later named the Fight of the Year – but the American survived to claim a unanimous decision victory.
Since then, Bradley lost in a rematch to Filipino ring icon Manny Pacquiao, while Provodnikov beat Mike Alvarado to win his first world title, which he subsequently lost to Chris Algieri just last week.
Bradley, in an interview with Boxing Scene, expressed his belief that Provodnikov's loss to Algieri likely ruined the chances of a rematch between the two of them.
"He lost to a guy no one really knew. The remedy is just to out-box him," said Bradley. "The first time, I chose to slug. The second time around, it would be even easier, because I won’t stand there and fight with this guy."
Bradley stressed that he and Provodnikov were in different places of their careers, because the Russian lost to a virtual unknown, while he lost to the "Pacman," whom he called “one of the best fighters of this generation.”
"There's a different level there," said Bradley.
Provodnikov, however, believes the American is merely making excuses to avoid a rematch.
"Now that I lost, he is trying to use this as a reason for why he shouldn't fight me," said the Russian fighter. "I know HBO wants the rematch, and I know fans want the rematch, so it will be a great fight again."
"If he is a man, he should just fight me, instead of trying to come up with reasons to stay away," he added.
Provodnikov pointed out that if Bradley believes he can beat him easily, then the American should have no trouble agreeing to a return fight.
"If he thinks he can just come out and box me in a rematch, that it should be easy money for him, then he should fight me and not make excuses," said Provodnikov.
"I think Bradley should take a step forward and prove to all the fans that he's not afraid to get in the ring with me again," he added.
But Provodnikov also stressed that he has other options aside from a Bradley rematch.
"I hope Bradley takes up the challenge and doesn’t run, or we can make a fight with (Lucas) Matthysse or (Marcos) Maidana possible," said the Russian.
"I think fans would love me to fight Matthysse and Maidana," Provodnikov said, naming two fighters who are also known for their come-forward style of fighting.