- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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Welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr., coming off his highly controversial title win against Manny Pacquiao in June, didn't get the big-money rematch that he wanted. That's because Pacquiao opted for a more lucrative fourth fight with rival Juan Manuel Marquez on Dec. 8.
So Bradley will instead be back on Dec. 15 to headline an HBO "World Championship Boxing" card from Marlins Park in Miami, Fla.
Bradley has a date and a site but no opponent yet. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has mentioned several names in recent weeks, including interim titlist Robert Guerrero and former titleholder Andre Berto. Both have fairly big names, but there are issues to work through before making a bout with either.
Another fighter Arum has mentioned -- and one that HBO would be fine with -- is Russian junior welterweight Ruslan Provodnikov (22-1, 15 KOs), who is well known to ESPN's "Friday Night Fights" audience. He has been on the show many times and is usually in good fights.
Provodnikov has heard his name mentioned and would love the opportunity to move up in weight and challenge Bradley.
"I am ready for this type of fight," he said. "I would be grateful for the opportunity and I have trained my whole life for this. Bradley is a great fighter, but not only do I know I can win, but I will bring the best out of him and our fight will be one to remember."
Naturally, Banner Promotions' Artie Pelullo would also love to make the fight.
"We feel that Ruslan is ready for this fight and he will beat Bradley," Pelullo said. "Based on all the feedback we get after Ruslan's fights, he is one of, if not the most television friendly fighter out there, and a fight with Bradley would be a great fight for the fans."
Provodnikov, 28, who has worked with Pacquiao as one of his top sparring partners, suffered his only loss in January 2011 in an FNF main event. He dropped a debatable decision to Mauricio Herrera, but has won five fights in a row since.
Welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr., coming off his highly controversial title win against Manny Pacquiao in June, didn't get the big-money rematch that he wanted.