- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Trainer Freddie Roach is always motivated to see his guys win their fights. All of those victories he has been involved in as a trainer have helped make Roach a multi-millionaire, a five-time trainer of the year and a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
But Roach has perhaps just a bit more motivation to see his man, Ruslan Provodnikov of Russia, take down welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr. when they meet March 16 (HBO, 10:15 p.m. ET/PT) at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
Last time Roach opposed Bradley, he was in Manny Pacquiao’s corner in June when Bradley got a split decision win -- one of the biggest robberies and most controversial decisions in boxing history. Alas, Bradley got the ‘W’ and the belt.
Bradley (29-0, 12 KOs) has not fought since and will return against Provodnikov (22-1, 15 KOs), a junior welterweight moving up in weight. Roach, of course, would love to see Provodnikov beat Bradley not only to win the title but also as a little payback for the Pacquiao fight.
Provodnikov, a Pacquiao sparring partner, has been training with Roach at his Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif., and Roach has liked what he’s seen.
"We are having an outstanding camp," Roach said. “Ruslan has given me everything I have asked for in training. The fact that Ruslan has been Manny Pacquiao's lead sparring partner his past two camps has given Ruslan an outstanding foundation from which to work. When Manny was preparing to defend his title against Bradley last spring I said any of Manny's sparring partners could beat Bradley. Ruslan will prove that on March 16.
"I've heard Bradley say he's going to take the fight to Ruslan. He said the same thing before his fight with Manny. And when he feels Ruslan's power, like when he felt Manny's, it's going to be a remake of Forrest Gump. 'Run, Timmy, run!' This isn't about Ruslan finishing what Manny started. It's about duplicating it. Bradley is going to run from Ruslan just like he did against Manny.”
Provodnikov has won five fights in a row (four by knockout) since dropping a decision to Mauricio Herrera in January 2011 on ESPN2.”
"I'm very happy and very satisfied with everything I have been doing with Freddie," he said. “I know my fans have seen me on ESPN ‘Friday Night Fights’ fighting a certain way, but on March 16, they will see a different Ruslan inside the ring. My work with conditioning coach Gavin MacMillan has made me stronger and faster and my endurance is tremendous. I have never felt so good.”