Ruslan Provodnikov was a little-known Russian boxer before he landed a sparring job against Manny Pacquiao.
Now, thanks to his gritty effort under the guidance of trainer Freddie Roach, he’s involved in something bigger -- a world welterweight title shot against Timothy Bradley on Saturday at Carson’s Home Depot Center.
Provodnikov, 29, is 22-1 with 15 knockouts. He’s a brawler known for coming forward, sticking his head toward his opponent and throwing punches.
“I’m going to use my power to the full,” Provodnikov said Wednesday at L.A. Live’s Conga Room news conference with Bradley (29-0, 12 KOs). “That’s the plan, and once I hit him, my punches will be stronger and stronger.”
Bradley has nearly scoffed at Provodnikov’s forward style, believing the challenger will be exposed to too many scoring blows from the boxer and could possibly risk being the champion’s 13th knockout victim.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if I knock the guy out,” Bradley said. “I want to beat him down, beat him up, and if the knockout comes, that’s fine. Everything’s flowing for me now. My shots are more solid, I’m more composed. I’m hitting as hard as hell, I’m bruising, and I can’t wait to hit this dude on the button and finish him.”
For Bradley, the bout is his first since winning the WBO belt in a controversial split-decision victory over Pacquiao in June. He was sidelined by foot and ankle injuries and delayed further by failed negotiations with Lamont Peterson and Yuriorkis Gamboa.
Provodnikov said he doesn’t anticipate a change in his fighting style.
“My style is what I was born with. I got it with my mother’s milk,” he said. “I don’t try to take punches on purpose. Some are saying he punches harder. We’ll see.
“This is a fight that gives me a chance to change my life, and if I didn’t think I’d win this fight, I wouldn’t be a boxer.”
Tickets remain for sale at $25-$200 for the fight card, which begins at 4:05 p.m., and will be televised by HBO at 7 p.m. with an undercard welterweight bout between Jessie Vargas (21-0, 9 KOs) and Wale Omotoso (23-0, 19 KOs).
CHAVEZ’S NEXT: Bradley promoter Bob Arum said at Wednesday’s event that he expects middleweight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. to return to the ring either June 22 or June 29 in Texas vs. either Brian Vera or Matthew Macklin.
Chavez is currently suspended after testing positive for marijuana after his September loss to Sergio Martinez in Las Vegas.
MARQUEZ EXPECTED: Top Rank’s Todd duBoef said Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez is expected to be in attendance Saturday to watch Bradley fight, then go to the March 30 Brandon Rios-Mike Alvarado fight in Las Vegas before deciding who he’ll fight next.
Arum said he still expects Marquez and Pacquiao to have a fifth bout in September, “but Marquez wants to see everyone and make a decision after that.”