Timothy Bradley expected a quicker ring appearance after the signature victory of his career last June.
Considering the disputed scoring of his split-decision win over Manny Pacquiao, Bradley figured Pacquiao wanted an immediate rematch.
A second consecutive bout with Pacquiao would have provided Bradley another pay-per-view opportunity previously lacking in his career.
But Pacquiao opted for a fourth bout with Juan Manuel Marquez instead of the direct match with Bradley.
Although there was preliminary talk of a Bradley- Andre Berto bout last December at Marlins Park, Bradley was left without a fight date the rest of the year.
For Bradley, the wait will end Saturday, but not under the high-profile setting of his previous fight.
Bradley will make the first defense of his World Boxing Organization welterweight title against Russia’s Ruslan Provodnikov in Carson, Calif.
“Every fight from here on out is a statement fight, especially coming after the Pacquiao fight,” Bradley said.
“I am looking to make a statement in this fight and I am looking to damage this guy.”
Bradley (29-0, 12 KOs) is still upset about not receiving sufficient recognition for defeating Pacquiao.
The former 140-pound champion has difficulty convincing fans and media, many of whom considered Pacquiao the winner of their bout.
“I don’t get any credit after the Pacquiao fight whatsoever,” Bradley said. “People talk about me, my style, that I’m boring.”
Bradley, 29, also revealed that he received death threats via phone calls and mail, but did not inform authorities.
“I didn’t really take them seriously,” Bradley said. “People were mad but I didn’t think they would come to my house and take me out. I don’t think that would ever happen.”
Provodnikov (22-1, 15 KOs) lacks the appeal of other notable welterweights, but Bradley and his promotional team acknowledge the importance of an impressive performance Saturday.
Not only does Bradley retain his title with a dominant win, but it keeps him in the mix for the rematch with Pacquiao.
“The result of the Pacquiao-Bradley fight was a very tough result for everybody in the sport and very tough for a lot of people,” said Todd DuBoef, president of Top Rank, which promotes Bradley.
“Fortunately, we have a healthy relationship moving forward and we are looking to keep him active and making the biggest fights we can for him.”
Hopkins wins again
Part-time Miami Beach resident Bernard Hopkins continues to defy age and add championship belts.
The 48-year-old Hopkins won another light- heavyweight title after his unanimous decision victory against defending champion Tavoris Cloud late Saturday in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 KOs, 2 NC) landed the timely punches throughout the 12 rounds.
Cloud (24-1) also was affected by cuts above both his eyes.
Two judges scored the bout for Hopkins, 116-112, and the third also had Hopkins winning, 117-111.
The victory earned Hopkins the International Boxing Federation title.
Hopkins broke his own record of oldest fighter to win a title after he defeated Jean Pascal for a separate sanctioning body belt two years ago.
Hard Rock fights
Seminole Hard Rock Live Arena in Hollywood will have its first card of the year Friday night. Panther Promotions, which presented two cards at Hard Rock Live last year, will have a scheduled seven-bout show.
The main event will match Miami resident Yunieski Gonzalez and Rowland Bryant of Altamonte Springs in a scheduled 10-round cruiserweight bout.