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Concussed, then Concerned

(Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank)
(Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank)


When Tim Bradley looked in the mirror for the first time after his grueling back-and-forth slugfest this past March against the heavy-handed Ruslan Provodnikov, he could only utter these two words as he looked at his swollen head and misshapen facial features.
 
“Holy sh*t.”
 
After a booming right hand from the Russian in the first round (which sent him sprawling to the canvas), it seemed as though Bradley was never quite himself. He was hurt again in the second frame and who can forget the sixth round (when Bradley was seemingly out on his feet yet still throwing punches)? Then in the final seconds of the bout, he took a knee to save himself from any more damage.

The bell saved him and Bradley escaped with this WBO welterweight title with a hard-fought decision in what just might be the best fight of the year.
 
But it came at a heavy price. Bradley, who faces Juan Manuel Marquez this Saturday night at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, admits that for, “about two months,” he felt the effects of the encounter.
 
Asked to describe what he felt afterward, he told the media on Monday, “Just from the effects of the punches, it just felt a little different, felt a little odd at times. But my wife [Monica] is the type of person that always looks for answers and she actually talked to some people, some doctors and flew me out to New York and then I went out to Long Beach saw a neuro-specialist and they just had me do all this therapeutic work, drills and different things to basically reprogram everything.
 
“They said my symptoms, what they saw, that they could be fixed without a problem but I had to do certain things and I did these things and every day I got better and better.”
 
There is a good chance Bradley may have fought much of that fight at the Home Depot Center with a concussion. It was a spectacular battle, one Bradley himself doesn’t recall much of.
 
“Uh, I mean…I remember the first round and the last round,” said Bradley. However, he doesn’t have much recollection of the second through the 11th. “Nah, not really. No, not at all; only when I watch the fight,” he said, bluntly. As he spoke to the media a couple of days ago, he was clear and lucid; however, for a month or two after this fight, there was obvious slurring in his speech.
 
Bradley-Provodnikov is the type of fight where both boxers may never be quite the same (Provodnikov fights the following week versus Mike Alvarado in what figures to be another donnybrook). It will be interesting to see how both fighters react to getting hit and trading leather in their upcoming bouts. Post-Provodnikov, Bradley was taken from the Home Depot Center in an ambulance to a hospital for observation. It was that kind of battle, one that could shave years off careers.
 
You wonder if Bradley should even be back in the ring so soon. With that in mind, extra precautions were taken on his behalf.
 
Promoter Bob Arum explained, “Bradley has been evaluated and tested by three neurologists with MRIs and whatever in Nevada, in California and in New York City, eminent guys. So he has a clear bill of health and the fact that he was experiencing dizziness for two months after that fight, that’s not unusual; some guys like with Sidney Crosby,” - the often concussed star of the Pittsburgh Penguins - “he was out a year. It depends; sometimes you recover from a concussion the next day.”
 
With so much attention given to concussions now in the NFL and the effects of head trauma in contact sports, like every other sport, boxing is more cognizant of the health and safety of its participants.
 
“Well, to the credit of boxing, boxing was the first sport that really dealt with the issue,” Arum pointed out. “I mean, you got knocked out or you got a concussion, then you get suspended for 60 days and then you gotta take a test before you can get back. That’s certainly much more stringent than any other sport.”
 
Keith Kizer, the Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, says that extra measures were put in place to ensure Bradley was physically fit to fight this weekend.
 
“Yes, and it was actually in conjunction with the California commission because that’s where the [Provodnikov] fight was,” Kizer explained to Maxboxing, “so he actually had to go in and get an MRI done - which he did over the summertime - and that was fine and then last Monday, [Bradley] had a neurological exam with Dr. [Richard] Gluckman, so he saw him on Monday and did a neurological clearance on him. So he had an MRI done over the summer, he was good on that and then he had this done. He was fine on that as well. So yes, there were the additional requirements of a new MRI and a neurological exam.”
 
As they started the training camp for this fight over the summer months, Bradley’s trainer, Joel Diaz admitted, “The first couple of weeks in training camp, his balance wasn’t there 100 percent and I noticed and I was a little concerned.”
 
After a few heart-to-heart discussions with his fighter and after Bradley’s weight came down, Diaz noticed an improvement in his athletic movements. Bradley even went a few rounds with Lucas Matthysse, who at the time, was prepping for his September 14th date against Danny Garcia.
 
The trainer feels confident that the “Desert Storm” is back.

“Saturday, early morning, I said we’re going to close camp. I’m going to give him 12 rounds, see how he reacts. I brought three guys in and then he was going to close with Julio,” said Diaz, whose younger brother just dropped a fight to Shawn Porter and floored Amir Khan earlier this year. “Julio was going to give [Bradley] the last four rounds and Julio stays active. He stays in shape and he has that skilled counterpunching style. Julio said, ‘Sh*t, this guy, I can’t even hit him and every time he makes a move, he comes back with something. I mean he’s very agile on his feet, on his hands; his reflexes are so good.’”
 
Diaz says that prior to the Provodnikov fight, because of the ankle and foot injuries his fighter suffered in June of 2012 versus Manny Pacquiao, he wasn’t able to work out for the rest of the year and therefore, put on an inordinate amount of weight in the ensuing months.

“But look, [Bradley]’s walking around at 152 right now,” said Diaz, on Monday at a press brunch held at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. “That’s the thing; the day of the Provodnikov fight, we had him in the steam room and that never happened before - ever.”
 
When asked what juncture he started to feel like his old self, Bradley replied, “After my last sparring session. I sparred with four different guys and, man, I put on a show in there in the gym. Joel was happy; my team was happy and everyone was excited. We left with high hopes going into this fight.”
 
He’s shown he can take a punch with big gloves and headgear but the real question is how he’ll react on Saturday night against the sharp-punching Marquez, whose last opponent was knocked senseless, face-first onto the canvas.
 
DECEMBER 7TH
 
The Rigo-lution will be televised after all on HBO. On December 7th, the slick Cuban, Guillermo Rigondeaux will face Joseph Agbeko with a co-feature that has middleweight Matthew Macklin taking on Willie Nelson. On that same night, Showtime will have the Brooklyn battle between Zab Judah and Paulie Malignaggi and Keith Thurman facing Jesus Soto Karass.
 
I’m told the HBO card could land in Atlantic City, Las Vegas or Texas.
 
RATINGS GAME
 
Yahoo! Sport’s Kevin Iole always seems to be a step ahead regarding television ratings and on Tuesday morning, he tweeted (@KevinI):
 
“The [Miguel] Cotto-[Delvin] Rodriguez fight did 1.555 million viewers. [Terence] Crawford-[Andrey] Klimov did 1.1 million. [Wladimir] Klitschko did 534,000 live and 705,000 on the replay.”
 
This means Cotto has pulled in the largest audience of the year for HBO (in addition to pulling in the biggest rating for Showtime in 2013 with his December bout against Austin Trout). Make no doubt about it; Cotto is still an incredible asset and a robust franchise.
 
TNR
 
Here’s the latest episode of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly:
 
 
PLAYOFF FLURRIES
 
 
Hearing that a junior welterweight showdown between Erislandy Lara and Austin Trout is being kicked around for November 30th on Showtime...I hate to say it but the Dodgers have that “Team of Destiny” look to them...At 1-4 and without the services of Julio Jones the rest of the season, the Falcons are toast; right?...There are stretches where Geno Smith does look like a franchise quarterback...I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.


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