Boxing: Bradley ends long layoff to face Provodnikov

Unbeaten WBO champion Timothy Bradley will be looking to earn respect when he puts his welterweight title on the line against Ruslan Provodnikov Saturday at the Home Depot Center stadium.

It has been an extended layoff for Bradley, who will be stepping into the ring for the first time since he stunned Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao on June 9 at the MGM Grand Garden arena in Las Vegas.

Nine months after that controversial split decision victory, Bradley is hoping that a win over Provodnikov (22-1, 15 KOs) will convince his critics, who claimed the victory over Pacquiao was a fluke.

"I didn't get any credit after the Pacquiao fight whatsoever," Bradley said. "People sent me death threats after the fight because (they said) I won undeservingly. (They said) I should have given the belt back."

Russia's Provodnikov, who trains at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood under Freddie Roach, will be fighting for his first major title. Roach is also Pacquiao's trainer.

After a quiet second half to 2012, Bradley (29-0, 12 KOs) says he wants to fight three to four times this year.

Provodnikov is moving up from the 140-pound class, where he was ranked number two by the WBO, for this fight. He has knocked out his last two opponents, both at junior welterweight.

Provodnikov won his first 17 fights before losing to Mauricio Herrera in 2011.