Bradley, who won the belt last June amid much controversy from Manny Pacquiao, finally made his first defence against the Russian, who immediately put the American in trouble early on.
Provodnikov appeared to put Bradley down in the opening round, only for referee Pat Russell to rule it a slip, and had the champion in bother at the end of round two.
Bradley was able to rally with an accomplished performance in the middle rounds, busting the challenger open in several areas, but a late rally saw Provodnikov drop Bradley, for real, in the last 10 seconds of round 12.
‘Desert Storm’ was able to answer the count and went on to take the decision via judges’ scorecards of 114-113, 114-113 and 115-112 to move his pro record to an even 30-0.
Provodnikov, whose career record drops to 22-2, was frustrated with the decision following the bout.
"I was the clear winner," he said through a translator. "I hurt him. I knocked him down. I don't know what else to do."
Bradley said: "I gave it everything I had. Every ounce I had, I gave.
"He's much more powerful than Pacquiao. He hits harder, and has shorter punches. He's a great puncher, and I take my hat off to him."
- Sports & Recreation
- Manny Pacquiao