Tim Bradley wanted to prove he’s still an A grade guy and Jessie Vargas wanted to show he’s a big stage fighter on Saturday night. The two squared off in Carson, CA., at Stub Hub, and on HBO.
It was Bradley who proved his point, with violent intensity and surety; his sturdy physique and non-stop aggression had Vargas on the back foot, mentally and physically. There were no knockdowns, and it wasn’t a beat-down, but Bradley was quite impressive. Till the last part of the 12th…when Bradley got caught by a right as he was throwing. He was out on his feet…and the fight was stopped, by ref Pat Russell.
But he stopped it with about four seconds left, because he thought he heard the bell. He in fact he heard the ten second alert.
The judges weighed in after order was restored and some clarity achieved; 116-112, 117-111, 115-112, for Bradley.
What a wild ending; Bradley was in total control and got caught late while giving fans their money’s worth. He said after he would have hugged and held and would have made it to the final bell, even if the ref didn’t pull an early plug. He said he’d be fine with a rematch.
“I didn’t go anywhere, baby,” Bradley said. “I didn’t go down, see how strong my legs are.” The winner said he was irked he got hurt late, and he got lazy and careless and got timed.
They hugged after, and Vargas asked for a rematch. Bradley seemed open to it.
Vargas told Max, who said he should have had an extra seven seconds, that he would have put Tim out. It cost him the fight, possibly, he said, not certainly. And what took so long to get that power punch? It was my mistake, he said, he thought he was having great luck with the jab. “We start off where we left off,” in a rematch, he told Kellerman.
“I thought I heard the bell,” Russell told Max Kellerman after. “What I thought I heard was the bell,” he reiterated. Max asked if he felt like he screwed up. He said it was an honest call, he said.
Bradley, age 31, was 146.5, to 146.5 for the 26 year old Vargas. Bradley was 158, Vargas 156 on fight night.
The interim WBO 140 pound crown was on the line.
In the first, the 26-0 (9 Kos entering; living in Vegas) popped a jab. Bradley, from Cali, with a 31-1-1-1 NC was busy. He started out rollicking, in fact. Bradley looked more muscled than we’ve seen, and said he’d look to be a power hitter. A left hook to body right follow did indeed smart on Vargas.
In the second, Bradley kept on pressing being busier. Power stung Tim then a few times. In the third, we saw TB pressing, and what was the Vargas strategy? He snapped a jab, again, hung right there with the vet, an ex champ. It was a tight round…Trainer Morales liked the jab, especially. “You come to win, round by round,” he said. He asked for combos.
In the fourth, they rumbled. Tim looked to land the bomb more often, Vargas to pile up points more so. Trainer Joel Diaz told him to have fun, but be smart. Bradley landed more power in the round.
In the fifth, Bradley banged to the body. Blood came from the Vargas nose. A nice exchange jazzed the punters late. A right onto the forehead worked for Vargas. Morales asked for combos, said, “C’mon, let’s go.”
In the sixth, Bradley dictated pace. Again, they traded end of round. Jim Lampley called the action “remarkable” to this point.
In the seventh, Tim landed cleaner and cleaner. Diaz called it a dominating round. It was. The trainer said Vargas was gassing out.
In the eighth, Bradley kept up the intensity edge. He bulled Vargas, once again.
In the ninth, a right clanged on Vargas’ head. His coinfidence was not in play. In the tenth, Bradley kept on keeping on. Lampley said Vargas was not showing he’d ever get to the Bradley level in this bout. Diaz asked for a liver shot after..In the 11th, we saw swelling on the eye of both men. A small cut was on the Bradley left eye lid. Vargas edged forward, knowing he needed a big finish. He was busier but not enough for Morales. He called it a close fight, though..In the 12th, Tim bounced, took some time, and Vargas didn’t press it. Then he landed a left hook, as Tim wasn’t as busy as in previous rounds. He snapped a jab, at distance, looked to not get caught. He did get caught, and Bradley was out on his feet. The ref thought he heard the bell, and stopped the fight, and Vargas thought he won via stoppage…but there was time on the clock. Bizarro end of fight!