AVILA RINGSIDE: Tim Bradley Survives Again at StubHub

CARSON, CALIF.-A premature stoppage to terminate the fight allowed Tim “Desert Storm” Bradley to ride out the storm in the final round against Jessie Vargas and win by unanimous decision on Saturday.

Bradley (32-1-, 12 KOs) was cruising along in front of a crowd of 4,711 at the StubHub Center until the final round when an overhand right from Vargas (26-1, 9 Kos) nearly ended the fight. Soon after referee Pat Russell thought he heard the bell and stopped the fight seven seconds short of the actual final bell.

“I thought I heard the bell He’s hurt. He’s working it. It sounded like the bell to me,” said referee Russell explaining the early stoppage of the fight. “You don’t always hear the final second warning.”

Only at the StubHub does last round controversy seems to happen to Bradley.

“It was a great shot. You hurt me, no doubt about it. He got me with a clean overhand right,” said Bradley to Vargas and the crowd. “It was a close fight I knew I had to win the round. I knew it could go anyway.”

Bradley opened up the fight with his speedy combinations and Vargas countered with sharp jabs. It was a theme that seemed to explain the first eight rounds. Then weariness began to set in for both fighters and the action slowed down. In the final round, everything changed.

Vargas began to stalk Bradley, who was carefully circling around the approaching Vargas. Both fighters attempted overhand rights. Both missed. The crowd let out a collective “ooohh.”

They circled again and both fired rights. Vargas connected with a thud and Bradley shook convulsively for a second as Vargas smiled and calmly moved in. He crept in and when he got within hitting range he began to fire to the body and head. Bradley held. Again Vargas moved in but when the official scorekeeper hit the clacking sound for the 10-second warning, the referee stopped the fight with seven seconds remaining in the fight. The crowd cheered thinking the fight was over and Vargas had won by knockout.

Later, the announcer explained that it was an erroneous early stoppage to the fight, and not a technical knockout win for Vargas. He leaped on top of the second strand of the roped thinking he had won the fight.

“I heard something. I hit him with three or four shots,” said Vargas. “With seven seconds left all I needed was one more shot. Those seven seconds cost me the fight.”

The world will never know if seven seconds more is all Vargas needed to end the fight with Bradley in the final seconds of the final round.

“I feel great right now man. Dirty desert in the house. I don’t have to defend anything. The ref thought he heard the bell. I was squeezing so tight,” said Bradley. “We can do it again. You see me grabbing him. I’m an experienced fighter. I know what to do.”

All three judges scored it for Bradley: 116-112 Max DeLuca, 117-111 Rocky Young, 115-112 Kermit Bayless. Bradley wins the vacant WBO welterweight world title.

“We can do a rematch. Jessie came out hard. I thought I was in better shape. I’ll give him a rematch no problem. I knew I was ahead on the score cards. He caught me at the end over the top. I survived Ruslan Provodnikov come on,” said Bradley. “Damn it. I ended it getting hit hard at the end of the fight.”

Vargas shook his head in dismay.

“One shot is all I was looking for. But those 10 seconds cost me the fight. That’s because of my big right hand. Every time I connected with the left jab it would hurt him,” Vargas said. “We can start off where we left off.”

Valdez Wins HBO Debut

Former Mexican Olympian Oscar Valdez (17-0, 14 Kos) got his first taste of the big time and despite a first round knockdown he rumbled toward a unanimous victory over rugged Ruben Tamayo (23-6-4, 15 Kos) of Mexico.

“I don’t consider it a knock down, my feet got tangled up,” said Valdez whose feet tripped over the southpaw Tamayo’s feet.

Valdez got in his shots but was hit repeated shots to the body; many of those fell well below the belt. Tamayo realized he was fighting a very elusive opponent and looked to score to the body on most exchanges.

“He’s a very quick fighter and throws a lot of punches,” Tamayo said of Valdez.

There were no knockdowns but Valdez shifted into another gear in the 10th and final round and pummeled Tamayo with quick, stiff and punishing shots to the head. A large welt appeared on his head. But he survived the final round.

“It was exciting to be in my first 10-round fight,” said Valdez. “It was not as tough as I thought it would be.”

All three judges scored it for Valdez 98-90.

Other bouts

Toka Kahn Clary (16-0-1, 10 Kos) knocked out Colombia’s Jonathan Perez at 2:59 of the sixth and final round of the featherweight bout.

Abraham Lopez (1-1) pounded his way to victory over Joann Valenzuela (1-4-1) in a featherweight bout.

Ed “Bad Boy” Brown (6-0, 6 Kos) walked in with a height advantage, reach advantage and power advantage against Mexico’s Jose Maruffo (7-3-2) and showed he knows how to use it. A right cross in the second round stunned Maruffo and that was followed by a right-left-right combination that dropped the Mexican junior welterweight for the count. Brown then fired a barrage of blows that forced referee Gerard White to end the fight at 1:48 of the second round.

— Photo Credit : Chris Farina – Top Rank