Chris Farina - Top Rank
Timothy Bradley Jr. outpointed Jessie Vargas on Saturday to earn the WBO interim welterweight title at the StubHub Center in yet another controversial result for Bradley when referee Pat Russell mistakenly ended the fight several seconds early, as Bradley was on the receiving end of what could have been a fight-ending bludgeoning.
“It was very loud…and I thought I heard the bell,” Russell told HBO’s Max Kellerman after the fight. “I made the call that I made based upon what I heard. That’s all I can say. It was an honest call on an honest mistake.”
“I hit him with a shot,” Vargas said. “I came up capitalizing with three or four shots. [Russell] was about to break us up, we were still in the clinch. But I was still letting my hands go, and [Bradley] was still wobbly and that’s when he stopped the fight. Was he not out? All I needed was one shot.”
After the smoke cleared and order was restored, Bradley walked away with a unanimous decision with the judges’ scorecards reading 116-112, 117-111, and 115-112.
“He caught me with a good shot at the end,” Bradley said. “The ref probably heard the bell. I was good enough, I grabbed a hold of him towards the end of the fight. Look at the review. I was squeezing so tight, like his mom was hugging him. We can do it again.”
The fight started off competitively, with Vargas taking to the back foot and Bradley leading the action. Bradley was making gains with his over-the-top right, and Vargas was using his jab to keep the pound-for-pounder on the outside.
Vargas made good in the second installment, working the body and finding success off the ropes. But Tim came out pressing the pace in the third and fourth rounds, breaking out the uppercut and targeting the body.
The action stayed brisk into the fifth and sixth rounds, with Timothy still pressing and Vargas becoming less and less active. By the seventh frame, Bradley seemed well in control of the pacing and was dictating the action, and Jessie seemed to be out of ideas.
Entering the championship round, a definitive conclusion seemed well in sight– Tim was dominating, and Vargas seemed along for the ride. But with ten seconds remaining in the fight, Vargas landed with a square left hook that left Bradley out his feet and holding on for dear life.
With seven seconds left, as Vargas was looking to close the show, referee Pat Russell broke up the fight and Vargas through his hands up in the air, thinking he had won the fight.
“We can do a rematch,” said Bradley. “I don’t have a problem with that. Jessie came out, he fought hard. I felt that I was in better shape than he was. That was why I was able to take over the fight. Towards the second half when he started fading, I started to come on strong, with my jab and landing my combinations.”
Bradley (32-1-1, 12 KOs) had last been in action with a contentious draw against Argentine slugger Diego Chaves last December, which many at ringside agreed that Bradley had won. Prior to the Chaves fight, the Palm Springs, California native had suffered his first professional loss, to Manny Pacquiao in their rematch of April 2014.
With the loss Jessie Vargas (26-1, 9 KOs) picks up his first career defeat. The Los Angeles native was coming off back-to-back victories over Antonio DeMarco and an undefeated Anton Novikov since lifting the WBA super lightweight title from Khabib Allakhverdiev, also undefeated at the time, in April of 2014.
Kicking off the broadcast: undefeated Mexican Olympian Oscar Valdez earned a one-sided decision in a 10-rounder against game veteran Ruben Tamayo.
Timothy Bradley Jr. vs. Jessie Vargas (scores are unofficial)
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Round 1: Vargas in white, Bradley wears blue trunks. They meet in the center of the ring pump their jabs as they measure. Bradley with a right to the head and body. Another right. Still in the center a minute in. Vargas observing. They clinch and break. Vargas to the ropes, they clinch and break. Left hook Vargas. Bradley pressuring. Minute left in the round, Bradley make his way inside, targets body. Bradley to the body then head. Jabs in the center of the ring. Right hand from Tim ends the round. 10-9 Bradley
Round 2: Back to the center, they come out punching. Bradley lands to the body, staying in side. Left hook from Bradley. Left from Vargas slams Bradley. Right from Bradley. Stiff Jab from Tim, then avoids counter. Both observing in the center. They throw, miss, and clinch. Left from Vargas. Good exchange from both. Minute left in the round, they tie up and break. Vargas, right to the body. Vargas on the ropes, Vargas to the body with hook. Right from Bradley. 19-19
Round 3: Left hook from Bradley. Bradley with uppercut. Exchange of jabs. Vying for position in the center. Bradley using the jab more. Comes in, but nothing. Vargas with jab and hook. Bradley chasing a mobile Vargas. 1-2 from Vargas. Bradley to the body in the clinch. Right from Bradley counters. Minute left in the round. Two jabs pick Bradley off. Bradley pressing. Vargas pushes Bradley to ropes. Big right misses from Bradley. 29-28 Bradley
Round 4: Back at it. Meet in the center. Right from Bradley catches Vargas. Bradley working the jab to the body. Right from Bradley. Picking up the pace. Vargas with a stiff jab, keeps Bradley honest. Right from Bradley lands. Bradley left uppercut. Right hand from Vargas slams Bradley. Jab exchange, Bradley to the body, then two uppercuts. Bradley with a hook to the body. Big right from Bradley. Vargas with jab, then right from Bradley. Bradley to the body, hurts Vargas. 39-37 Bradley
Round 5: Vargas on the back foot, Bradley threatening. Jabs, and counter from Vargas. Right from Bradley, and left hook. Good exchange. Minute in, vying in the center. Right from Bradley from above. Left hook from Bradley countered by right from Vargas. Left hook from Vargas. Minute left, left hook from Bradley. Right from Bradley, they clinch and back at it. Right from Bradley. 1-2 from Bradley. They exchange against the ropes to end the round. 49-46 Bradley
Round 6: Bradley pumping the jab. To the head and body. Left from Bradley, countered by same from Vargas. In the center, vying. Minute in, Right to the head from Bradley. Vargas on the back foot, Bradley pressures. Left hook lands for Vargas. They exchange jabs. 1-2 from Bradley on the way in, they break. Vargas to the body. Bradley pushing forward. Right to the body, left to head from Vargas. Bradley landing to the body with Vargas against the ropes. Good exchange ends the round. 59-55
Round 7: Second half of the fight. They meet in the middle and back at it. Right from Bradley. Vargas on the ropes, pushes away. Left from Bradley lands stiff. Right from Bradley lands. Another, rocks Vargas. Exchanging jabs. Low action as Tim stalks and Vargas counters. Vargas jab to the body. Minute left, Vargas keeping his distance. Jab jab from Bradley, they tie up and break. Left from Vargas lands on the break. Three quick rights from Bradley land. 69-64 Bradley
Round 8: They exchange jabs, Bradley charges with combination. Jessie lands a couple of jabs between the guard. Bradley lands to the body. Bradley jabs to the body. Right from Vargas to the body catches Tim on the way in. Right from Bradley lands in an exchange. Uppercut from Bradley. Right from Bradley lands. Uppercut from Bradley counter Jessie. Bradley three punches to the body. Good exchange against the ropes, but Bradley gets the better. 79-73 Bradley
Round 9: Bradley comes out punching and gets Vargas on the ropes. Vargas on the back foot, Bradley pushing. Tim unloads on the ropes. Bradley in control. Working the jab, setting the pace. Left uppercut from Bradley. Vargas counters a couple of rights with his jab, but not impressed. Left hook to the body from Vargas. Right from Vargas . Bradley jabbing, trying to get inside. Left right rocks Vargas. Stiff jab from Bradley. 1-2 from Vargas lands. Jab jab right, from Vargas. 89-82 Bradley
Round 10: They throw, tie, and break. Bradley stalking, pressuring. Vargas keeping his distance, on the back foot. They exchange in the middle of the ring a minute into the round. Bradley threatens with the jab, Vargas goes back. Vargas in the corner, they tie up and break. Clinch and break. Inside exchange. Both miss with punches and Bradley back to pushing forward. Vargas with left hook. Bradley to the body, then head. Bradley lands to the body to end the round. 99-91 Bradley
Round 11: Into the championship rounds. Bradley lands hard 1-2. Bradley to the body, jab. Exchange of jabs. Two hard jabs from Vargas. Stiff jab from Bradley. Now Bradley on the perimeter, but now pressing. Left from Vargas. Hard right from Bradley. They tie up in the center of the ring and back at it. Minute left, Bradley circling. Jabbing and turning Vargas. Right from Bradley, then left hook lands for Vargas. Exchange of rights. 109-100 Bradley
Round 12: Last round! They touch gloves and we go. Center of the ring, they vie. Careful first minute of the round. They throw and keep their distance. Vying. Two lefts from Vargas. Two left upper cuts from Bradley, answered by Vargas left. 1-2 from Bradley lands. Bradley counters with left hook. Last minute. Vargas misses with left hook. Tight left from Vargas. Right and left to the body. Hard right hurts Bradley. Bradley wobbly! Wait…wait….Weird ending. Ref messed up and stopped the fight early. Vargas thinks he won, but Russell is explaining to the officials. Ok, going to the card. 118-110 Bradley.
Official scorecards: 116-112, 117-111, 115-112 all for Timothy Bradley.