BRADLEY BEATS VARGAS AFTER CONTROVERSIAL 12th ROUND
By TOM WATT on June 30 2015
With the dust settling from Tim Bradley’s UD win over Jesse Vargas this past weekend, it is the 7 seconds that didn’t happen that is attracting more attention that the 12 rounds that did as once again, controversy shrouds another win for Desert Storm. In the pre-fight build-up Bradley had been keen to remind fans that he has never taken the easy route and when you look at his resume then it is hard to argue otherwise, Bradley is a throwback type of fighter who believes that the best should fight the best and that is the only way to legitimately reach the top.
That attitude has seen Bradley take on some of the World’s best fighters on his route to become a multiple weight, multiple time World Champion, but unlike some of his contemporary counterparts like Canelo Alvarez, Chino Maidana or even Keith Thurman, Bradley often struggles to receive the recognition his achievements deserve. His controversial win over Manny Pacquiao in 2012 has never quite been put to bed and it seems controversy is never far away when Desert Storm is in town.
Saturday’s fight saw Bradley inflict the first defeat of Jesse Vargas’ career with a dominant performance, judges at ringside scored the fight 115-112, 116-112 and 117-111, all in favour of Bradley and there are very few people that would argue against the decision being the correct one. However, the controversy this weekend stemmed from a mistake by referee, Pat Russell, who called an end to the fight 7 seconds prematurely as Vargas piled on the pressure in one last ditch attempt to KO the ever-resilient Bradley. An almost perfect overhand right from Vargas seconds earlier had sent Bradley reeling backwards, his legs wobbling worryingly beneath him, Vargas came forward and tried to finish the job but Bradley was able to wrap him up in a clinch effectively. As the referee separated the pair he pushed Vargas back and waved his hands, causing Vargas to momentarily believe he had won the fight via TKO and set off a premature celebration from the 26 year-old.
In the post-fight interview with Max Kellerman, Pat Russell admitted to believing he had heard the final bell and that is why he separated the fighters “Very loud in the 12th round, and I thought I heard the bell, so the fight was over when that bell went off” fight officials decided the decision should go the judges and thus awarded the victory to Bradley. An obviously upset Vargas immediately stated his case for a rematch and truly believed he could have got Bradley out of there if he had been given the full round.
Opinions vary on what would have happened in those final seconds if the referee hadn’t made the mistake, Bradley offered his own opinion post-fight, “I could’ve continued, man. I survived Provodnikov. Come on”. I would have to agree with Bradley that the last few seconds wouldn’t have made much difference, he has shown time and time again his ability to sustain punishment and stay on his feet, even when his legs have resembled spaghetti. On top of that, even if he had been knocked down, Vargas surely doesn’t have the power to straight knock Bradley out so he would have beaten the count and still taken the win, even with a 10-8 round awarded to Vargas.
This isn’t the first time a Tm Bradley fight has received attention for the wrong reasons, his first fight with Pacquiao remains one of the worst judging decisions I have ever seen and the rematch showed the difference between the two fighters, in Bradley’s defence, he didn’t make the decision at the time and had no issues with giving Pacquiao and the fans a rematch.
It hasn’t always gone Bradley’s way though, his last fight against Diego Chaves saw him come through a tough fight after sustaining a brutal cheek injury in the early rounds, Bradley was able to push through and most at ringside thought he had won the fight easily, although the judge’s scorecards deemed it a Draw. Bradley to his credit took the decision on the chin.
Bradley and his team now have the tough decision as to what to do next, despite the controversy a rematch with Jesse Vargas doesn’t seem like the most logical move given the domination shown by Bradley although that overhand right and the final moments would give Bob Arum a platform from which to build the fight. The welterweight division runs deep though and fights against IBF Champion Kell brook, compatriot Keith Thurman and P4P King, Floyd Mayweather would certainly excite Bradley who himself is never one to shy away from a tough fight. In his recent interviews he has even hinted that he could make the move up to 154lbs and face the likes of Cotto, Canelo and Golovkin – whilst I have nothing but admiration for Bradleys cojones, there are plenty of options at welterweight and having been rocked a few times at 147lbs the hard-hitting Golovkin and Canelo would probably be a step too far at this point.
Whoever Bradley chooses to fight next, expect an enthralling fight – ‘Desert Storm’ has been involved in some of the most exciting fights over the last few years and his attitude and desire to fight the best will likely lead to even more intense battles, hopefully with less controversy.
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(left) Vargas' right hand that stunned Bradley in the final round