Tim Bradley sur­vives ‘weird’ fin­ish, defeats Var­gas for WBO belt

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY LEIGHTON GINN

Ti­mothy Bradley got rocked in the fi­nal minute and sur­vived a con­fus­ing fin­ish to beat Jessie Var­gas by unan­i­mous de­ci­sion Satur­day night, claim­ing the in­terim WBO wel­ter­weight ti­tle.

Bradley ( 32- 1- 1) con­trolled most of his bout against the pre­vi­ously un­beaten Var­gas, but the for­mer two- di­vi­sion cham­pion was hurt by a hard right that nearly knocked him down. The fight went on as Bradley re­cov­ered some­what, but ref­eree Pat Rus­sell ap­par­ently stopped the fight 10 sec­onds early, think­ing the 10-sec­ond warn­ing was the bell to end the bout.

Bradley won 117-111, 116-112 and 115-112 on the score­cards, bounc­ing back from a win­less 2014 — but not be­fore a wild scare at the end.

Rus­sell ap­peared to be de­cid­ing that the bout was over by stop­page when he stepped in, and Var­gas’ cor­ner went into a wild cel­e­bra­tion. Carl Moretti, the vice pres­i­dent of Bradley pro­moter Top Rank, went up to Rus­sell im­me­di­ately to find out what hap­pened, and Rus­sell said he thought the 10-sec­ond warn­ing was the bell to end the fight.

The vet­eran ref­eree was booed by the Stub­Hub Cen­ter fans. Bradley ac­knowl­edged he was hurt by the over­hand right, but said he would have sur­vived the fi­nal 10 sec­onds.

The bout was Bradley’s first fight at the famed out­door ring south of Los An­ge­les since his 2013 brawl with Rus­lan Provod­nikov in which he over­came a con­cus­sion from the first round and sur­vived a knock­down in the clos­ing sec­onds to win a unan­i­mous de­ci­sion.

“I don’t have to de­fend any­thing,” Bradley said. “He landed a great shot, he hurt me, but I would have fin­ished. Come on, I sur­vived Provod­nikov.”

Var­gas (26-1) said he could have won the fight if he had those 10 sec­onds. Dur­ing Bradley’s in­ring in­ter­view, Var­gas de­manded a re­match.

Var­gas, the WBA light wel­ter­weight cham­pion, knew he was step­ping up in weight and class against Bradley, one of the world’s top pound- for­pound fight­ers with vic­to­ries over Manny Pac­quiao and Juan Manuel Mar­quez. But Var­gas strug­gled against Bradley’s fu­ri­ous pace at the start, con­stantly at­tack­ing with mul­ti­ple com­bi­na­tions and mak­ing him pay with coun­ters.

Var­gas tried to keep up but was sorely be­hind in land­ing punches. At the end of the first and fourth, Bradley stag­gered Var­gas. By the fifth, Bradley drew blood from Var­gas’ nose.

The fight was for the WBO belt that Floyd May­weather said he would va­cate af­ter beat­ing Pac­quiao in May. But May­weather has balked at re­lin­quish­ing the belt, and the WBO has de­manded May­weather de­clare his in­ten­tions by July 3.

If he re­lin­quishes, then Bradley would go from in­terim cham­pion to world cham­pion.

It was the fifth time Bradley has won a cham­pi­onship belt. He won the WBO wel­ter­weight ti­tle twice, the WBC light wel­ter­weight belt twice and the WBO 140-pound belt once.

Bradley and his wife, Mon­ica, who also is his man­ager, re­cently had their fifth child, and Bradley said he wants each kid to have his or her own cham­pi­onship belt in their Christ­mas photo.

AP

Ti­mothy Bradley, left, con­nects with Jessie Var­gas dur­ing a wel­ter­weight box­ing match for the in­terim WBO ti­tle, Satur­day, June 27.

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