Timothy Bradley Jr stayed in the welterweight mix on Saturday night, beating Jessie Vargas by a deserved and fairly decisive unanimous decision at the StubHub Center, in what was an entertaining main event and the 1,001st fight in HBO Boxing history.
But the story of the night wound up being that of referee Pat Russell, who called a halt to the contest about seven or eight seconds too early, thinking he had heard the final bell. At that moment, Vargas (26-1, 9 KO) had Bradley (32-1-1, 12 KO) in some trouble, following a monster right hand that nearly put the former titleholder on the canvas.
Whether or not Bradley would have survived those final seconds isn't really the question. Most, including myself, believe he would have. He's a veteran and knows how to hold on when hurt. This is a guy who fought about 10 of 12 rounds against Ruslan Provodnikov halfway out on his feet, after all. But the fact that Vargas was robbed of his opportunity to do something spectacular stinks, though it was an honest mistake by Russell.
Also, Oscar Valdez improved to 16-0 (14 KO) with a solid if not exactly scintillating win over Ruben Tamayo (25-6-4, 17 KO) in the 1,000th fight in HBO Boxing history. Here are highlights of that fight, as well: