In the biggest step up of his career, previously unbeaten Jessie Vargas was outworked and out-boxed by Timothy Bradley to lose for this first time in his career. However, Vargas landed a very big right hand that wobbled Bradley with just under 20 seconds left in the Round. Bradley went into retreat and survive mode to ride out the clock and received a huge assist from referee Pat Russell, who ruled the fight over when 10 secondd still remained, apparently because he confused the sound of the ten second warning stick clack with the sound of the rinal bell.
Russell is an experienced veteran referee and I have seen several of his recent high-profile bouts, where he performed his job seemlessly. However, his miscue in this case seriously compromised the result of the fight. Bradley has weathered similar desperate moments when he appeared out on his feet, most notably in his 2013 war with Ruslan Provodnikov. At the time of the stoppage, he had just grabbed a strong clinch on Vargas. Still, after landed such a well-timed shot, Vargas deserved the opportunity to push for the dramatic finish with every second available to him.
The premature ending to the fight creates an unfair situation for Bradley, too, as it cast a shadow of doubt over what had been a very good performance for him. After fighting on relatively even terms with Vargas over the first half of the fight, Bradley had taken control against the undefeated, younger fighter.
Given how things ended, a rematch might make sense. It would be interesting to see whether or not Vargas can find that big right hand earlier in the fight.
At the same time, Bradley could factor as a participant in a number of other fights in the alwyas competitive welterweight division. I would love to see Bradley matched against one of the younger, emerging stars at 147, such as Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman or IBF beltholder Kell Brook. Bradley has had unfinished business with Amir Khan since the two were champions at 140 pounds. Another option could be Terence Crawford, depending upon how soon the two-division champion decides he wants to move to welterweight.
With Floyd Mayweather looking at one last fight before retiring, Bradley would be a credible option. He’s one of the biggest stars left at welterweight who Mayweather has never faced. Bradley’s experience and physicality would make him a tougher opponent for the pound-for-pound king than most other fighters at 147 pounds.