Timothy Bradley won Saturday’s WBO title fight against Jessie Vargas in a unanimous decision, but only after a controversial ending that saw referee Pat Russell prematurely end the fight at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.
Bradley appeared to be leading the fight, but with about 15 seconds left in the 12th round, Vargas connected on an overhand right. Bradley stumbled, but remained upright. Instead of the fight’s final 10 seconds playing out, Russell stopped the fight and waved his arms to indicate he thought Vargas had won by TKO.
“He caught me with a good shot at the end,” Bradley said, according to ESPN.com. “The ref thought that he heard the bell. I was good enough. I could have maintained. I grabbed hold of him toward the end of the fight and I was squeezing him so tight it was like his mom was holding him.”
On the HBO broadcast, Russell could be heard saying, “I heard the bell.”
Vargas (26–1) began celebrating, jumping onto the ropes and pumping his fists. After a delay, however, officials decided to go to the scorecards. Ring announcer Lupe Contreras announced Bradley (32–1–1, 12 KOs) as the winner by unanimous decision (115-112; 116-112; 117-111). The victory, his fifth world title, gives Bradley the interim WBO welterweight belt vacated by Floyd Mayweather.
- Mike Fiammetta