(Photo credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
After 11 rounds of boxing for the WBO Welterweight Championship, the one vacated by Floyd Mayweather last month, Timothy Bradley was ahead on the scorecards against a tough young challenger in the form of Jessie Vargas.
With :22 seconds left in the 12th and final round, Vargas nailed Bradley with a hard right hand, stunning Bradley and making him stumble. The crowd went crazy as the seconds ticked down, with Bradley holding on to Vargas for dear life with :10 seconds left. Three seconds later, referee Pat Russell stepped in and stopped the fight and Vargas, his corner and his fans went crazy, thinking that he had defeated Bradley by the fight stoppage.
As Bradley stood stunned in the corner, and team Vargas celebrated, Russell went over to the time keeper to speak with the officials. Moments later the decision was revealed.
Russell had stopped the fight because he thought that the bell had gone off, a mistake which cost Vargas a chance to finish off a hurt, yet aware, Bradley. After the discussion, the officials decided that the fight would go to the judge's scorecards, which dictated that Bradley had won the bout, and the WBO title, by unanimous decision.
Said Russell to HBO Boxing analyst Max Kellerman "Very loud in that 12th round, and I thought I heard the bell, so the fight was over when that bell went off." He went on to say "I made the call that I made based upon what I heard, that's all I can say. It's an honest call."
Though the fans booed, the two fighters seemed to accept the results, with Vargas asking for a rematch and Bradley agreeing that they could do just that.
"Why not? We can do a rematch. I don't have a problem with that. Jessie came out, he fought hard. I felt like I was in better shape than he was, that's why I was able to take control of the fight."
Many thought that Bradley got away with the victory, some feeling that he was about to be finished off in those final seconds by Vargas. But the man called "Desert Storm" held fast in his stance that he was hit hard but was fine and could finish the off match's final seconds. "I could've continued, man. I survived Provodnikov. Come on."
It's another much-debated victory for Bradley, who can't seem to win without critique and criticism. His first bout against Pacquiao, the aforementioned fight with Provodnikov and his fights against Diego Gabriel Chavez and Juan Manuel Marquez.
Bradley moves to a record of 32-1-1 (with one no decision) while Vargas suffers his first defeat and stands at 26-1.