SAN DIEGO, June 26, 2015 – The last time Timothy Bradley (31-1-1, 12 KOs) appeared in a bout at the StubHub Center in Carson, California on March 16, 2013 against Ruslan Provodnikov, it turned out to be the memorable 2013 Fight of the Year.
As a result, Bradley won two fights, first with Manny Pacquiao and another with Juan Manual Marquez. Then Bradley went through 2014 without a win. He lost a rematch with Pacquiao in May; then in December, Bradley was left with a perplexing draw against Diego Chaves.
Suddenly, the former top pound for pound competitor finds himself in a must-win position against undefeated Jessie Vargas (26-0, 9 KOs). The pair will be back at StubHub, a venue that seems to bring the best out of everyone, Saturday night. HBO has the broadcast starting at 9:45 p.m. ET.
Vargas, 26, is moving up from super lightweight for this bout, where he was ranked in the top five. It’s a big test for the Las Vegas native, who grew up watching Floyd Mayweather and was once promoted by him. A win for Vargas puts him into a new category with the opportunity to get in the ring with much bigger names for much bigger purses.
One significant difference between Bradley and Vargas is their relationship with their trainers. A year ago, Vargas started working with Roy Jones Jr., after running through several trainers in the previous couple of years. Jones seemed to make a lot of progress with Vargas. A month ago, when Jones couldn’t devote enough time to Vargas leading up to Saturday’s bout, Vargas replaced Jones with the great Mexican champion Erik Morales. While Morales’ record in the ring is impressive, those skills don’t always translate into becoming a trainer of equal stature. The two say they’ve bonded quickly and are working well together.
Bradley has been working with Joel Diaz his entire professional career, and it serves him well. Bradley is among the best-trained, toughest fighters in boxing. It allowed him to take tremendous punishment in his fight with Provodnikov. Great for the fans, maybe not so great for Bradley. He’s not a knockout artist, but neither is Vargas. They have fewer knockouts between them as Gennady Golovkin has all by himself in half the number of fights.
Earlier this week, Bradley wrote on Facebook, “I trained harder than I trained for the Pacquiao fight. I WANT THIS BELT. This is my son’s belt. I have 5 kids and this will be my fifth world title. I will give him this belt and we’ll take a family portrait with all my kids having one belt each.”
It is possible this bout could be a mostly tactical bout, with both exercising some patience in looking for an opportunity to do damage. But it is likely this pair will want to put on more of an aggressive show, based on their combative appearances together during news conferences, uncharacteristic of both Bradley and Vargas who are generally cheerful and easygoing men.
Vargas and the ever combative Morales have goaded Bradley in the weeks leading up to the fight, which caused Bradley to post a video on Top Rank’s website saying in part, “Jessie Vargas, I’m gonna whup his ass on Saturday and if Morales got a problem and he want some he can get some at the end of the year too, ‘cause I got two fights this year,” Bradley said. Vargas shrugged it off, saying Bradley was cracking under the pressure. Morales added, “I would fight Bradley any day of the week.” (Better rethink that one after being whipped by Danny Garcia). Later, Bradley apologized for blowing up.
See today’s face-off at the weigh-in here.
The difference Saturday could boil down to heart rather than skill. Who wants it more: the young, hungry fighter on his way up? Or the accomplished veteran who wants to prove his best isn’t behind him? Look for an action packed fight that will go the distance and give fans lots of action. Don’t forget that it’s at StubHub, which has a way of working some sort of boxing alchemy on fighters.
Another ingredient worth mentioning: the assignment of referee Pat Russell, who was the referee for Bradley vs. Provodnikov and seems to have a way of being in the ring for FOTY bouts including Matthysse vs. Molina in 2014 and Rios vs. Alvarado I in 2012.
If Floyd Mayweather gives up his WBO welterweight title belt, whoever wins this bout will acquire it. Both men made weight at 146.4 pounds.
The undercard features two Mexican featherweights in a 10-round bout. Making his HBO debut, two-time Mexican Olympic Team member Oscar Valdez (16-0, 14 KOs), age 24, tangles with Mexican southpaw Ruben Tamayo (23-5-4, 15 KOs), age 26. These two Sonorans have plenty of skills to thrill the Southern California fans. Valdez seems to be part of the young wave of hot young fighters in the smaller weight divisions. He is coming off a nice three-fight knockout streak. It is his first 10 round bout. Tamayo needs to shake off his December fifth round TKO loss to Jesus Cuellar.
As an interesting historical note, the undercard fight will be HBO’s 1000th televised fight. The first one: January 22, 1973 from Kingston, Jamaica, between Joe Frazier and George Foreman. According to HBO , it has broadcast fights from 34 states plus the District of Columbia, and 19 foreign countries included Mexico, Canada, Great Britain, Argentina, Germany, Denmark, Russia, Monaco, the Philippines, China and Japan. HBO has been to Las Vegas alone 178 times. Fighters who have appeared the most times Roy Jones Jr. and Oscar de la Hoya tied for 32 fights each; Lennox Lewis and Manny Pacquiao are tied for second with 23, with Bernard Hopkins on their heels at 22 fights.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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