Two former world champions and Californian natives go head to head on Saturday June 27th at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. ‘Desert Storm’ Timothy Bradley takes on the unbeaten rising star Jesse Vargas with the interim WBO world welterweight title on the line.
After racking up a 31-0 unbeaten record Timothy Bradley’s fortunes in the ring took a turn for the worse in 2014 as he was comprehensively outpointed by Pilipino star Manny Pacquiao in April before drawing with the roughhouse Diego Chavez in December in what should have been the fight to get him back to winning ways.
The 31-year old former two time champion is now looking to regain a seat at the top table of the stacked welterweight division. He is therefore at something of a crossroad in his career and the stakes are high for him. He has the experience on his side though. He has notable wins over a whole host of world class fighters; Lamont Peterson, Devon Alexander, Juan Manuel Marquez and Ruslan Provodnikov.
He also claimed a win over Pacquiao although it was highly controversial and he almost certainly didn’t deserve the decision that night. Nevertheless, Bradley has beaten a number of high quality fighters and although he’s unspectacular in style and not a big puncher he has proven his ability on multiple occasions and will therefore enter the fight as a 1/5 favourite.
Jesse Vargas is stepping up from the light welterweight division after winning the WBA championship belt at 140lbs. A win for him would really catapult him onto the 147lb scene and raise his profile globally in what is the premier division in the sport at this moment in time.
Vargas isn’t known for being a big hitter; he has not knocked out an opponent in his last ten fights or since 2011 when he stopped Walter Estrada. With a knockout percentage of only 35% you could argue that he simply won’t carry enough power to mix it with the best of the Welterweights.
However at 5ft 10 inches tall he certainly has the size to be boxing in the welterweight division and there is a possibility that the move up in weight division could actually aid his power. He was very big at 140 and it seems likely that he was cutting a fair amount of weight to make the limit which could have taken the edge of his power shots.
26 -year old Vargas doesn’t have quite the same pressure on him going into the fight. He is young and could easily bounce back from a loss. He is the underdog priced up at 7/2 and the better value in the outright winner market certainly lies with him. He stands a good 4 inches taller than Bradley and has a 2 inch reach advantage. He surely must be looking to utilise his natural physical advantages to the maximum.
Vargas certainly has the amateur pedigree having won national titles both in Mexico and the USA and having represented Mexico at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing to do just that but he has a crowd pleasing Mexican machismo style by nature. He likes to go forward and comes for a fight and that could ultimately help the shorter Bradley to get into range.
Whilst the value lies with the unbeaten, young and hungry Vargas it seems too premature to rule Bradley out at the top table and if he can recapture his best form should have too much for Vargas at this stage.