Timothy Bradley is on the verge of regaining the full WBO welterweight title after out-pointing Jessie Vargas at the StubHub Center in California on Saturday night.
The 31 year-old, who previously won the belt from former pound for pound star Manny Pacquiao in 2012 – defending it twice, proved too elusive and experienced for the younger Vargas, who was making his debut at 147lbs after a short reign as super lightweight champion.
Both fighters were hurt during the contest, although Bradley enjoyed more success and eventually saw out the victory despite referee Pat Russell halting the fight a few seconds early by mistake.
Russell stepped in and appearently called off the fight as Bradley was covering up on the ropes following a big shot by Vargas – who proceeded to celebrate his triumph. The official had thought he’d heard the bell as the crowd roared on Vargas, but premature celebrations were cut short as the fight went to the totals.
Bradley picked up the interim belt with a 117-111, 116-112 and 115-112 victory on the scorecards, but will become the full and recognised champion with the World Boxing Organisation once world number one Floyd Mayweather Jr gives up the belt in the future.
‘Desert Storm’ pushed his record to 32-1-1 with his latest triumph, whilst Vargas, 26, dropped a first loss from 27 bouts and will have to regroup before making his return.
On the undercard, super featherweight contender Oscar Valdez made it to 16-0 with a decisive points win against Ruben Tamayo over ten rounds. Valdez, 24, took the win 99-90 and 98-90 twice with the judges and continues his steady progress towards a title shot at 126lbs.
Earlier, welterweight Ed Brown, super featherweight Leonardo Chavez, undefeated featherweight prospect Toka Kahn Clary and super lightweight Abraham Lopez were all victories on the Carson bill.