JUST when you thought Tim Bradley was cruising to a dominant points victory over Jessie Vargas, things got weird.

Bradley had spent most of the fight trundling forward with tremendous effect. Initially wild, Tim swung himself off balance at times so desperate was he to hurt Vargas, soon enough he found his range. Vargas didn’t get drawn in, as he often has in the past, he wisely stuck to the back foot and tried to make use of his height and reach advantages. It’s just that his jab couldn’t stop Bradley closing in and Tim merrily shook him with hard uppercuts and hooks.

So far so clear points win. But in the dying seconds of the 12th round, Vargas smashed an almightly right hand fully into Bradley’s jaw. It wobbled him, as well it should, in fact Tim did well to stay on his feet. Vargas set after him, swinging, missing, Bradley held. Referee Pat Russell stepped in to part them, the clapper sounded to indicate their were 10 seconds left. Russell decided it was the bell to end the fight and waved it over. Vargas naturally assumed he was halting Bradley and so ran to the corner post to celebrate, as the final seven seconds of the fight leaked away and he lost his chance to snatch an unlikely victory. This madness reigned.

The final result was probably the right one, Bradley winning on points. Given how resilient Tim is it’s unlikely Vargas could have halted him. But that element of doubt remains and perhaps that will be enough to justify a rematch. Just to make things weirder still Bradley started talking about moving up to 154lbs. Does that mean he wants a fight with Miguel Cotto, or Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez or even Gennady Golovkin, all three of whom similarly fight on HBO?

Given his size Bradley, who’s now a WBO Interim champion, surely belongs at welterweight. The world isn’t going to be desperate to see a third encounter with Manny Pacquiao but what about IBF champion Kell Brook? That would be a real fight.

Here are HBO’s video highlights:


Photo: Chris Farina