My word…what was going on inside of Ricky Hatton’s mind as he watched Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley, outfight, and drop defending champ Junior Witter en route to winning a curiously close scored split decision to lift the WBC Jr. welter title?
This being a fight that easily could’ve been Hatton vs. Witter to determine which guy was the best at140lbs. in the world. Not to mention a huge domestic gate, with American fight fans watching at home on HBO or Showtime, making it the biggest payday in the much-avoided Witter’s career. But it was not to be, because of Hatton’s reluctance to fight the unorthodox, hard punching southpaw, who looked to be in his prime at the age of 34, fresh off his destruction of the taller, rangier, murderous punching, yet chinny, wild-swinging Vivian Harris, within 7 lopsided rounds.
So, Junior Witter, a fighter most insiders felt was being frozen out of the #1 spot at Jr. welter, & without another big fight in sight, signed to face the WBC #1 mandatory contender in Bradley, as absolutely no more than a tune-up for “bigger” opportunities, that Witter was sure in his mind to receive in the near future; perhaps forcing the bout of his dreams with Hatton.
In Timothy Bradley, now (22-0-11 KO’s), we had a young pugilist who looked to be a solid, well-conditioned athlete, with good boxing skills, but highly untested in the upper echelons of the division.
Without fighting any boxer in the top 15 (?) of a stacked Jr. welterweight
division, the shorter Bradley seemed to be an easy mark for the taller Witter on paper. Not only was this to be the exposure Junior Witter craved, it was to showcase himself to the American audience at the expense of Timothy Bradley, in a seemingly routine challenge.
As round one commenced, Witter attempted to prove his dominance, as he moved around the ring in his ‘Prince Hamed’ style of in-and-out, erratic, unorthodox movement on fresh legs, while switching from the southpaw to orthodox and throwing a variety of punches that made the crowd cheer, but for the most part seemed to be ineffective, and off their projected mark, as Timothy Bradley, fighting out of the conventional style, showed an animated calmness, utilizing some nifty defense, while countering well to the body, and testing the waters with his straight right.
I gave the round to Witter by a small margin, on punch out-put.
Round two looked very similar, except in my eyes, Bradley was more effective as he countered effectively, and clearly landed the more deliberate shots, while Witter continuously threw arm punches that were defended, or cuffing at best. On my card, it was Bradley’s round.
By the middle of the third round, the frustration on Witter’s face
seemed premature, but told volumes about his performance thus far, as Bradley constantly out-did Witter from the outside, and the inside, with scoring shots that landed solidly, while Junior’s punches still lacked any of his highly touted pop, or continued to miss.
Rounds 4 and 5 looked almost like exact replica’s of the previous two, only with Timothy looking more confident, landing the clean, harder shots to the body and face of Witter whenever he let his hands go, as both men looked to counter and posed during long, valuable stretches of the rounds.
With the next round being pivotal, it seemed that Junior had to feel some urgency in his corner. He’d looked dismal thus far.
Round 6 looked no different than the previous for the first two and a half minutes, until Timothy Bradley threw a perfectly timed looping over-hand right that nailed Junior Witter square on the jaw, and deposited him hard flat on his back, in his own corner. The champion was clearly shaken as he made it up on shaky legs at the count of 8, Bradley didn’t capitalize, and Witter made it to the bell.
With a 10-8 Rd. for Bradley in the bank, it seemed Junior had to win the rest of the rounds, or pull off something dramatic to justify a victory.
But he could not do it.
For the remainder of the fight, Witter now, (36-2-2-21 KO’s) was running out of gas, punching in sloppy, ineffective single ‘pot’ shots, while the smaller Bradley remained unaffected, and kept a tight defense and scored with bursts of quick punches.
Witter had absolutely no answers.
There was no “Plan-B” in his much-lauded repertoire to fend off Bradley’s spurious, but precise, intense attacks.
It seemed at times, as awful Junior Witter was performing, Tim could’ve stepped up his attack, but perhaps it being his first big fight
experience, he remained content to box within himself, and take no unnecessary chances, due to Witter’s one punch power.
At the end of round 11, Bradley shook Witter with another right hand, and the Brit went back to his corner with a busted up left eye.
The 12th round saw more of the same, as an excellently conditioned Bradley fought in his restrained, yet effective way, as he had his way with an exhausted Witter, landing sweeping lefts and winging right hands that had the champ reeling around the ring with blood trickling down his face.
At the end, the verdict rendered was a ridiculously too close split- decision, scored 115-113, 114-113 for Bradley, and an obvious, home town, myopic-by-choice score of 115-112 for a beaten Witter. I had Bradley up 8-4.
Timothy Bradley deserves all the credit in the world for his title winning effort in beating either an over-confident Witter, or a guy that was once an oversea enigma in the sport, get old before our eyes.
We’ve seen it happen before with good fighters who’d hung around the sport too long and lost to lesser fighters because they couldn’t walk away from the sport, even though their best days were behind them.
These two scenarios, I believe, could’ve been the case, but Bradley’s style could have upset Witter on his best day, for a number of tactical reasons.
Junior Witter will never go down in boxing history as an all time great. In his only pro loss to Zab Judah, (L12) early in both of their careers, he didn’t come close to being hurt, and hasn’t ever taken a beating since, but the defeat at the hands of Tim Bradley could make a strong case for Witter to reevaluate the resuming of his career.
He honestly looked one dimensional, slow, amateurish, and shot.
Not to take away from Timothy Bradley’s performance, for this is just the beginning of his championship reign.
Just how he got to be the WBC #1 mandatory, is a moot question now.
He got the job done, and silenced the boisterous Witter’s supporters before the knock down even occurred. After the knock down occurred, Timothy beat on Junior like a drum to only spars chants that died out as quickly as they’d started. They could see exactly what was happening in the ring.
How long he’ll reign as WBC champ remains to be seen, but one thing is certain; Timothy Bradley will be in top shape for every defense, he’s young, undefeated, and with this win behind him, he’s getting the experience he needs, and gaining the “big fight” type experience, even in hostile territory, as he proved.
Congrats to Tim and his team, and hopefully he can continue to prove all the experts wrong who pick against him.
I’m sure Ricky Hatton is somewhere in a pub feeling mixed emotions, but relieved- and silently thanking you Tim.
And hopefully, he’ll show his appreciation by giving you a world title shot.
Philip H. Anselmo
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