By: William Holmes
On Saturday night HBO’s World Championship Boxing series returns to the Stub Hub Center in Carson, California as Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley Jr. takes on upcoming prospect Jessie Vargas for the vacant WBO Interim Welterweight title.
Saturday is seen by many as a crossroads fight for both Bradley and Vargas. Bradley wants to prove he still belongs in the conversation for elite welterweights and Vargas wants to prove he should be included in that conversation.
Oscar Valdez and Ruben Tamayo will open up the broadcast in the welterweight division.
The following is a preview of both televised fights.
Oscar Valdez (15-0) vs. Ruben Tamayo (25-5-4); Featherweights
Oscar Valdez is a rising featherweight with an undefeated record and he has only had one professional fight go the distance. He qualified for the Olympics first at the age of seventeen and qualified against in the 2012 Summer Olympics for Mexcio.
He’s one of the Top Rank’s most prized prospects and he is only twenty four years old with a lot of room to grow.
Tamayo doesn’t have the amateur credentials of Valdez, but he will have a significant height advantage. Tamayo will walk into the ring at 5’10” tall and will be nearly four and a half inches taller than Valdez. He will also have a slight inch and a half reach advantage on his opponent. But, Valdez has the edge everywhere else.
Valdez has stopped fourteen of his opponents, including four of his past five fights. Tamayo has stopped seventeen of his opponents, but he has also lost two of his past six fights, including a fifth round stoppage in his last fight against Jesus Cuellar.
Tamayo has defeated the likes of Efrain Esquivias and Jose Cayetano. His losses were to Jesus Cuellar, Jesus Ruiz, Genaro Camargo, Jesus Navarro, and Cesar Lopez.
Valdez’s resume includes victories over Jose Ramirez, Alberto Garza, and Noel Echevarria.
This fight is a showcase for Valdez against an long and rangy opponent that was just recently stopped. Valdez should win by stoppage, but he will also get some good experience against a taller opponent that fights out of a southpaw stance.
Timothy Bradley Jr. (31-1-1) vs. Jessie Vargas (26-0); WBO Interim Welterweight Title
Timothy Bradley is only thirty one, an age that most would consider him to be in his athletic prime still, but the current trainer of Jessie Vargas, Erik Morales, has gone on record as stating that Bradley is over the hill. Vargas is five years Bradley’s junior and this will be by far the biggest fight of his career.
Bradley is not a big welterweight. He will be giving up four inches in height and approximately two inches in reach to Vargas. Neither boxer is known for their power. Bradley has only stopped twelve of his opponents, including none of his past five fights and his last stoppage victory was way back in 2011. Vargas only has nine stoppage victories, and ten of his past fights have went the distance and he hasn’t had a stoppage victory since 2011.
Both Bradley and Vargas have had successful amateur careers. Vargas is a two-time Mexican National Champion and a member of the 2008 Mexican Olympic team. Bradley has won the Police Athletic League National Tournament and was a two time National Champion as an amateur.
At this point in their careers Bradley has the more impressive resume. His lone loss came to Manny Pacquiao in April of 2014. He has defeated the likes of Diego Chavez, Juan Manuel Marquez, Ruslan Provodnikov, Manny Pacquiao, Joel Casamayor, Devon Alexander, Lamont Peterson, and Kendall Holt. However, it should be noted that three of his past four victories have come by way of split decision.
Vargas’ past three fights have been fought at the junior welterweight limit, but he has competed in the welterweight division before. His notable victories include Antonio DeMarco, Josesito Lopez, Khabib Allakhverdiev, Ray Narh, and Steve Forbes.
This will be a tough test for Bradley, but he has never been one to shy away from a tough opponent and he has faced considerable more dangerous opponents than Vargas. Vargas can outbox you, but he doesn’t have the power to hurt you and Bradley will likely walk through Vargas’ punches. Bradley has not had a good dominating win in awhile, and Saturday will not be any different. This fight should go the distance, and Bradley’s experience will give him the slight edge when the fight goes to the scorecards.