By: William Holmes
The Stubhub Center in Carson, California was the host site for tonight’s HBO World Championship boxing series. Top Rank Promotions was the lead promoter for the card and it featured two televised bouts.
Tonight was also a historical landmark for HBO as it featured the 1000th fight in HBO’s storied history of televising boxing. A montage featuring some of HBO’s biggest moments in the sport of boxing was shown before the start of the broadcast.
The opening bout was between Oscar Valdez (15-0) and Ruben Tamayo (23-5) in the super featherweight division.
Valdez fought out of an orthodox stance while Tamayo fought as a southpaw. Valdez’s straight right hand was on point in the first round and it looked like he was going to coast through it, until a straight left hand landed for Tamayo while their feet were entangled that forced a knockdown that could have been ruled a slip.
Valdez was able to recover and open up the second round with a good short right uppercut and several left hooks Valdez had Tamayo stunned at the end of the second round with a straight right hand.
Valdez’s left hooks were very accurate in the third round and showed a willingness to exchange with Tamayo when in tight. Valdez landed the harder punches when in tight, and Tamayo was warned for a low blow.
Valdez continued to pick Tamayo apart in the fourth and fifth rounds and Valdez was landing over 50% of his punches by the start of the fifth. Valdez was landing his double right hand combination in the sixth round and Tamayo was warned again for a low blow in the sixth.
Valdez did not show any signs of slowing down in the seventh round and he continuously pop shotted Tamayo while turning him and getting advantageous angles. Tamayo landed another low blow on Valdez in the seventh round and lost a point.
Tamayo was warned for another low blow in the eighth round, but it was Valdez was getting a reaction from the crowd with his eye opening combinations.
Tamayo clearly needed a knockout in the final two rounds to win the fight, but it was Valdez who was actively going for the knockout, especially in the final and last round.
The decision was never in doubt when the judges announced the final scores of 98-90, 98-90, and 99-90 for Oscar Valdez.
The main event of the night was between Timothy Bradley Jr. (31-1-1 ) and Jessie Vargas (26-0 ) in the welterweight division for the WBO Interim Title. There were still a lot of empty seats in the arena at the start of the fight.
Bradley looked to be in incredible shape like he always does and he attacked the body of Vargas in the opening round. Many fans in attendance could be heard chanting for Bradley, and Bradley responded well to the chants with a good first round that ended with a hard straight right hand for him.
Bradley came out aggressive in the second round by applying pressure to the body of Vargas, but Vargas was able to slow Bradley down with a hard left hook to the body of Bradley later followed by a right hook upstairs. Both boxers showed they were willing to exchange and give the fans an action fight in the second round, which may have gone to Vargas.
Bradley opened up the third round with a hard right uppercut, and Vargas responded by sticking to his jab to keep Bradley at a distance. Bradley’s aggressiveness continued in the fourth round and he landed several hard right hands that got the crowd’s attention and the attention of his opponent.
Bradley opened up the fifth round with a blistering combination that stunned Vargas and he showed that he was not afraid of the power of Vargas, but he ate two consecutive hard right hands from Vargas at the end of the round that might have given Vargas the round.
The action in the sixth round wasn’t as active as previous rounds, but it did feature a good exchange by the ropes in the closing moments of the round and it was Bradley that was moving forward throughout it.
Vargas’ face was showing signs of swelling in the seventh round and Bradley landed a vicious right hand near the ropes in the opening thirty seconds, perhaps his best punch of the fight at that point, that set the tone of the round as Vargas was constantly backing up and getting moved by nearly every punch of Bradley.
Bradley may have been stunned by a body punch from Vargas in the eighth round as he momentarily slowed down and backed himself into a corner, but he was able to recover and finish the round aggressively.
Bradley mixed up his combinations to the body and head well in the ninth round and he lokoed as fresh in that round as he did in the opening round, while Vargas did look like he was visibly tiring. Bradley continued to press forward in the tenth round and had Vargas backing up and taking several hard shots to the body by Bradley.
Bradley had a small cut underneath his left eye that began to show signs of swelling in the eleventh round, but Vargas still didn’t do enough to decisively win the round in the eyes of most observers.
Most felt Vargas needed the knockout to win the fight in the final round of the fight, and he almost got it as Vargas had Bradley badly hurt with a right hook square on Bradley’s chin that had Bradley stumbling by the ropes and nearly out on his feet. To make matters more interesting the referee heard the ten second warning bell and thought it meant that the round was over and called the fight over. But Vargas wrongly thought it meant the fight had stopped it due to a TKO and immediately started to celebrate it as he had won, but the fight had to go to the scorecards.
The last round certainly made the fight more interesting, and the final scores were 116-112, 117-111, and 115-112 for Timothy Bradley Jr.