This bout marks Vargas' ascent to the 147 lb weight division

June 23, 2015 3:03 AM


Stub-Hub Center in Carson, California hosts what should undoubtedly be a fan friendly fight for the WBO Welterweight Title this Saturday night when undefeated Jesse Vargas (26-0, 9 KO’s) faces off with former champion Timothy Bradley (31-1-1, 12 KO’s).

This bout marks Vargas’ ascent to the 147 lb weight division after having captured both, the WBA and IBO Light Welterweight straps during a busy 2014, having fought three times in a span of only seven months.

For Bradley, he’s attempting to regain his position atop what may be the toughest division in the sport today. Odds makers have installed the much more battle tested Bradley as a significant favorite at -330, with the take back on the former Mexican Olympian Vargas, at +270.

The chance the outcome will ultimately be left in the hands of the judges has been all but assured by bookmakers who currently have the Over/Under for total rounds at 9.5. The Over is as high as -600. That reflects the probability that this fight reaches the championship rounds is greater than 85%.

That should come as no surprise when looking at both of the fighters’ records. Both Vargas and Bradley only have a combined 21 knockouts in their 60 professional fights, a ratio of only 35%. This means the result will most likely be subjective as scoring can differ greatly from judge to judge.

Again I’ll employ the old cliché, “styles make fights” because that should definitely be the case with this one since it may very well turn out to be a clash of styles. With Bradley one can’t be completely sure what they’ll get, as he’s been prone to outbox his opponents, and turn a bout into a brawl. That may very well play right into the hands of Vargas, who is very comfortable doing both.

For Bradley, he’ll need to use his snapping jab and work everything off of it. But he’ll also need to use that very effective jab while on the move. Opponents have had the most success against him when he plants his feet to try and land a big punch.

Instead, he should use his excellent footwork to stay out of harms way and keep Vargas off balance throughout. Bradley is very good at stealing rounds by throwing a flurry of punches right before the bell sounds, leaving a lasting impression with the judges.

It’s not even a debate as to which fighter has the more impressive resume. Bradley has been in the ring against the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez, Ruslan Provodnikov, and Devon Alexander. In Vargas’ defense he just turned 26 years old, but there’s no denying the fact he’s been very well protected by his handlers.

Speaking of handlers, Jesse has left former promotor Floyd Mayweather Jr. for rival Bob Arum and Top Rank Promotions. And after being trained by Jeff Mayweather early on in his career, he’s since been under the guiding of future Boxing Hall of Fame fighters, Roy Jones Jr. and Erik Morales.

For Vargas, having at least a 5 inch height advantage, he’ll need to fight tall and also use his greater reach to force Bradley out of his game. In the past, Bradley’s been most problematic to opponents when he sticks to his boxing and tries to outclass them. But when made to take more chances and lured into a brawl, he’s been beatable on the scorecards due mostly to inactivity and a lack of volume.

Vargas will need to fight the entire three minutes of each round and remain especially active when he hears the warning that sounds 10 seconds before the end of the round. He should also be very methodical in his approach and use his solid jab to disrupt Bradley’s rhythm.

 Vargas is a pressure fighter by nature but against a counter puncher like Bradley, he’ll need to try to counter the counter and never get caught squaring up. Against such a skilled boxer, Vargas has to try to entice Bradley to get wild and out of position to land his sharp and accurate punches.

His greatest punch is a solid left hook that should be there when Bradley attempts to bully him like he’s done in most of his previous bouts. Vargas has to make Tim pay otherwise he won’t be able to win this fight.

From a bettor’s perspective I believe the value lies with the underdog Vargas. I know Bradley is the more proven fighter but at 31, I also believe he may be entering the decline in his career. Let’s not forget Tim’s known as a warrior and you don’t get that moniker without having been in a number of wars.

These battles may be great for the fans but they eventually take a huge toll on a fighter. Few have been able to sustain long careers against the sport’s best without taking a lot of punishment like Floyd Mayweather Jr.

By no means am I implying that Bradley is a “shot” fighter, just saying that he’s at the point of his career where he’s taken as much as he’s given and it’s shown in his last two fights. Now he may be able to revive his career and come out looking like the young Tim Bradley who would’ve been way too hard of a puzzle to figure out for a young fighter like Vargas, but I’m not willing to lay -330 to find out

Pick: Vargas +270, OVER 9.5 rounds.

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