By Elliot Foster (@FreelanceFoz)
Tim Bradley got back to winning ways in California.
The former WBO welterweight champion, who had lost his last two since beating Manny Pacquiao, claimed the interim version of the title, live on HBO in the States and on BoxNation in the UK.
Bradley won the belt with a decision victory over previously undefeated Jessie Vargas at the StubHub Center in Carson.
The first two rounds were comfortably given to ‘Desert Storm’ as he was piercing Vargas’ guard with shots at every opportunity, but the WBA light welterweight champion had a go in the third round, landing left hands to his opponent’s head.
But from the fourth round onwards, the pendulum swung in the favour of the 31-year-old.
The fight continued in a similar fashion up until the final round, when the controversy began.
Vargas piled the pressure on Bradley with around about 30 seconds remaining in the round. He landed a right to the head and as his opponent circled away he went in for the kill, landing three or four more shots before Bradley held to survive.
After the 10-second klaxon to signal the end of the round sounded, the referee –– Pat Russell, who refereed Bradley-Provodnikov –– waved his hands across the chest of Bradley, signalling the end of the fight.
The champion a division south began to celebrate, but as the actual bell sounded, seven seconds earlier than it should have, Russell had to explain that he had misinterpreted the klaxon for the end-of-the-round bell.
The win moves Bradley on to 32-1-1 (12), while a first professional defeat means that Vargas slips to 26-1 with nine early.
Elsewhere, Mexico’s Óscar Valdez got off the floor after a rocky start to dominate challenger Ruben Tamayo over 10 rounds.
With the win, the 24-year-old featherweight advanced his professional record to 16 wins with 14 stoppages, while Tamayo, also from Mexico, dropped to 25-6-4 (17).by