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A Head Above the Rest

A few weeks ago, after a sparring session, Timothy Bradley said, "As a kid, my favorite fighter was Evander Holyfield," then he paused and remarked on a commonality between his idol and himself: "They complained about his head. They complain about mine."

Tonight at the Show in the Agua Caliente Casino of Rancho Mirage, Calif., hometown favorite Timothy Bradley (26-0) did not shy from putting his cranium to use, not only with potent headbutts, but also impressive intellect. His Argentine challenger, Luis Carlos Abregu was handed his first defeat by way of Bradley's white Grant gloves and the judges' unanimous decision (118-110, 116-112, 117-111), his record falling to 29-1. Despite a cut opened over Bradley's right eye in the first round (from a headbutt he delivered), Bradley rarely wavered from a disciplined fight.  

As a prelude to the bout, the telegenic 27 year-old prospect Alfredo Angulo (19-1) ended the comeback of former junior middleweight titlist Joachim Alcine (31-2) with a technical knockout in the first round's final second. Attendance was 2442, which out in the 115-degree Coachella Valley desert is a sellout of swimming success. A woman from media relations proudly replied to an inquiry that the venue normally seats just 2028: "We're beyond capacity." The crowd favored Bradley clearly, though a few drunken audience members shouted a refrain of "Knock him out already!" at absolutely neither fighter in particular.

Bradley did not merely outbox Abregu -- he outclassed him. As expected, Bradley taught Abregu a remedial lesson in science. However, at the end of the 12th round, Bradley also stood in the pocket and traded shots with Abregu, as if to show the Argentine exactly what a complete fighter looks like so that he might not attempt to fight one again in the future. The crowd erupted in applause. That said, Bradley dove into many punches and at times would fight Abregu's fight rather than his own.Bradley may be a titlist of multifaceted talents, but he is still not quite the refined pound-for-pound elite fighter many extol him to be.

Bradley vs Abregu ss05

Throughout the bout, Bradley moved continuously to his right like a southpaw keeping Abregu frustrated. After Abregu threw a right, his feet would square up. Repeatedly, Bradley exploited this mistake to nullify his 4" height disadvantage by landing a jab to Abregu's centered abdomen causing the Argentine to drop his hands, then feeding him an overhand right. By the fourth, Abregu had a deep cut on his right eyelid, but it was in the seventh round that the fight turned a corner: Bradley accidentally headbutted Abregu flooring him, and subsequently Bradley landed a right uppercut that caused Abregu to attempt to clinch. Bradley continued to inflict damage with a free left hand. While Abregu never quit, he also never recovered.

Abregu eked out a round or two largely due to Bradley's lessened activity in the sixth and ninth stanzas, but overall he could not cut the ring off adequately on Bradley to let his hands go. In the fifth, the Argeninte did not connect with a single jab. (Overall, Bradley landed 159 of 531 punches to Abregu's 93 of 583.)

The fight was largely a test to see if Bradley could handle the additional seven pounds that the welterweight division requires him to carry on his frame and endure in opposing power. The current World Boxing Organization's Junior Welterweight Champion, Bradley moved up in weight in hopes of opening his options beyond other junior welterweight champions like Devon Alexander and Amir Khan for the potential bigger money of welterweights Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.  

A few weeks ago, Bradley's trainer Joel Diaz said, "I consider Manny Pacquiao the greatest fighter in the world." In a postfight interview with HBO after his victory, Bradley didn't hesitate to call Pacquiao out. He then focused his eyes into the camera and said he'd fight Devon Alexander, Marcos Maidana, and eventually named Amir Khan after first blanking on his name.  

It should have been a happy moment, but whatever reckless anger Bradley bridled in the ring in pursuit of victory tonight, he released in that moment of that interview. Even in success, Bradley can be angry. Even as champion, he remains hungry. If boxing is lucky, he will stay that way for years to come.

 

Bradley did not merely outbox Abregu -- he outclassed him.

Posted 12:00 AM | Jul 17, 2010

Timothy Bradley vs. Luis Carlos Abregu

HBO BAD - July 17, 2010

Angulo vs. Alcine