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Bradley-Vargas: Tim needs a big win to keep his sagging career alive

Timothy BradleyBy Chris Williams: Former two division world champion Tim Bradley (31-1-1, 12 KOs) will be trying to interrupt his streak of poor performances when he faces unbeaten Jessie Vargas (26-0, 9 KOs) in a 12 round fight in nine days from now on HBO Championship Boxing at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.

Bradley needs this win to turn things around for him because he’s starting to look like a shot fighter. It’s still unclear if the WBO 147 pound title will be on the line. Floyd Mayweather Jr. captured the WBO strap off of Manny Pacquiao, and the next thing he knew there were reports that the title would be on the line for the Bradley-Vargas fight despite the fact that Mayweather never even received the belt. That’s pretty unbelievable and very, very sad.

Bradley’s once career is in the worst position it’s ever been in with him not having won a fight in two years since 2013. At 31, Bradley has seen better days, and it’s hard to know where he can go from here if he loses to the 26-year-old Vargas, who is moving up from the light welterweight division to take the fight with Bradley.

With Pacquiao getting old and likely only fighting two more times before retirement, Bradley has pretty much run out of big fights for the remainder of his career. With Bradley tied to Top Rank for all of 2016, he’s pretty much locked into a situation where he won’t be getting any big fights for a long, long time.

There’s really no one left for Bradley to fight at this point other than Terence Crawford, Brandon Rios and a rematch with Diego Chaves. None of those fights would be a big money fight. None. As bad as Bradley looked in his last two fights against Diego Chaves and Pacquiao, I have doubts whether he’ll even beat a limited fighter like Vargas. The 5’6” Bradley will be giving up four inches in height and two inches in reach to Vargas, and that could be significant.

It means that Bradley won’t be able to stand on outside and jab against Vargas. He’ll have to get in the trenches with him and hope that he can do a better job slugging than he did against Pacquiao and Chaves. Bradley took a lot of punishment in both of those fights, including his 2013 fight against Ruslan Provodnikov.

Bradley was concussed in that fight when he tried to slug with the Russian fighter, and he was very lucky to have escaped with a victory. While Bradley got the win, he’s looked either boring or bad since then in fights against Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao and Chaves.

Vargas is nothing special. He’s the WBA 140lb champion, but he’s looked really poor in his last three fights against Antonio DeMarco, Anton Novikov and Khabib Allakhverdiev. Vargas fought well enough to lose all three of those fights. I had him losing all of them, and I thought he looked bad.

It was surprising that after the way Vargas looked in those fights that his promoter Bob Arum was reportedly interested in matching him against Pacquiao. I didn’t understand it, but I also didn’t understand why Arum wasted Pacquiao’s time in matching him against Chris Algieri, Brandon Rios, Bradley and Joshua Clottey. Those are really poor matches and it resulted in Pacquiao getting low PPV numbers.

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