Funny how the tenor of things can change – or perhaps more accurately it’s more the idea that all good things must come to an end. This would seem to explain the atmosphere surrounding the lead up to and the ultimate culmination of Timothy Bradley Jr. (31-1-1, 12 KOs), of Palm Springs, CA vs. Jessie Vargas (26-0, 9 KOs), of Las Vegas, NV for the WBA Super Lightweight Title this Saturday, June 27 at the StubHub Center in Carson, CA live on HBO starting at 9:45PM ET/PT. Not that it won’t be a good fight – it doesn’t look that way at all with all of the drama flying left, right and center in this last week and a half. However, with Bradley finding himself for the first time in the role of the old former champion fighting suggestions that his best days are behind him and Jessie Vargas as the fresh up and coming undefeated current World Champion looking to cement his position as the new guard pushing the likes of the Bradleys, Pacquiaos and Mayweathers out of the way and into the sunset with a definitive defense of his WBA World Championship belt, a considerable degree of professional good is about to end for the loser and be consumed by the victor as overflowing spoils for a new king of the hill.
Ironically, before things got awkward for these two affable Top Rank promoted fighters, both Vargas and Bradley were quite similar in their down to earth affect with the press and big name opponents within the game. Typically when it comes to Vargas and Bradley, as a rule there is no flashy flaunting of that je ne sais quoi “bling you wish you had” antics like a Floyd Mayweather (48-0, 26KOs) or an Adrien Broner (30-2, 22KOs). Additionally, there is no all you can eat dark cloud barrage of brooding trash talk rained down relentlessly upon opponents in the fashion of a Bermane Stiverne (24-2-1, 21KOs), or a Thomas Dulorme (22-2, 14KOs). Bradley and Vargas tend to be the opposite of all of that fripponery as two guys cut from the same cloth in showing up to do their press with the understanding that the real fighting happens in the ring on fight night and nowhere else. Yet this time around, akin to two like forces colliding and canceling each other out, resulting in a completely different and more violent chemical reaction, to borrow from the iconic dude film BAD BOYS, “sh*t got real,” between the two warriors in these last few days outside of the ring before the battle. It would appear that the precipitating factors were real less than ideal circumstances on the part of both Bradley and Vargas going into Saturday, June 27th.
For Bradley, the circumstances were more traditional in that they stem from the reality that as the veteran who has suffered some injuries, he is in the uncomfortable position of needing to prove to the public at large (as well as himself, perhaps) that he still has what it takes to fight at the top World Championship Level as a relevant A-lister. For Vargas, the issues are more unusual for someone who is the defending WBA World Champion and facing his first significant title defense. With only two weeks remaining until fight night, Vargas was forced to switch trainers from legend Roy Jones Jr. (61-8, 44KOs) to the also legendary Erik “el Terrible” Morales (52-9, 36KOs) – something that doesn’t generally happen unless there is a serious problem. However whatever the pressures may be, it was the younger less experienced Vargas who seemed to keep his cool better under pressure than the veteran Bradley. It was Bradley’s initial very public response to stated “ slights” in the way Vargas and his team referred to Bradley’s and his age, (relatively typical fodder for the mill), that Bradley claimed made him uncharacteristically caustic in a now rather infamous rant in the last week up to the fight directed to Vargas and his new trainer, Morales: “ Jessie Vargas, I’m going to whup his ass on Saturday and if (Erik) Morales got a problem, and he wants some he can get some at the end of the year too cause I got two fights this year,” sounded off an agitated and fired up Bradley, going even further as to taunt Morales about his weight, claiming that he would even fight him at 200 pounds. In yesterday’s final press conference, Bradley did apologize for his outburst, explaining it away as the rash response of being caught on tape just arriving to LA in the midst of exhaustion, extreme hunger and in need of a bathroom. He also made a point of apologizing to Morales, but in Vargas’ solo public workout earlier this week, Vargas was more sanguine wait and see about Bradley’s vitriol and what was actually triggering the outburst – fear and nerves: quote about Bradley being nervous, stating: “It’s fear. If that is the case, he heard whatever he heard… but it was a little shiver,” said Vargas coolly at his pubic workout at The Fortune Gym, continuing, “You don’t know Tim to be that type of fighter that loses control but he loses control because he’s scared of the outcome… it’s going to make him weaker,” shared Vargas.
Also, with regard to Bradley’s claims that he has gone back to basics and that he is effortlessly hurting younger hungrier guys and thus anything but nervous or shaken as he comes closer to fight night, in an unwitting GAME OF THRONES nod to Varys and all of his spying “little birds”, Vargas suggested that he too has a direct line on exactly how Bradley’s mental game is holding up going into their battle on June 27. “What (Bradley) doesn’t know is that I get along with a lot of people and his own sparring partners have told me how nervous he is and a little bit of his weaknesses. So all of those are just quick benefits. I have an edge,” concluded Vargas.
However perhaps to borrow from Shakespeare, perhaps both sides doth protest too much about cooler heads prevailing. After all, when both men went into their stare down, yesterday, despite all of the make nice gentlemanly declarations, actions spoke larger than the words when Bradley jr. had to be pulled away from a decidedly un sanguine Vargas by Bradley Sr. As such, it should be extremely interesting to see how and to what degree this bad blood, nerves, back and forth confidence issues – indeed this whole pre fight witches’ brew bubbles over and pops off in the ring.
Written by Kylie Krabbe
Photos by Kylie Krabbe
June 27th 2015