Former WBO welterweight champion, Timothy Bradley, made his long awaited return to the ring at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, Nevada, against tough Argentinean, Diego Chaves. Bradley was coming off of his first professional loss to the hands of Manny Pacquiao earlier in the year and was eager to prove he still belonged with the elite of the division.
Chaves was making his fourth appearance on American soil, having lost two of his last three fights, one a TKO loss to Keith Thurman and the other a disqualification loss to Brandon Rios. With his back against the ropes, Chaves desperately needed a win to continue his campaign in the United States. Tim Bradley walked in as the favorite going into the fight, with the high level of championship bouts he had taken part of before and being that his only loss was to one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport.
As the bell to round one sounded, Diego Chaves immediately began swinging at Bradley. Chaves was looking to use his quick hands to catch ‘Desert Storm’ cold early in the round. Many people felt that Chaves’ only shot was to land his power early and look to hurt Tim Bradley and possibly drag him into an all out war. Bradley — much like in the Ruslan Provodnikov fight — went at Chaves and began throwing bombs of his own. Tim timed his overhand right, which clipped Chaves on the jaw and managed to use his head movement to avoid damage.
Round two started with Bradley again as the aggressor, rushing in and digging shots on the inside both to the head and body of the Argentinean fighter. Midway through the round the two fighters clashed heads, Bradley was visibly bothered by the impact. As the action resumed, Bradley went back to work and landed many significant shots. The action was halted shortly after by a second headbutt. The clashes of heads left both fighters with injuries, Bradley’s left cheek immediately began to swell and Chaves had a cut on his forehead.
The third round saw yet another headbutt, the third of the night. Referee, Tony Weeks did not stop the action despite screams of pain from the former champ and just signaled for the fight to continue. Bradley kept landing his power shots but Diego Chaves took them well and kept throwing combinations — most of which did not connect. The following two rounds saw much of the same, Timothy Bradley showing a mix of his offensive abilities and defensive skills, largely outclassing his opponent.
In the sixth round, ‘Desert Storm’ altered his strategy and began to take a more boxing oriented approach. When the two fighters were at range, the speed edge was on Timothy Bradley’s side and although Chaves is known for being a quick fighter, he seemed to be just a notch below Bradley. The swelling on Tim’s left cheek was no much more noticeable and it appeared to be impairing his vision slightly at this stage of the fight.
Rounds seven through nine went at a slower pace, Bradley no longer attacking with the same viciousness and Chaves losing a bit of snap on his punches. Nevertheless, it was Bradley who was outmaneuvering Chaves and landing the more effective blows. Rounds ten and eleven were even slower and it appeared ‘Desert Storm’ was concerned about the state of his left cheekbone and chose to use his footwork to move around and not engage as much as he did in the early rounds. You could arguably give Diego Chaves those two rounds for being the more active of the two.
Going down the stretch into the final round, the feeling was that Bradley was comfortably ahead, having securely won at least nine of the first eleven rounds. The former champ stuck to his boxing in the twelfth and was effective in doing so, doing more than enough to seal the round in his favor. After the bell ended, we truly got to see the severity of the injuries Tim Bradley sustained early in the rounds by the headbutts. Bradley himself indicated that he had a fractured cheek. The scorecards then came in, 115-113 for Bradley, 116-112 in favor of Chaves and 114-144, declaring the match a split draw.
With the result being official and a draw now being on Timothy Bradley’s record, one has to wonder where this decision ranks among bad calls by judges. The most recent and comparable decision in recent years would have to be the Bradley vs. Pacquiao bout from June of 2012, where Bradley was surprisingly awarded a split decision victory in a fight that 90% of the media polled saw it the other way. Bradley controlled the first 5 rounds his fight with Chaves and the only change in the fight was a choice to use more boxing and movement instead of staying in the pocket. Much like the Bradley-Pacquiao fight, Chaves did do a little better later in the fight, but this was mainly due to Bradley’s change in strategy and it still appeared that Bradley won many of the later rounds.
While Bradley was not given a loss, it is still a blemish and could potentially effect him having a big fight in his next match. Bob Arum suggested that maybe there would be a rematch because of the decision, but with the lack of title involved in the fight and the fact that Bradley did not take a loss, there seems to be no point in revisiting the fight. Bradley in most peoples eyes was the clear winner, and hopefully he can still move to bigger and better things. A potential move up to 154lbs was discussed before the fight, but after Bradley again showed a lack of power at the weight class, his best move appears to be staying at the weight and maybe persuing a fight with the new IBF welterweight champion, Kell Brook. Even with a draw this past Saturday night, Timothy Bradley proved once again he is a tough and skilled fighter, one that still has a lot of options in the welterweight division.