Referee Pat Russell stopped tonight’s Timothy Bradley-Jessie Vargas title fight before the final bell, believing the bout to be over and stripping Vargas of his chance to knock out a clearly dazed Bradley in the last seconds.

Russell pulled Vargas off Bradley with ten seconds remaining in the fight, just as Vargas was ready to strike a knockout blow; Vargas, believing the fight had been stopped in his favor, began a lengthy celebration. But fight officials determined the bout would go to the scorecards, which unanimously favored Timothy Bradley.

Bradley takes Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s vacated WBO welterweight title. Vargas asked for a deserved rematch; Bradley urged him to “talk to my people” as he walked away with the belt. It was Vargas’s first loss as a professional boxer.

[HBO]

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