Timothy Bradley and Jesse Vargas shook hands at ringside during the Raymundo Beltran-Takahiro Ao fight last Friday.  The next time they meet will be inside the ring on June 27th at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.

Moving Up in Weight

Vargas, the WBA World light welterweight champion, will be moving up in weight to take on Bradley, the former two-division champion in a 12-round welterweight bout that will be televised via HBO Championship Boxing.

The 25-year old Vargas is coming off two successful title defenses in 2014, outpointing the previously unbeaten Anton Novikov last August and then decisioning former lightweight world champion Antonio De Marco last November. Trained by Roy Jones Jr., Vargas is unbeaten in 26 fights with 9 knockouts.

Although he holds a 140 pound title and hasn’t relinquished that belt yet, Vargas said that he has been having trouble making 140 pounds and is decided on moving up in weight class because he said that he didn’t want to “go to the point where the last half-pound would hurt him during a fight”. Vargas has also fought in the past as a welterweight and even won the minor WBC Continental Americas Welterweight title in 2013.

Redemption Fight

On the other hand, Timothy Bradley is out for redemption because after beating Manny Pacquiao in 2012, surviving a Fight of the Year bout against Ruslan Provodnikov in March 2013 and then winning a close split decision over Juan Manuel Marquez in October of 2013, Bradley hasn’t won in his last two fights.

First, he lost via a clear unanimous decision against Manny Pacquiao during their rematch in April of 2014. Bradley then figured in a controversial split draw against Argentinian slugger Diego Gabriel Chaves last December.

Bradley was earlier rumored to lock horns with former welterweight champion Shawn Porter in a fight that would have determined Kell Brook’s next challenger. But because Brook is managed by Al Haymon whom Bradley’s promoter Top Rank Promotions has differences with, the 31-year old Palm Springs California native’s team decided to change course and fight Vargas instead.

A Dangerous Gamble

Fighting Vargas is a dangerous gamble for Timothy Bradley, who is certainly on a different level than his opponent. Bradley has fought Pacquiao twice, Marquez, Ruslan Provodnikov, Devon Alexander and Lamont Peterson in the past, while Vargas is an up and coming secondary belt holder. He may not be as recognizable as Bradley’s most recognizable foes, but that’s where he becomes dangerous.

Vargas is young, talented and undefeated. Although he may be going up in weight, he’s fought as a welterweight before. Indeed this was a bold move by Bradley, but it was unnecessary. A loss could put his career in dire straits, especially since he is 0-1-1 in his last two bouts. There is no doubt that Bradley is eons better in skills, but against a fighter who’s got nothing to lose and everything to gain,  he’s got to be in the best shape of his life on June 27th.

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