Sharkie’s Machine: Tim Bradley Takes Junior Witter’s WBC Title
By Frank Gonzalez Jr. exclusive to Doghouse Boxing (May 11, 2008) Photo © Tom Casino/SHOWTIME  
Saturday at the Trent FM Arena in Nottingham England, American Super Lightweight and sudden WBC #1 top contender, Timothy Bradley (22-0, 11 KO’s) challenged 34 year old WBC champ, Junior Witter (36-2, 2- 21 KO’s) for the title. An exciting fight it wasn’t, but an upset it was. If you like ‘boxers’ this was your kind of fight. A slugfest, this was not. Very technical, at times boring, it was a long fight better watched with coffee than beer.

The Fight

Witter showed ambidextrous boxing skills, switching from southpaw to conventional on the drop of a dime. He landed a couple of shots in the first round, including a left to the chin of Bradley that scored but had no debilitating effects. Witter fought tall and Bradley looked small. As Bradley moved in, Witter looked to counter. Witter won the first round on my card.

From the second round on, I couldn’t find another round to give Witter, who fought too conservatively, rarely throwing punches and spending most of his energy posing, looking to slip punches and clinching when Bradley moved in too close. In the second round, Bradley was able to land his right hand in spots, and more frequently as the fight bore on.

The third round featured a lot of nothing, as they danced around the ring, rarely exchanging. Bradley was always the aggressor, Witter always moving backwards and sideways. Witter landed a left to the face, Bradley landed a right to the face, then another.

The fourth round was a sloppy affair, with Bradley chasing Witter and Witter running and slipping. Bradley landed a left upstairs and was warned for a head butt by the referee, Massimo Barroveccio, who did a great job of being practically invisible in this fight, while still keeping things clean. It couldn’t have been too tough to ref this fight, since only one guy was doing all the fighting and that guy was Bradley, who chased Witter around with punches that too often missed. Witter actually rallied up late and threw a flurry of shots—all that missed.

Bradley was starting to catch Witter more in the fifth round, mostly with the right hand. Witter landed one jab as he demonstrated, ‘the art of fighting without fighting.’ He basically ran and clinched and posed. I don’t see how Showtime’s Steve Farhood (who’s an excellent commentator) gave Witter the first four rounds. Witter showed a slick defense but wasn’t landing much of anything and certainly wasn’t controlling the tempo. Defense don’t win championships in boxing, this is not American Football.

Witter pawed with his jab, Bradley timed his punches and was able to land on occasion, usually the right, at times to the body and at times upstairs.

The sixth round was the most exciting of the lot as Bradley built on his momentum from the fifth and saw Witter slip inside of a clinch he initiated. It was rightly ruled a slip. Bradley was starting to land his right regularly until near the end of the round, Bradley, sensing Witter’s lack of conviction, pressured him into the ropes and landed an overhand right that caught Witter on the temple area and dropped him to the canvas. Finally, some action! I took a sip of my coffee.

Bradley went for the finish in the seventh, but Witter clinched often and other times ran. Though known to have sneaky power, Witter showed no such thing in this fight. Witter did land a nice left late in the round, definitely his best shot of the entire fight and his only clean connect in the seventh round.

I thought Bradley won all the rounds except for the first and all I kept hearing the commentators saying was how close the fight was. How? I wasn’t aware that one can hallucinate from drinking coffee.

When one guy does the punching and the other guy does the running, it seems pretty clear who’s winning the fight, especially after the knockdown in the sixth. But I suppose the commentators have to create some kind of justification for whatever controversial scores the official Judges may turn in at the end.

And THIS is the guy Ricky Hatton does not want to fight? Life is full of mysteries.

After 12 rounds were over, Witter raised his arms in victory. Maybe it’s a habit? One of the three Judges, Franco Criminale of Italy saw Witter winning by a score of 115-113. Criminale had to be drinking something stronger than coffee during to arrive at that score. I’d love to know what his criteria for scoring a fight is based on. The other two Judges had it 114-113 and 115-113 for Bradley. How they had it that close is amazing. How did Witter win more than one round? Can anyone tell me which round, other than the first, where Witter landed more punches? In most of the rounds he was punching in the single digits. Bradley was the busier fighter all night and he landed punches in every round. In the seventh, Witter landed maybe two punches!

I had it a whopping 119-108, with Witter winning the first round and then losing all the rest, including the 10-8 round when he got floored in the sixth. Bradley didn’t dominate him so much as he was the only guy pressing the action and making it a fight.

* *

Timothy Bradley is a good kid and a decent fighter with a lot of potential but there is some question about how Bradley was deemed the #1 contender for the WBC. How did he mysteriously bypass so many other top dogs in the division, like Malignaggi, Torres, Urango, Holt, Ngoudjo, N’dou, Bailey and even Vivian Harris? Who has Bradley fought that justifies his #1 ranking in the WBC? Miguel Vasquez? Donald Camarena?

Actually, Witter was Bradley’s first ‘A class’ opponent. So, I don’t understand the mechanisms of the WBC or any of the sanctioning bodies and their mysterious rankings system that’s based on who knows what. What is the point of working your way up the ladder of contention to see some young kid who hasn’t fought anyone significant or anyone in the top ten and be propelled into the #1 ranking spot?

Congratulations to Timothy Bradley, who will return to Palm Springs California the New WBC Super Lightweight Titlist. I wish him well.

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