Bradley stays unbeaten with decision over Abregu
Updated: July 17, 2010, 23:39
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RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif.(AP) Timothy Bradley kept his unbeaten record intact with a bruising unanimous decision over Argentina's Luis Carlos Abregu on Saturday night.
Bradley (26-0, 11 KOs) was tested and tagged throughout his move up to welterweight, but the WBO 140-pound champion did enough work to win comfortably on all three scorecards against the previously unbeaten Abregu at the Agua Caliente Casino in Bradley's native Palm Springs area.
"I beat one of the best in the welterweight division,'' Bradley said after his HBO debut. "He tried to take me out after the first round. I came back to my corner, and they told me to just calm down. He's dangerous. He hits a bit harder than I'm used to at 140.''
After fighting through an early cut and holding on when Abregu surged in the middle rounds, Bradley immediately called out Manny Pacquiao and two-belt 140-pound champion Devon Alexander.
Bradley's perfect six-year career has included titles and money, but relatively little fame - and he took advantage of his national platform to challenge the elite fighters who won't return his calls.
"I'm an old-school fighter,'' Bradley said. "I'll fight anybody.''
Bradley connected with 30 percent of his 531 punches, while just 16 percent of Abregu's shots landed. Bradley also outjabbed Abregu and connected with twice as many power shots.
Bradley won on the judges' cards by scores of 118-110, 117-111 and 116-112. The Associated Press also favored Bradley, 116-112.
Abregu lived up to his reputation as a strong, hard-punching knockout artist, but fought with more discipline than he had exhibited in most of his big fights. Patience was a necessity against Bradley, a tremendous technical boxer who wouldn't have fared well in a slugfest with his bigger opponent.
"He was every bit as tough as I thought he would be, but I didn't think that the unanimous decision was fair,'' Abregu said. "At a minimum, I thought it should have been a draw. I would immediately like a rematch. I hurt my right hand in training, and tonight only worsened it.''
Bradley was back in the ring for the first time since last December, when he outpointed previously unbeaten Lamont Peterson. Two potential fights with Marcos Maidana had to be scrapped while Maidana battled his management, and Bradley finally accepted a bout with Abregu, who didn't have Maidana's pedigree.
Bradley entered the arena to a rapper's serenade and chants of "Desert Storm,'' Bradley's nickname. The third straight sellout crowd to watch Bradley in Rancho Mirage left no doubt about its favorite, chanting his name repeatedly.
A head-butt from Abregu in the opening minutes cut Bradley over his right eye, sending blood dripping onto his Lakers-colored trunks. Abregu also appeared to get cut higher on his head in the exchange - and Bradley seriously hurt him with an unblocked right hand in the second round.
Bradley peppered Abregu with shots in the fifth round, but did the biggest damage with the back of his head, opening a nasty cut over Abregu's left eye in the seventh when he raised up from a crouched position and connected squarely with Abregu's face.
Abregu dropped to the canvas in pain, but kept fighting - and he caught a second wind while taking over the eighth round, landing several punishing shots that had Bradley scrambling.
Bradley wants to be in the discussion for a fight with Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather Jr. if boxing's two biggest fighters can't reach an agreement to fight each other. Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum dismissed Bradley as a potential opponent earlier Saturday, saying he isn't popular enough to sell tickets or pay-per-views - although neither was Joshua Clottey, Pacquiao's last opponent.
Bradley knows he can only reach his goals by fighting on bigger stages, and his next endeavor might be a four-man junior welterweight tournament of sorts with Maidana, Alexander and fellow titleholder Amir Khan, if their promoters can put it together.