Bradley decision unfair but inevitable

Kevin Iole
Yahoo! Sports

If the California State Athletic Commission does the right thing, it will overrule referee David Mendoza's verdict that gave Timothy Bradley a third-round technical knockout over Nate Campbell at the Agua Caliente Resort in Rancho Mirage, Calif., on Saturday and instead will declare the bout a no-decision.

Campbell clearly had a massive gash opened on his left eyebrow from an inadvertent clash of heads.

Campbell doesn't deserve the loss on his record.

Whatever the commission decides, though, won't really matter. Because anyone watching the World Boxing Organization super lightweight title bout knows who the better man was in the nationally televised bout.

Those who saw the bout know who the faster man was.

Those who saw the bout know who the better defensive fighter was.

Those who saw the bout know who was dictating the pace and controlling the action.

Those who saw the bout know who was landing the sharper, harder punches.

It's about time that Bradley gets serious consideration for a spot in the top 10 pound-for-pound rankings. He clearly was outclassing a high-caliber opponent.

The controversy, of course, will obscure much of that, as will Mendoza's confusing and somewhat contradictory comments.

Bradley was getting the best of nearly every exchange in the fight and had backed the 37-year-old former lightweight champion to the ropes when his head moved down and Campbell's head came up. The result was a gaping wound that traversed the length of Campbell's left eyebrow.

Asked directly by Showtime's Jim Gray if he saw the head butt and whether it was the cause of the bleeding, Mendoza said, "Yes, that's what happened."

It was obvious. And it's clear in the rulebook. When a fight is stopped as a result of a cut caused by an accidental head butt and it hasn't gone four full rounds, it is to be declared a no-decision.

Campbell got a raw deal, though it likely saved him a frightful beating for another nine rounds.

Mendoza's decision was baffling. He admitted he saw the butt. He admitted the blood began to flow almost instantly afterward. Yet, he ruled it was from a punch. Bradley threw two punches right after the clash of heads, but neither seemed to land flush and certainly neither of them was hard enough to tear apart Campbell's skin.

"They both were head butting each other as they were fighting and the last head butt, when they touch heads, then he pulled back to throw a punch [and] after he threw the punch, the blood started coming out," Mendoza said.

Watching a replay, Mendoza said he sees the butt.

"Right there," he said, indicating the butt.

That in and of itself was enough to rule it an inadvertent butt. Period. It's ludicrous to think that anything that happened in the next two seconds had an impact like the vicious clash of heads.

"You see, the blood hasn't come out," Mendoza said, watching a replay as Bradley's head still is in the process of pulling back from Campbell's. "You see, then he hits him again right there. That's when I was watching him, and I saw the blood come out. I have to go by the last thing I saw, which was a punch."

The controversy made for good television, but it really wasn't the story of the fight. The story of the fight was that Bradley bullied the bully. He stared down one of the game's toughest men, an old-school type who has won many fights in the past with his will and determination alone.

On Saturday, though, Campbell ran into a guy with a will and determination equal to his own and skills that, at this stage in their careers, are far superior.

Campbell usually is a brilliant inside fighter, but Bradley negated that expertly. He went hard after Campbell's body with several shots and then would slip outside and keep a jab in Campbell's face.

Bradley's hands always were moving, and he fought with the idea of wearing down the man who is 12 years his senior. It was working by the midway point of the third round; one can only imagine what Campbell may have looked like had the bout reached the ninth.

"It didn't even matter," Bradley said of the head butt and the ensuing controversy. "He was going to get beat anyway. It didn't matter. It did not even matter. As the rounds kept going on and on and on, he was getting older and older and older.

"I understand where [Campbell is] coming from. I understand what he's talking about. But it's not my job [to worry whether or not it was a head butt]. That's the ref's job. My job is to fight."

Bradley was fighting brilliantly and clearly looks like the second-best fighter in the 140-pound weight class. The best, of course, is pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao, though anyone who saw Bradley perform on Saturday who doesn't believe a Pacquiao-Bradley fight wouldn't have Fight of the Year potential simply doesn't know or like boxing.

Bradley, though, doesn't have the name recognition or the drawing power to get into the mix for fights against men like Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.

And though his promoter, Gary Shaw, wasn't willing to commit to giving Campbell a rematch when a sense of fairness screams that it's the right thing to do, Bradley said he had no issue with it.

He knows, and anyone who saw the bout Saturday knows, what would happen in a rematch.

"Why not [give Campbell a rematch]?" Bradley said.

"Why not? It's going to be the same outcome. That's easy work. Too slow. Too heavy-footed. I'll move all day on him."

Campbell stomped out of the ring, cursing angrily and demanding a no-decision as well as a rematch, both of which he deserves.

But he may get another thing, and surely he won't want that.

If they fight again, Bradley is going to put a major-league whipping on him.

Bradley is the real deal and has become one of the elite fighters in the world.