Bradley’s abdication leaves WBO with empty bag

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The World Boxing Organization (WBO) figures to be the biggest loser following the decision of American Timothy Brad¬ley, Jr. to relinquish the group’s welterweight title less than two months before his 12-round showdown with Filipino Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Bradley, 31-3, 13 knockouts, was initially recognized as interim WBO welterweight champion when he outpointed Jessie Vargas in June 2015. Five months later, November 2015, he officially claimed the vacant WBO throne by stopping Brandon ‘Bam Bam’ Rios in nine rounds. The impressive showing against Rios clinched for Bradley the mega fight with Pacquiao, but it came with a lot of complications.

As it turned out, Bradley had previously agreed to defend the WBO diadem against No.1 contender and Brooklyn native Sadam Ali (22-0, 13 knockouts) should he beat Rios. As he cannot possibly squeeze in a title defense against Ali before the Pacquiao bout, Bradley opted to relinquish the belt rather than give WBO officials the pleasure of yanking it off his waist.

Bradley’s decision reduced his showdown with Pacquiao into a non-title affair. Ali is now booked to meet Vargas on March 5 for the vacant WBO welterweight title. When you look at the way things turned out, Bradley actually made a sound decision from a financial and career standpoint. The Pacquiao fight offers more money in his pocket and a chance for Bradley to avenge the only defeat in his career. Had Bradley pushed through with the Ali fight, he would still be fighting for a title, albeit for a significantly lower purse and before a half-filled arena.

Owing to his No. 1 ranking and the stipulation Bradley agreed to, Ali is really due for a mandatory shot. But looking at the WBO ratings, it is hard to imagine Ali being ranked No. 1 and Pacquiao only No.2. Nicknamed ‘World Kid,’ the feather-fisted Ali compiled an unbeaten mark by feasting on untested foes, with the only possible exception of veteran Luis Abregu of Argentina. Ali-Bradley would have been a tough sell and whoever emerges the winner in Ali-Vargas would be placed under the shadow of the winner of Pacquiao-Bradley 3.

As far as Pacquiao is concerned, Bradley’s decision means that the “Pacman” will not get the chance to walk away from the ring a world champion. Pacquiao had earlier announced that the Bradley fight would be his last, although many are taking it with a grain of salt. Pacquiao has collected enough world titles though and the reduction of the fight into a non-title affair does not figure to make him miss sleep. Pacquiao will still receive his gargantuan purse with or without a title at stake.

As previously stated, the WBO is the biggest loser. The hefty sanctioning fee the organization collects for title fights conducted under its auspices just vanished into thin air. The reality is that Pacquiao and Bradley are huge names and do not need the WBO’s blessings to market their upcoming showdown. The WBO will have to settle for Ali-Vargas, a fight that nobody really cares about.

Oh, last we heard, the WBO is reportedly preparing a ‘special recognition’ for the Pacquiao-Bradley 3 winner. That the WBO still wants to be identified with the fight despite Bradley’s abdication only shows how the organization regrets ranking Ali ahead of Pacquiao. As they say, you reap what you sow.

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For comments, the writer can be reached at atty_eduardo@yahoo.com.

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