RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- Timothy Bradley defended his WBO 140-pound title Saturday night by battering Nate Campbell, whose eye injury forced the fight to be stopped after three rounds.
Bradley (25-0, 12 KOs) rode the energy of his hometown crowd in a dynamic performance, although television replays appeared to show an accidental head-butt opening a cut over Campbell's left eye early in the third.
Campbell's eye also was injured in the round, which he barely survived on his feet.
"I was just doing my job," Bradley said. "[The injury] didn't matter anyway. He was getting older and older through the fight. I was beating him easily."
After the bout was stopped, the 37-year-old Campbell (33-6-1) vehemently argued his cut was caused by Bradley's head, which would have made the bout a no-contest. Referee David Mendoza disagreed and awarded a TKO to Bradley, who made his first defense of the light welterweight belt he claimed from Kendall Holt in April.
"They were both butting each other all night," Mendoza said. "The last one was a head-butt, but the blood came after the punch, not from the head-butt. That's what I saw last: The punch, then the blood."
Campbell had fought just once since his stunning victory over Juan Diaz in Cancun in March 2008 to win three lightweight belts, notably losing one big payday when Joan Guzman couldn't make weight to face him. He taunted Bradley before the fight, but didn't appear to have the speed to keep up with Bradley's busy fists.
Campbell still insisted he should get another shot, which Bradley and promoter Gary Shaw said they wouldn't mind.
"A cut like this comes from a head-butt," Campbell said. "That was no punch. The California commission is wrong. This is just wrong. You can see it on television. How can they deem it a TKO? All they have to do is watch and see that it was a head-butt. This is not right."
Aside from the debatable ending, the evening went almost perfectly for Bradley, who gave up his WBC 140-pound belt so he could take on Campbell. He declined to fight mandatory WBC challenger Devon Alexander, who won that vacant belt by beating Junior Witter earlier at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort.
The casino is just outside of Palm Springs, and Bradley's home fans turned out in emphatic support of the 25-year-old champion, filling the arena with raucous chants and cheers. Bradley gave an impressive effort, peppering Campbell with dozens of punches while chasing the older challenger around the ring.
The 22-year-old Alexander won his first world title when Witter quit before the ninth round, citing a hand injury. Alexander (19-0, 12 KOs) largely dominated the bout, and wept when he raised the belt.