Bradley vs Rios: Fireworks Alert

When the government issues an alert to the public regarding inclement weather, that’s all it is: an alert, not a guarantee. Similarly, we cannot know for certain that when Brandon Rios and Timothy Bradley face off on November 7 in Las Vegas that the result will be frenetic fisticuffs and plenty of toe-to-toe action but, given the tendencies of both men, we’d say an ‘alert’ is in order. This has the potential to be a war and Fight of the Year contender.

It’s a somewhat unlikely match-up. Rios appeared to be pretty much finished as a top contender and a major attraction after back-to-back losses to Mike Alvarado and Manny Pacquiao. His defeat to the Pacman was so one-sided that at times it was almost painful to watch and an unsatisfying disqualification win over Diego Chaves did nothing to restore his reputation.

Rios batters Alvarado.
Rios batters Alvarado in their rubber match.

But then followed a third fight with Alvarado and it looked like a new Rios was in the ring. The boxer who could never make weight and who sported rolls of dough around his mid-section in his fight with Pacquiao, appeared to have re-dedicated himself to proper training. He appeared sharp and focused against an Alvarado who was anything but, and following an impressive stoppage win Rios fans could hold their heads high again.

Meanwhile, Timothy Bradley has cemented a reputation as being an elite level boxer who just can’t catch a break. The simple fact is, few active boxers have more wins than “Desert Storm” over elite level opponents. And that statement stands even if you do discount his absurd decision victory over Manny Pacquiao, easily one of the worst robberies in recent boxing history. And yet, partly because of that undeserved win, Bradley has to struggle for recognition and big paydays, despite having defeated Devon Alexander, Lamont Peterson, Joel Casamayor and Juan Manuel Marquez.

Will Bradley go to war with Rios the way he did with Ruslan?
Will Bradley go to war with Rios the way he did with Ruslan?

Of course, it doesn’t help that since dropping a decision to Pacquiao in their April, 2014 rematch, he has a draw against the same Diego Chaves who Rios struggled with (though most felt Bradley clearly deserved the win) and his subsequent victory over Jessie Vargas was marred by some bad officiating in the bout’s closing seconds. Is Bradley on the down side, maybe past his peak? Can he get up for Rios and give an impressive performance?

The most intriguing sub-plot of the match may be Bradley’s recent decision to fire long-time trainer Joel Diaz and sign-up with Teddy Atlas, the Howard Beale of boxing. A Bradley-Atlas tandem could be one of the more entertaining pairings in boxing and their corner will definitely be watched with more attention than usual.

What Bradley and Rios have in common, beyond common opponents, is a reputation for excitement. The first two Rios vs Alvarado battles were strong contenders for Fight of the Year in both 2012 and 2013, while Bradley’s 12 round struggle against Ruslan Provodnikov was most people’s Fight of the Year for that latter year. Both guys come to fight, and while Bradley has strong boxing skills, he loves a good brawl almost as much as Rios. If you doubt that statement, just watch his slugfest with Provodnikov.

999Tim-vs-brandon

So boxing fans should celebrate: here’s a solid match-up that should bring some serious action, and man, could we use it after the dud that was #MayPac and the recent Mayweather vs Berto sleep inducer. Bradley vs Rios for the WBO welterweight title. And if the staredown in the video below is anything to go by, yeah, we got a fireworks alert.

Brandon Rios: “I am excited because I know Bradley is going to come out and fight. He can train to box but he is a warrior and is going to come out and fight. I felt like this in the third Alvarado fight with my back against the wall because it’s another opportunity for bigger things.”

Timothy Bradley: “Rios is tough, but every fight is tough. I don’t consider this fight tougher than Jessie [Vargas]. I just think it’s the same, it’s the top level. Same type of risk, but just different styles. Brandon Rios is going to be another great name on my record, another great fighter that Timothy Bradley has beat.”         — Robert Portis

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