On Tuesday, word came down from HBO that Timothy Bradley and Brandon Rios will hold a joint press conference on September 16, to officially announce that they are fighting on November 7 in Las Vegas. There is absolutely nothing not to like about this matchup. Bradley and Rios are both top 10 welterweights and Bradley has the WBO strap, so this fight is relevant at the top of the division that Floyd Mayweather will be retiring from soon.
Beyond that, it promises to be a terrific fight. Both of these guys are relentless, hard-nosed fighters who don’t have an ounce of quit in them. Each one has been involved in some of the best fights of the past few years. Both of Rios’ first two fights with Mike Alvarado in 2012 and 2013 were all-action shootouts, and the third fight, last January, could have been, if Rios hadn’t simply overwhelmed Alvarado. Bradley’s unanimous decision victory over Ruslan Provodnikov in March 2013 is the best fight of the past five years, in my opinion.
Bradley took tremendous punishment in that fight, and hasn’t appeared to be the same fighter since. His split decision over Juan Manuel Marquez in October 2013 was a very good performance (and not as close as the cards, if you ask me), but Marquez was a very good matchup for Bradley. In his April 2014 rematch with Manny Pacquiao, he actually seemed to run out of gas, something I would never have expected to see from Bradley. I though Bradley was robbed when he only got a draw against Diego Chaves last December, but the fact that he let a mauler like Chaves fight him on close enough terms for the judges to screw it up was a bit stunning.
Bradley rebounded to take the vacant WBO strap against Jessie Vargas last June. Bradley easily won that fight on the cards, but was rocked badly near the end of Round 12 and benefited when the referee accidentally stopped the fight 10 seconds too soon. Bradley was in the process of clinching, and is a monster who doesn’t get stopped easily. I am convinced he would have been able to survive to the bell either way. But it did raise more questions about where he is at this point in his career, after years of tough fights.
Honestly, the fact that Bradley might be a bit frayed makes this fight all the more compelling. Two years ago, I’d have given Rios little chance against Bradley. At this point, I’m still picking Bradley, but I’m a lot less convinced. Rios is a pit bull of a fighter and always comes extremely well prepared.
An already loaded fall boxing schedule just got even better.