Last Saturday Timothy Bradley and Brandon Rios engaged in a bout that can be seen as a tale of two roads. One fighter will continue his career while the other will hang up the gloves.
This was Bradley’s first fight under trainer Teddy Atlas after departing with Joel Diaz, who had trained Bradley for the majority of his career. Atlas is known for his intense psychological talks in-between rounds to his fighters.
The intensity seems to fit Bradley well as he stuck to the gameplan throughout the fight, which was to attack Rios using angles and to never be in a position to receive any return fire from Rios. Even when they fought in close quarters, where Rios is most at home, Bradley proved more effective by landing body shots and smothering Rios so that he was unable to land any effective punches.
The only round where Bradley didn’t stick to the gameplan was the 2nd round as he mostly fought in close quarters. However, as mentioned above he still was effective and rendered the slow, plodding Rios unable to do anything effective offensively.
Rios had difficulty making the welterweight limit and it showed. He didn’t look in shape and although he’s never been known for his speed, he looked like he was moving underwater at times. Bradley continued to overwhelm Rios with his handspeed and more effective combination punching.
Bradley stepped it up in the 9th round by pounding Rios’ body until Rios took a knee for only the second knockdown of his career. He rose before the referee could finish the count, but after Bradley continued to attack Rios he went down for the second time, prompting the referee to stop the fight. It’s the only time Rios has ever been stopped and Bradley’s first knockout win since 2011.
With this win, Bradley turns in his most impressive performance since the Juan Manuel Marquez bout in 2013. After that, he’s won some fights but has had to survive scary moments such as the last round of his fight with Jessie Vargas. If this fight is a precursor to how the Atlas-Bradley partnership will play out, the rest of the welterweight division will have to take note.
Rios immediately announced his retirement after the fight, saying his body just can’t do what he wants to do anymore. Although this may seem a bit early given he’s only 29 years old, he’s been in many wars with the likes of Mike Alvarado, John Murray, and others. Plus, he hasn’t exactly taken care of his body in between fights. Some reports had Rios ballooning as high as 175 Ibs. even before this fight. I certainly don’t want to see the version of Rios we saw step into the ring on Saturday come back.
For the sake of his health, let’s hope he stays retired.