By Matt Bevan (@MBevs68)
Timothy Bradley retained his WBO welterweight world title by stopping Brandon Rios in the 9th round at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, in his first fight under new trainer Teddy Atlas, to potentially set up a third clash with Manny Pacquiao next April.
Bradley was excellent and looked to be getting back to his best with this display, although he was definitely helped on his way by an equally as bad performance by Rios, who looked thankful when he was halted in the ninth.
Rios entered the ring at 170lbs, over the super middleweight limit, for a welterweight fight and to say he looked sluggish would be a compliment.
Simply put, he was truly awful and doesn’t belong up at world level anymore.
The same can’t be said for Bradley, who stopped an opponent for the first time since 2011, when he got the better of Joel Casamayor, and he looks to have been rejuvenated once again since he linked up with the legendary Atlas, after his win over Jessie Vargas earlier this year.
Bradley went out with bad intentions, ripping in body shots and working behind a solid jab against a flat footed opponent to take the first. The second continued in much the same vein, as Bradley caught Rios at will.
‘Desert Storm’ continued to outbox “Bam Bam” with consummate ease in the third, putting combinations together and using his superior speed to his advantage. Rios caught him a couple of times, but already the successes were becoming more fleeting.
Bradley once again got behind the jab in the fourth, as Rios was slowing already, only adding to the huge target he presented for Bradley.
The 32-year-old champion, from Palm Springs, tested out Rios’ granite chin in the fifth with two big right hands that staggered him briefly, but the Oxnard-based challenger stayed upright.
Bradley was dominant and way on top as they entered the sixth, crashing in more body shots to the fleshy Rios, who slowed down even more, due to accumulation of punches from Bradley, who was finding it all too easy at this point.
It had been an excellent performance from Bradley and by now Rios was offering absolutely nothing. Even his corner seemed to have given up on him by the end of the seventh and, with no knockout in sight, who could blame them?
The 29-year-old appeared to have given up as they came out for the eighth and Bradley only had to throw the odd shot to win the round. Still, Robert Garcia didn’t pull Rios out, although he should, however Bradley spared them the decision in the next round.
Rios put a little bit of effort in to the early going, but Bradley came back with more venom, unloading a right hand that staggered Rios. But it was a body shot that did the damage, putting Rios down for a count. He got up on instinct, but Bradley finished the job off with another barrage, which Rios had no answer for.
Bradley improves his record to 33(13)-1-1 and will once again find himself in the frame for some big fights, possibly a third Pacquiao tilt. As for Rios, who drops to 33(23)-3-1 and should be embarrassed by that performance, he has shown the third win over Mike Alvarado perhaps flattered him and shouldn’t be anywhere near world level.
It seems his lifestyle has finally caught up with him, while the model professional in Bradley could once again begin an assault that could put him at the top of the welterweight tree.by