Bradley vs Rios

Photo by Top Rank

Tim Bradley vs Bam Bam Rios

By David A. Avila

Las Vegas may be the battleground for Tim “Desert Storm” Bradley and Brandon “Bam, Bam” Rios but in actuality this fight has Riverside County war written all over it.

WBO welterweight titlist Bradley (32-1-1, 12 Kos) faces former lightweight champion Rios (33-2-1, 24 Kos) on Saturday Nov. 7, at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. Both train within the county lines and have a lot at stake.

A fight between Bradley and Rios had been discussed for years. It had always been an intriguing idea that promotion company Top Rank had in its back pocket. Both prizefighters are based in Southern California and have solid fan bases.

Earlier this year Rios’s trainer Robert Garcia opened a boxing training camp in the city of Riverside and brought the wise-cracking but come-hard fighter with him. That tightened up the screws and now that both are ensconced in the welterweight division, it made perfect sense to put them against each other.

“I’m happy about this fight or any fight,” says Rios, whose last fight was a brutal knockout of Mike Alvarado last January. “It was a long time since I fought.”

Bradley, 32, defeated Jessie Vargas at the StubHub Center in June, a bout that ended in controversy when he was wobbled at the end of the final round. The referee erroneously ended the fight prematurely with seconds remaining. Some felt it allowed Bradley to escape a knockout loss.

The Palm Springs fighter decided to switch trainers and enlisted Teddy Atlas to his side. Known mostly for his TV analysis for ESPN, the 59-year-old boxing coach formerly worked with Mike Tyson, Alexander Povetkin and Michael Moorer; all heavyweight world champions.

Atlas was a protégé of famed late trainer Cus D’Amato and has always been a taskmaster who demands obedience. He’s also a perfectionist.

Bradley has always shown extreme athleticism in the boxing ring. Few can match his speed or agility. He can fire combinations with blinding speed and escape before an opponent can retaliate. But in his career the Palm Springs prizefighter has a dangerous penchant for battling toe-to-toe. He’s a warrior at heart.

“Teddy has me focused and ready,” says Bradley. “It’s a battle of the minds. This is going to be a mental war.”

The street-wise Rios doesn’t worry about anything but going forward. Strength has always been his main asset and few can withstand trading punches with him for long. His three wars with the hard-punching Alvarado proved that.

Now Rios faces the speedy Bradley and the winner emerges with a boosted profile in the talented welterweight division.

“Brandon Rios is one of those rare guys that just loves to fight,” said Cameron Dunkin who manages Rios and formerly managed Bradley. “He would fight for free.”

Rios, 29, has only two losses in his career: once to Manny Pacquiao and another to Alvarado whom he defeated twice. Bradley beat and lost to Pacquiao. Rios expects a difficult match and but feels ready for any direction the fight goes.

“I’m ready to go back to the next level I’m ready to go back to the top,” said Rios. “He’s shown that he’s a warrior and I have to give my best. I’m going to fight my fight.”

HBO will televise the welterweight collision.