The fight was supposed to be an all-out brawl, possibly a candidate for Fight of the Year. But the HBO-televised main event in the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas on Saturday night was anything but.
Timothy Bradley made sure of that.
After lashing out at the critics following Friday’s weigh-ins where Brandon Rios missed weight by a few ounces, the Oxnard fighter promised fireworks. But as the fight against “Desert Storm” wore on, it was apparent Rios couldn’t deliver.
Rios allegedly weighed close to 200 pounds before his training camp, following nearly eight months of inactivity. After watching “Bam Bam” struggle to catch up with Bradley’s blistering hand speed, those rumors appear accurate.
Bradley, a former junior welterweight world champion, was sensational from the start and easily defended his WBO welterweight crown. He brawled with the larger man on the inside early and then outboxed Rios. The Palm Springs, California fighter routinely busted Rios to the head and body; all Rios could do was shake his head “no” and smile.
Rios tried to get things going in the latter stages of the fight, but with his gas tank slowly depleting, thanks to Bradley’s leads and counters, Bam Bam found himself sinking fast.
With Rios operating on fumes in the ninth, Bradley dug a few of his fists deep into Brandon’s intestines, forcing him to back off. Bradley quickly chased him down and continued to slam hooks into the challenger’s guts until Rios had no choice but to drop to his knees. When he barely beat referee Tony Weeks’ count, the end was near.
Bradley immediately bolted on the inside, gunning for the kill. Rios (33-3-1, 24 KOs) withered under the blitzkrieg and just as he was crumbling to his knees again, Weeks had seen enough and halted the mugging. The official time came at 2:49 of the ninth, allowing Bradley (33-1-1, 13 KOs) to not only score a rare stoppage, but he also retained his title.
For Bradley, it was the first time he worked with legendary trainer Teddy Atlas. It was a splendid start. Desert Storm told HBO’s Max Kellerman that there’s no telling how good he can be with a few years under Teddy’s tutelage.
As for Rios, things clearly weren’t in his favor and the embattled warrior begrudgingly announced through gritted teeth that he’s likely going to retire.
"My body isn't the same anymore,” Rios told Kellerman. “I've been in a lot of wars. It might be time to hang it up. After eight months layoff, it’s f---ing bull----. My body did not react. I think I'll just hang up the gloves and call it a night.”
In the opening night of the telecast, two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko was brilliant once again, outboxing Romulo Koasicha, before stopping him with body shots in the 10th. Lomachenko (5-1, 3 KOs) controlled the action throughout with arguably the smoothest boxing in the sport. When he turned up the heat, the Mexican withered. A pair of left hooks downstairs dropped Koasicha (25-5, 15 KOs) to his knees, where he was counted out by Robert Byrd at the 2:35 mark.
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