By Gary Mushrow [@gary9690]
Timothy Bradley battered one-time titlist Brandon Rios into ninth round submission last night. ‘Desert Storm’ ferociously attacked his opponent from the opening bell, drawing the first knockout loss of Rios’ career at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, live on HBO.
Much of the talk proceeding the fight was of Bradley’s new partnership with veteran coach Teddy Atlas. Dropping long-time trainer Joel Diaz earlier this year, many were anxious to see how Bradley would cope in new surroundings and with a new voice in his corner in between rounds.
The answer delivered was decisive. Bradley exhibited a stiff left jab from the outset of the contest, utilizing superb lateral movement, consistently keeping his opponent on the turn.
Rios needed time to set his feet before throwing punches, looking slow and labored throughout. The need to cut 40-50lbs in camp before the fight no doubt hindered his abilities to give Bradley any sort of contest.
That being said, the subtleties of the ‘Atlas’ effect were clear for all to see. Round after round, Atlas implored his fighter to concentrate and delivered clear concise instructions in the one minute break. Bradley placed his head on Rios’ left shoulder up close, blocking the right hand and neutralizing the left hook of Rios up close, an old-school master stroke.
The champion whipped in a number of body shots in the early rounds; hating to coin an Atlas phrase but undoubtedly feeling the need to, Bradley was able to ‘put water in the basement’ early and that paid dividends as Rios slowed down heavily in the eighth and ninth rounds.
Stepping to the side and thundering home a left hook to the solar-plexus, Rios crumbled to the canvas and Bradley wheeled away to the neutral corner. Referee Tony Weeks gave Rios every chance to regain his status, but the Oxnard trained fighter looked done. Bradley swarmed his foe and Rios crumbled under the pressure of a six punch combination to head and body and the referee called off the contest at 2:49 of round nine.
This was Bradley’s first knock out victory in seven fights and four years; impressive and deservedly so. If Bradley is looking to extend his career and maximize his time in the sport, then switching to Teddy Atlas looks to have been a strong move.
Critics will point to Rios’ limitations, but this is the fighter who blasted out Mike Alvarado in three rounds eight months ago and went twelve grueling rounds with Manny Pacquiao two years ago. This is an impressive stoppage for Bradley, if Rios has one five-star draw then it’s definitely his chin.
Speaking after the fight Bradley said, “I want to thank Teddy and all of Team Bradley, we did it. He’s a new voice, a new leader and we’ve got some huge things to come. Brandon is a great fighter. It’s an unreal feeling, I actually caught him with a shot we’ve been working on for eight weeks in camp.”
An emotional Rios said, “This is the end. I’m finished with boxing. It was tough being out of camp for eight months. I struggled to get back in the gym and I’m done. I think that will be it for me. I just want to thank all of my family, friends and fans. I love you all, but I’m done.”
In the co-feature, two-time Olympic Gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko eased past under skilled Romulo Koasicha, stopping the Mexican over ten one-sided rounds to defend his WBO featherweight title.
Not many people will match the skills of Lomachenko at any weight; the Ukranian southpaw lit up his opponent to the head and body like a speed bag at times, with the former Lee Selby opponent showing incredible toughness to survive near to the championship rounds.
Huge, fast shots to the head and body drew gasps from the live crowd as Koasicha reddened up around the eyes and cheek bones. An accurate left hook to the body had the 24 year old down for the count in round ten as referee Robert Byrd called off the contest with 25 seconds remaining in the round.
Many wish to see a unification fight between Lomachenko and any of the other champions at 126lbs, but options appear limited with Selby, previously beaten Russell Jr. and Leo Santa Cruz all fighting under the rival Premier Boxing Champions banner.
On the under card, Ryota Murata and Miguel Marriaga picked up decision wins against Gunnar Jackson and Guillermo Avila, whilst Egidijus Kavaliauskas and Mike Reed picked up knock out victories.