So far, so good for the partnership between Timothy Bradley and new trainer Teddy Atlas. Bradley dominated Brandon Rios tonight and stopped the rugged brawler in the ninth round, hammering to the body to close the show, scoring a knockdown and then a referee stoppage after the fight resumed, with Rios unable to even get his arms up to protect himself anymore.
Rios (33-3-1, 24 KO) looked in poor physical shape yesterday on the scales, initially missing weight by 0.2 pounds. It wasn't a big amount of weight to miss by, but his face in particular showed the stress of trying to make 147, as he was drawn and very thin, similar to how he looked when he missed weight against Richar Abril and John Murray a few years back while competing as a lightweight.
Rios seems to have lost the fight in training camp, and surprisingly told HBO's Max Kellerman after the fight that he was retiring from boxing.
"My body is not the same no more. I've been in a lot of wars. I think it's time to hang it up. I'm done," he said. "I think that's it. It was a great run, it is what it is. I'd like to thank the fans for coming out and supporting this. I know I didn't give a great show, but fuck it, it is what it is.
"I don't wanna hurt my body, I don't wanna hurt my family, I don't wanna hurt my close friends around me, so I think it's time to hang up the gloves."
Rios continued, "After eight months layoff, it's fuckin' bullshit. Eight months without training, and then I come back to the gym, and it's fucked. When I tried to get back in, my body wasn't reacting the same. So I think it's done for me."
Bradley (33-1-1, 13 KO) fought very well overall under new guidance from Atlas, boxing more but not totally losing the aggression and solid in-fighting that has at times been his Achilles heel. By not staying in the pocket as long as he used to, Bradley was able to do effective work at close range, and get out before much came back from his opponent. Rios, though, didn't seem to have much to offer, anyway. He was like a statue in round one, and while he did pick it up a bit in the second round, that slight uptick in activity and pressure was ultimately about all he had in him tonight. Bradley made a minor adjustment, and was able to punish Rios the rest of the fight.
"I saw I hurt him early to the body," Bradley told Kellerman. "I kinda wanted to get him not thinking about it for a while, then I went back downstairs. I caught him when I side-stepped him, I hit him right in the solar plexus."
As for his partnership with Atlas, Bradley was pleased with the results, as he should have been. "We had seven weeks. I wonder what a year would do. I wonder what two years would bring. I got a knockout win against a great champion and a great opponent in Brandon Rios. I don't know, the sky's the limit from here, I believe. Teddy's already said he's coming back for my next training camp, so I'm excited for that."
Bradley is thought to be in the running for an April fight against Manny Pacquiao, who is reportedly going to retire after one more bout (though Freddie Roach isn't buying it). And speaking of not buying retirements, keep in mind that Rios just spoke very emotionally in the moment, and that boxing retirements that are planned don't always stick, let alone announcements like this one. We could well see Rios back in the ring before he's even inactive as long as he was between fights this time, but for the moment, he says he's done.