Timothy Bradley, the reigning WBO welterweight champion, will return to the ring on Saturday to defend his belt and face former lightweight champion Brandon Rios. The match will take place at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Bradley is a two-division world champion. He defeated boxing icon Manny Pacquiao in 2012 and has 32-1-1-1 standing with 12 wins by knockout. Rios has a slightly similar 32-2-1 but 23 of those wins are by knockout. In his 10 most recent fights, his record is 8-2.
The 32-year-old Bradley, who is said to be the early favorite, is reportedly out to prove that he is not "damaged goods." He was hurt in the last round during his previous match against Jessie Vargas back in June. Bradley is worried that his opponent's camp may think that he is not yet prepared to take strong punches. However, the champ claims that Rios' sole chance of succeeding is if he lands a "lucky punch."
On the other corner of the ring, trainer Robert Garcia is confident that the Texas-born boxer could knock out Bradley. In a statement, Garcia said he is not bothered that people are critical of Rios. "They said he is not disciplined and has no defense but when he knocked out Alvarado he still heard criticism for it and there were no good reviews for Brandon. Now if he beats Bradley, I hope they give him credit for it and they don't tell us that [Rios won] because [Bradley] was finished. I'm hoping for a spectacular knockout victory," Rios' trainer explained.
Meanwhile, the WBO decided to release a resolution on the issue surrounding the upcoming championship one day before it begins. The organization has sanctioned the fight as a defense of Bradley's welterweight title. According to the resolution, which is obtained by Boxing Scene, the winner of this Saturday's fight will need to face mandatory challenger Sadam Ali.
WBO has detailed that the victor of the Bradley-Rios fight should reach a agreement for a mandatory defense versus Ali within 10 days and the actual fight must happen within 90 days. If an agreement is not reached, either player may request a purse bid any time. Furthermore, if the winner decides to scale up in weight, the organization will promptly vacate the title and Sadam Ali will then fight the "best classified contender" available, pursuant to WBO regulations.
Boxing fans at home can watch the much-awaited fight via pay-per-view subscription on HBO where it will begin at 9:30 p.m. ET. The Brandon-Rios match will only be aired on television via the said channel but it will also be live-streamed online on BoxNation.
The undercards to open the telecast will be world featherweight titleholder Vasyl Lomachenko from Ukraine who will face challenger Romulo Koasicha from Mexico in a 12-round, 126-pound clash.