Current WBO welter champ Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley, 32-1-1, 12 KO, and former titlist Brandon Rios, 33-2-1, 23 KO, will tee it up Saturday, November 7, at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas in what is being marketed as something of a war.
Unfortunately, this may well turn out to be a track meet by Bradley who continues to suffer from serious blows to his noggin that seem to have diminished his former capacity to fight at the highest level. In his last outing, the light hitting prospect Jessie Vargas had enough in him to knockout Bradley had they been officiated in a fair fight. Unfortunately, California has it’s own pitiful referees to match Vegas, so after a big punch slumped Bradley badly to the ropes with just enough time to finish him off as Vargas flurried furiously in the waning seconds of the fight, referee Pat Russell waived off the fight to stop the punishment, a clear TKO victory for Vargas.
But wait, wait, this is boxing we’re talkin’ about. Boxing reserves the right to reverse any decision in a moments notice regardless of merit with no deference to the existing rules or to the resulting controversy.
The ridiculous Russell seemingly heard ding-dongs chiming in his noggin, claiming to have heard the final bell, which is quite loud and distinctive so as to be heard over the din of sound created by the crowd suddenly lurched to their feet by the impending upset after what had been a sure lopsided decision for Bradley. Russell’s TKO verdict was promptly overruled by, ahem, himself, and, whew, close call that one. The easily bruised, sacrificial lamb in waiting, Bradley, was successfully delivered up somewhat lopsided to this date for yet another banana skin slip’em up.
Sadly, Top Rank has been propping up Bradley past his sell date after Manny beat his legs and confidence out of him in their first fight only to lose the Robbery of the Century in Vegas. Bradley wasn’t a draw back then, but the controversy made him more marketable to other fighters and fans who saw the damaged goods as I saw him. It didn’t help Bradley that the public turned on him like rabid dogs complete with death threats and a dearth of hate mail that put him in a depressive funk as anyone would suffer, he has my sympathies in that regard, after all, the decision was rendered by the typical suspect boxing judges, not by him in an otherwise courageous fight just to survive on two injured legs.
Ruslan Provodnikov was next in line after Pacquiao to get robbed, yupsir, by the same goof Pat Russell who can’t ever seem to figure what the hell is ever going on the ring. Ruslan caught Bradley in the opening round with a shotgun blast that sent Bradley to his knees clutching at Ruslan in a futile effort to stay up. Incredibly, Russell ruled a slip, and no sooner had Bradley gotten up from his “slip” than he fell into the best drunken chicken break dance since Zab Judah got one punched by Kostya Tzyzu a several years back and went down again. That’d be two knockdowns by Ruslan with one punch if boxing ever kept score that way, but he never got credit for even the single knockdown for thanks to Russell’s boner that would’ve made Ruslan the victor, not Bradley.
Most reputable refs would have stopped the bout for a Ruslan KO win right then and there, but sadly reputable and referees and boxing seldom meet in this current boxing climate.
No siree, no commie Ruskie is gonna take down an American in Russell’s court of law, so then equally blind judges awarded the “close” bout to Bradley who mostly ran around to avoid getting creamed further until his legs finally gave out and he was caught again in the last round. In his next bout Bradley got the best of a very close exchange early on with the 40 year Juan Manuel Marquez, yet then chose to run for the rest of the incredibly boring, non-participatory bout by Bradley who used to relish the good fight, but no more. Marquez was disgusted at the tactics and the decision, but then again, why should Bradley take any unnecessary chances against this new BALCO trained monstrous version of Marquez?
I can sort of see his point of view for that, but then he lost the rematch to Pacquiao where he looked utterly clueless again, almost club fighter like, and then on to a draw against an awkwardly strong club fighter, Diego Gabriel Chaves. In spite of his stellar record on paper, he lost his Ring P4P ranking in their recent staff shakeup and has further dropped down to 15th in Boxrec. Bradley used to be the alpha dog in the ring, dictating the pace and the style, but no more. His destiny now seems hellbent to cultivating the beta side of him as his physical advantages over opponents slowly decline.
So here he is against Rios who is a big, strong, powerful, pressure fighter with reasonably quick feet when on pursuit. Bradley has to run to maybe survive since he can no longer handle this kind of punching power or pressure, but now he has to worry if his legs can carry him for all 12 rounds. I’d sure like to see a fair decision out of boxing once in a blue moon, but we might as well be baying at a lunar eclipse while praying for the winning lotto ticket. Rios has had some training issues of missing weight during his lower weight classes in the past that have made him a big target of critics, but since Robert Garcia has trained him, Rios has successfully moved up in weight and been drilled into better shape with better discipline and game plan.
Rios still has to make weight at 147, so can he do it first try? That may well prove to be the key in this matchup. Can Bradley survive the guaranteed onslaught? His new trainer, the loonytunes buffo Uncle Teddy, can he even make it out of training camp without blowing everyone’s head gasket? Bradley’s damaged legs aren’t saying much yet, but we’ll be finding out soon enough.