HBO Boxing Preview: Timothy Bradley Jr. vs. Brandon Rios
By: Matthew N. Becher
This Saturday, November 7th, from the Thomas & Mack Center in downtown Las Vegas, Nevada, HBO Championship Boxing will headline a two fight boxing card, both with World title implications and what will jumpstart a very busy month of boxing for the month of November.
In the co-main event, Vasyl Lomachenko (4-1 2KO) will defend his WBO World featherweight title for the third time when he clashes with 24 year old Mexican, Romulo Koasicha (25-4 15KO).
Koasicha has been boxing professionally for 7 years, starting when he turned 17 years old. Koasicha is a tough Mexican style brawler who is on a 4 match winning streak. This will only be the second time fighting outside of his native Mexico, and the first time he has ever fought in the United States. His most recent wins have come against Guillermo Avila, Jesus Santillan, Edgar Monarrez and Genaro Camargo, with a lone loss in 2014 to now world champion Lee Selby. Koasicha does not have the same boxing skill as the champion Lomachenko, and will need to turn this into an ugly street fight to stand any chance against a very formidable opponent.
Lomachenko is the real deal. He won a world title in only his third professional fight and is known as the “greatest” amateur fighter of all time, with a said record of 396 wins to 1 loss. He is a two time Olympic Gold medalist, and with all intent and purposes on his way to becoming one of the premier fighters in the entire sport. After rebounding from a very close split decision loss in only his second professional fight against Orlando Salido. Vasyl bounced back to win a vacant title over now WBC champ Gary Russell Jr. Lomachenko has gone on to impress by dominating lesser opponents and has stayed in the mainstream by appearing on major shows undercards. He has been very adamant that he is looking to unify titles in 2016 as well as voicing out through social media, wanting to fight former champion Yuriorkis Gamboa. Lomachenko should make easy work out of his opponent this Saturday, and is always entertaining to watch
In the main event former two time World Lightweight champion Brandon “Bam-Bam” Rios (33-2-1 24KO) will look to capture a title in a second division and revitalize his career. Standing in his way is the WBO welterweight champion Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley Jr. (32-1-1 12KO).
Rios is coming off of back to back wins. One against his rival, in their rubber match, stopping Mike Alvarado in 3 rounds, and the other an ugly fight, which earned him a Disqualification win against the hard hitting Argentine, Diego Chaves. 2013 was an ugly year for Rios, when he suffered his only two career losses, one to Alvarado in a slug fest, and the other, to one of the best fighters on the planet Manny Pacquiao, where Rios was out gunned in every way imaginable. Since that loss to Pacquiao, Rios has looked better, adding a boxing element to his natural brawling ability. He has also went up in weight to the 147lb division, that seems to be a great thing for him, since he was very much struggling to stay in the 135-140lb weight classes.
The Champion, Bradley, is also looking to get his career back on the right track. Even though he has only one loss on his record, a unanimous decision loss to Pacquiao in their rematch, he has done very little to impress since 2012. Bradley beat Pacquiao in what is known as one of the most controversial decisions in recent memory. He followed that up with a win over Ruslan Provodnikov that many thought showed Bradley’s heart and will to win, but did not see the elite fighter he was once known to be. A great win over Juan Manuel Marquez followed in 2013, where the Bradley everyone knew, boxed circles around the great Mexican warrior Marquez. Then came the loss to Pacquiao in 2014, followed by a Split Draw against a lesser quality opponent in Diego Chaves and a very controversial Unanimous Decision against Jessie Vargas, earlier this year, where Vargas had Bradley nearly out on his feet, until the ref stopped the fight with 10 seconds left, thinking he heard the bell ring to end the fight.
Now Bradley will have a very tough, heavy chinned fighter in Rios in front of him. Bradley has split from his long time trainer Joel Diaz and signed up with Teddy Atlas to show him what he may be missing to become one of the best pound for pound fighters once again. Bradley has the ability to box Rios right out of the arena, but like we’ve seen before with Bradley, he can be sucked in to a brawl, and rarely backs down when engaged. Will Rios try and take advantage of that, and bring the street fight into the ring, or will Teddy Atlas have Bradley trained to stick to the game plan and use his mobility and exceptional hand speed to win? It should be entertaining either way it plays out.
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank