When Floyd Mayweather was forced to vacate his WBO welterweight title, Timothy Bradley was the beneficiary, winning the belt when he defeated Jessie Vargas on June 27. Bradley will defend his title for the first time on Saturday when he takes on Brandon Rios at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
With Mayweather having retired, Bradley is looking to establish himself as the top welterweight in boxing. Bradley has just one career loss, having been defeated by Manny Pacquiao in their April 2014 rematch of a fight that saw Bradley get a controversial split decision victory. Now he’ll face Rios, who hasn’t fought since he defeated Mike Alvarado in January.
Prior to beating Alvarado, Rios defeated Diego Chaves, whom Bradley fought to a controversial draw before defeating Vargas. Like Bradley, Rios suffered his last loss against Pacquiao.
Despite winning the title in his last fight, Bradley enters Saturday’s bout with a new trainer. Bradley parted ways with Joel Diaz, teaming up with trainer and ESPN boxing analyst Teddy Atlas. After a slow start to his training camp, Bradley is as confident as ever working with Atlas.
"Everything came together after like four weeks," Bradley told ESPN.com. "I was amazed, Teddy was amazed. I picked up a lot of stuff. We had a great camp. You will see the best Tim Bradley you've seen in a long time."
A victory for Rios would be considered an upset. Bradley is a -400 favorite at Bovada.lv, while Rios has +300 betting odds.
Bradley only has 12 career knockouts in 35 fights, and the most likely outcome is a win by decision. Rios has knocked out 24 of his 36 opponents, and if he defeats Bradley it might be before the end of the 12th round.
Vasyl Lomachenko will defend his featherweight title against Romulo Koasicha on Saturday night, as well. HBO’s coverage begins at 9:30 p.m. ET, but Bradley and Rios won’t actually fight in the main event until close to 10:30 p.m. ET.
Prediction: Bradley by unanimous decision