By Keith Idec
Timothy Bradley and Brandon Rios share the same manager.
Cameron Dunkin represents both boxers, but Bradley still doesn’t share Rios’ optimism regarding Rios’ chances Saturday night against Manny Pacquiao. The WBO welterweight champion predicted Pacquiao will knock out Rios in the eighth round of their 12-round welterweight fight in Macau, China (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT; HBO Pay-Per-View; $64.95 in HD).
Bradley “absolutely” expects Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) to return to his championship form following scary one-punch, sixth-round knockout loss to Mexican nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez last Dec. 8 in Las Vegas. Bradley pointed to his own comeback performance against Marquez last month as proof Pacquiao can overcome that devastating defeat.
“You saw me in my last fight,” Bradley said, referring to his split-decision victory over Marquez on Oct. 12 in Las Vegas. “I overcame a brutal fight with Ruslan Provodnikov, and I took an extreme amount of punishment in that fight and suffered a concussion. And I bounced back and I fought smart. I got hit with some shots in that fight [against Marquez] and I was OK. I wasn’t rattled at all.”
Furthermore, Bradley boxed a more accomplished, complete opponent in Marquez (55-7-1, 40 KOs) than Pacquiao will encounter at The Venetian Macao’s Cotai Arena. Rios, it appears to Bradley, is the perfect foe for Pacquiao in his comeback bout.
“The big thing here is styles,” Bradley said. “Styles make fights and we all know that. Rios has a style that definitely suits Manny Pacquiao very well. He comes forward, he’s face-first, he doesn’t care about defense, he gets hit with big shots, he takes big shots.
“But Rios needs to understand that he hasn’t taken shots from a guy that’s going to touch him hard with both hands. I’m telling you. I’ve been in the ring with this guy. What’s special about this guy is he throws combinations and every shot’s a death blow. It’s not like the last shot is hard. No, every shot is hard, man. So Rios definitely is going to have to be on his Ps and Qs. I know Rios is a big puncher and I know he comes to fight, but I just think he’s a tad bit too slow for Pacquiao and I don’t think he’s the best counter-puncher at all as well. So that’s my take.”
Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs, 1 NC) also offered the often-reckless Rios some sound advice, suggestions Rios (31-1-1, 23 KOs) would be wise to heed if the Oxnard, Calif., resident is to have a real chance at pulling off an upset against the heavily favored, 34-year-old Filipino superstar.
“I think his biggest concern should be that left hand of Pacquiao’s,” said Bradley, who “beat” Pacquiao by split decision in their June 2012 fight in Las Vegas. “Pacquiao has a huge left hand. He feints a lot; he tries to lure you in. I think he’s going to probably try to let Rios get off first. And he’s going to make him pay for every mistake he does. And Rios has a tendency of lunging in, so he better be careful because that left hand is definitely coming over the top and he better be very aware of it. I told my manager, Cameron Dunkin, to let him to know to stay away from that left hand, man.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.