By Tim Fletcher: Teddy Altas, an ESPN analyst and trainer for WBO welterweight champion Tim Bradley (32-1-1, 12 KOs), feels very confident about the 32-year-old Bradley’s chances of success against Brandon Rios (33-2-1, 24 KOs) on Saturday night in their fight on HBO.
This is Atlas’s first fight as Bradley’s trainer, but he’s quite pleased with what he’s seen from Bradley during their 7-week training camp for this fight. Atlas said that Bradley followed all his instructions during the camp and proved to be a quick learner. Just how much Atlas needed to teach Bradley is unclear.
I don’t know if there’s too much Atlas can add to Bradley’s game other than getting him to reign in his game to make him less aggressive, because that’s what’s gotten Bradley in trouble in the past. He’s not a true welterweight, and he’s not blessed with a lot of punching power. For that reason, Bradley tends to struggle when he starts punching with natural welterweights.
“We have to execute on Saturday night or all this doesn’t mean anything,” Atlas said via the nypost.com. “But I feel very strong from what I’ve seen in seven weeks of training camp. I feel very good.”
The real question is how Atlas will react if things don’t go his way on Saturday night. If Bradley falls behind in the fight, or if he’s struggling in one area of his game, does Atlas blow his stack and start going overboard with the drama in the corner, or will he keep his cool and give Bradley some useful advice.
It won’t help Bradley if Atlas attempts to rev up Bradley’s engine by motivating him to fight harder, because that could play into Rios’ hands by Bradley fighting harder and brawling more. With Bradley, you want to get him to fight smarter and not necessarily harder. Bradley gets hurt when he tries to brawl with his stronger opponents.
At 32, Bradley isn’t a young fighter any longer, and it’s not in his best interest for him to go out there looking to punch with the stronger Rios. Both fighters are about the same size in terms of weight, but Rios, 5’8”, is two inches taller than Bradley, and he’s the much better puncher of the two.
Bradley won’t do well to try and get in the pocket with Rios to try and slug with him the way that Mike Alvarado did in his first fight with him. I don’t think Bradley will be able to stay together if he tries to punch with him.
“You always know what you’re going to get from Rios,” Bradley said. “He’s pretty one-dimensional. He’s not going to all of a sudden start boxing and moving. You know he’s going to be coming straight in. He’s always going to be on you every minute. We have to be ready to deal with the pressure for 12 rounds and be focused for 12 rounds. That’s what we’ve done in the camp. We’re ready for all the pressure that Rios is going to bring,” Bradley said.
It’s quite possible that Bradley is going to move nonstop for 12 rounds, and will be looking to hold a lot, and throw short bursts of punches. It’ll probably be a lot like Bradley’s first fight Juan Manuel Marquez in 2013. Bradley used constant movement and quick combinations to get the better of Marquez.
The reason why it was a success in that fight was because Marquez never put any pressure Bradley to force him to fight the way he should have. Marquez kept waiting for Bradley to slug with him the way he had against Ruslan Provodnikov in his previous fight.
When Bradley failed to do that, Marquez proved incapable of switching to a plan-B to start applying pressure on him. It’s as if Marquez didn’t even plan for the possibility that Bradley would elect to box and move like he had in his first fight against Manny Pacquiao. That was a huge mistake on Marquez’s part by not coming up with a plan-B.
In Rios’ case, he’s ahead of the curve due to him having already trained for a mobile Bradley. As such, Rios will be ready if Bradley chooses to move, or if he elects to stand and slug with him. If Bradley chooses to use the punch and grab technique all night long, then Rios will be fighting to escape from the clinch rather than just giving up each time he’s held.