Thomas and Mack Center, Las Vegas, NV, Nov. 7
By Peter Lim
Brandon Rios is almost an exact clone of Ruslan Provodnikov; although he isn't as powerful as Provodnikov, he's a tad sharper, slightly more polished and a more consistent body puncher, which will ultimately tilt the balance in this showdown.
The same thrilling back-and-forth action that was Bradley-Provodnikov transpires, with Bradley landing at a higher volume and Rios connecting with the more debilitating shots, his signature hooks to the body in particular. Working his jab overtime, Bradley pulls comfortably ahead at the halfway mark, but Rios is able to make subtle adjustments in the middle rounds to time Bradley between
punches as he flurries and stop him in his tracks with accurate counters.
Rios scores a knockdown Bradley late in the fight to eke out a
razor-close split decision victory in a Fight of the Year
Hats off to Rios for being honest to the fans and, more importantly to himself, in recognizing and acknowledging that he's depleted as a fighter, both mentally and physically.