Timothy Bradley to defend WBO title against hard-hitting Brandon Rios

Timothy Bradley, left, and Manny Pacquiao, of the Philippines, face off in their WBO welterweight title boxing fight Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Las Vegas.
Timothy Bradley, left, and Manny Pacquiao, of the Philippines, face off in their WBO welterweight title boxing fight Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Las Vegas. AP

Living on the edge might be a suitable way to describe Timothy Bradley’s recent fights.

Bradley, a two-division world champion, fought in matches that ranged from a rematch loss to Manny Pacquiao, an action-intense bout against Diego Chaves that ended in a draw and two narrow-escape victories against Ruslan Provodnikov and Jessie Vargas, when Bradley survived possible final-round knockout losses.

In his attempt to remain a relevant welterweight and return to the pay-per-view landscape, Bradley vows to avoid the drama linked to the aforementioned bouts on Saturday night. Bradley (32-1-1, 12 KOs) will defend his World Boxing Organization welterweight belt against former 140-pound champion Brandon Rios at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas (9:30 p.m., HBO).

“My game plan is to stay totally focused for 36 minutes of fighting,” Bradley said last week. “Rios fights hard, is relentless, can endure pain and looks for one shot to hurt me.”

Bradley’s added emphasis on focus is fueled by new guidance in his career. ESPN and Olympic boxing analyst Teddy Atlas will work his first fight as Bradley’s trainer on Saturday. Atlas, who previously trained former heavyweight champion Michael Moorer, replaced Joel Diaz.

“When Teddy came to camp, he took a book of images of certain rounds I had fought previously,” Bradley said. “There were notes about what I did right and what I did wrong. No trainer of mine has ever prepared for a fight like Teddy has for me against Rios.”

Rios (32-2-1, 26 KOs) intends on spoiling the debut of the Bradley-Atlas partnership.

“I want to get back on top in boxing — Bradley is in my way,” Rios said. “Bradley is going to be my ticket back to the top.”

Rios and trainer Robert Garcia believe their strategy of pressing the boxing-minded Bradley will result in close-range exchanges that will wear down Bradley and place him in perilous situations as in his fights against Provodnikov and Vargas.

“Rios can bring on the pressure all night, and we will deal with it,” Bradley said. “We are prepared for intense pressure. The only chance Rios has is a lucky punch, and that’s not going to happen.”

▪ Miami resident Breidis Prescott will fight on the undercard of Saturday night’s show at Miccosukee Resort and Gaming. Prescott will face Brazil’s Claudinei Lazerda in a scheduled eight-round junior-middleweight bout.

Prescott (28-7, 21 KOs) overcame a hard-fought and disputed split-decision loss against Fredrick Lawson on March 26 at Hialeah Park and Casino with a second-round TKO win over Kendry Galban on July 18 in Prescott’s native Colombia. Given the emotional toll of the close loss against Lawson, Prescott called for a rematch after the bout.

Although he still has not been rewarded with his wish, Prescott will have another opportunity to call out Lawson, especially with his proximity to the unbeaten native of Ghana on fight night. Lawson (24-0, 20 KOs) will face Canada’s Kevin Bizier (24-2, 16 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round bout that headlines the Miccosukee card.

NBC Sports Network will broadcast the Lawson-Bizier fight.

Saturday’s card is only the third in South Florida this year but the first of two shows within a three-week period. Premier Boxing Champions and Hollywood-based Warriors Boxing, which will present the card, have another show planned for Nov. 25 at Hialeah Park and Casino.

Coming up

Friday (10 p.m., Showtime): Antoine Douglas vs. Les Sherrington, 12, middleweights.

Saturday (6:30 p.m., at Miccosukee Resort and Gaming, 500 SW 177 Ave., Miami): seven-bout card, headlined by Fredrick Lawson vs. Kevin Bizier, 10, junior middleweights; $100 VIP, $50 reserved and $25 general admission; 1-877-840-0457 or 305-222-4600.

Saturday (9:30 p.m., HBO): Timothy Bradley vs. Brandon Rios, 12, for Bradley’s WBO welterweight title; Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Romulo Koasicha, 12, for Lomachenko’s WBO featherweight title.