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WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley Jr. celebrates on the ropes after knocking out Brandon Rios.
WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley Jr. celebrates on the ropes after knocking out Brandon Rios. (John Gurzinski / AFP / Getty Images)

Timothy Bradley may need a new nickname.

Desert Storm might fittingly be replaced by Desert Swarm, because swarm is what he did to Brandon Rios on Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center here in their 12-round welterweight fight.

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It ended with 2 minutes 49 seconds left in the ninth round. Bradley had swarmed and bombed and jabbed and hooked. And suddenly, he connected with a body shot that sent Rios to his knees. He got up at the count of nine, but Bradley was on him like peanut butter on bread.

This time, Rios took a second body shot, went to his knees again and did not stand up before the 10-count.

Rios was supposed to be the swarmer, the hyperactive, hang-it-all-out-there boxer. Instead, after Bradley hit him with everything but the kitchen sink — and that was only in the first round — Rios may be the hang-'em-up-fighter.

"I think I'm done," he told interviewers afterward. He is 29.

Bradley may be 32 and by age alone perceived to be in the twilight of a career himself. But he was so dominant against Rios that fight fans are probably not done with him yet.

"That's the best Tim Bradley I've ever seen," said his promoter, Bob Arum. Top Rank's Arum obviously has an agenda in saying things such as that. But in this case, he was right.

When it was over, Bradley had landed 254 punches to Rios' 81. He started by going right at Rios in the first round. Pop, pop, pop, pop. They all landed either directly on, or in the vicinity of, Rios' chin, which is one of the best in the fight game. About five seconds of the fight had elapsed.

The trend was set, and that was the plan, as set forth by Bradley's new trainer, the accomplished and always vocal Teddy Atlas.

"You take him, piece by piece," Atlas said. "Break him down, little by little, like a piranha. Then you drop him."

Bradley said, simply, "I did exactly what Teddy told me to do."

Bradley and Atlas certainly expected Rios to be less docile, to stand and box more, rather than duck and grab and hold as much as he did. Rios entered the ring looking flabby and fought that way.

Matter of fact, the best quote of the promotion was Atlas' description of Rios' style, and what he felt Bradley would have to contend with.

"Rios is the kind of fighter," Atlas said, "who comes forward during the national anthem."

Rios not only felt the Teddy Atlas "piece-by-piece" plan and lived its results, he said afterward he admired and respected it.

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"He hit me with a perfect body shot up the middle," he said. "Then he came back with a body shot on the side."

Rios recovered in a few minutes to get off his corner stool, walk across the ring to the winning Bradley, hug him and tell him, "I really respect you."

He elaborated on that later: "The better man won tonight," Rios said. "It is what it is."

Bradley is not a knockout guy. This was just his 13th in 35 fights, where his record became 33-1-1 with Saturday night's impressive victory. Interestingly, he had confided in friends before the fight that he didn't think he could knock out Rios.

That wasn't the plan, anyway. Volume punching was.

Bradley entered the match as a 5-1 favorite, and many who had seen former champion Rios over the years — excluding his dull performance in Macau against Manny Pacquiao in November 2013 — felt he would be a tougher opponent than that.

Atlas had said at the news conference Thursday, "We didn't prepare for a 5-1 underdog. We prepared for an even-odds fighter."

Bradley, of Palm Springs, got $1.9 million for the fight. Rios, of Oxnard, got $800,000, a figure that may help to ease his burden in retirement, if indeed he goes through with that.

Rios had called a Bradley a "good boxer, but not excellent." Suffice to say, his opinion appears to have changed.

Bradley's impressive performance may further his cause for another huge payday. That would come from a third match with Pacquiao, who has said he will fight one more time, probably in April, before he embark full time on his Senate campaign in the Philippines.

Also in the running for the spot against Pacquiao in April, likely in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand, are Terrance Crawford and Amir Khan.

Twitter: @DwyreLATimes

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