Timothy Bradley said misgivings about taking punishment were among the top reasons he opted to hire ESPN boxing analyst Teddy Atlas as his new trainer.
No fighter will test Bradley's commitment to his policy more than Oxnard's Brandon Rios, a fear-nothing brawler who will meet Bradley Nov. 7 at Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.
"At this point, I feel like I need more discipline to my game," Cathedral City's Bradley said Wednesday at a news conference at the downtown Los Angeles Biltmore to formally announce the HBO bout.
"I need to start doings more correctly. Keeping my hands up. Not getting hit with those big shots. Stop making so many mistakes. … Teddy told me, 'You can't use your [guts] in this fight, you've got to use your brain. I'm going to show you, when to fight and when not to, to go about it the right way. You'll fight on the inside, I'm going to show you how to do it correctly.' "
Bradley (32-1-1, 12 knockouts) split with longtime trainer Joel Diaz after getting knocked down late in the 12th round of his June 27 victory by decision over Jessie Vargas at StubHub Center in Carson. The World Boxing Organization later elevated Bradley to welterweight champion after Floyd Mayweather Jr. failed to pay sanctioning fees.
In Rios (33-2-1, 23 KOs), Bradley faces a rugged fighter whose only losses are to Manny Pacquiao and Mike Alvarado, an opponent he defeated in two other meetings.
Rios isn't buying Bradley's interest in reverting to pure boxing.
"I know Bradley's going to come out to fight," Rios said. "He can train to box, but he's a warrior and he's going to come to fight. And I'm going to fight my fight. Do what I do."
Tickets, priced from $50 to $400, go on sale Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Thomas and Mack box offfice and online at www.unlvtickets.com.
The card will also include two-time Ukrainian gold medaliast Vasyl Lomachenko defending his WBO featherweight belt against Mexico's Romulo Koasicha.
Fight promoter Bob Arum said the winner of Bradley-Rios will make a push to fight Saul "Canelo" Alvarez should he defeat Miguel Cotto on Nov. 21.
"I can go to 154 no problem. Easy," Bradley said.
It's Bradley's contention that by facing Pacquiao twice and defeating the likes of Ruslan Provodnikov, Juan Manuel Marquez, Lamont Peterson and Devon Alexander, he's far more established in the sport than Rios.
"He's a big name in the division, but I've fought the better talent," Bradley said.
He praised Atlas' personal kindness, honesty and interest in refining the former junior-welterweight champion in a one-fight arrangement that could be extended based on the experience.
"I like guys that are real," Bradley said. "I'm his No. 1 priority and he has a boatload of knowledge. … He said, 'Tim, the only reason you haven't been knocked out is because you don't want to be knocked out, but you should've been knocked out.' "
Rios is training in Riverside at the new base of his trainer, Robert Garcia. Rios hasn't fought since January, a result of failed efforts to arrange a fight against England's Kell Brook and difficulties in finalizing the Bradley bout.
"I feel like I got suspended again," he said of previous discipline following the Pacquiao loss in China. "I'm a fighter. I want to fight. I was getting frustrated. Everyone was fighting but me. I need to stay active.