For years, Timothy Bradley and Brandon Rios were both in the same stable of manager Cameron Dunkin, which meant they wouldn’t fight each other because of the conflict of interest.
While many times fighters with the same manager or trainers build a friendship, that wasn’t the case with Bradley and Rios, who emerged to become Dunkin’s most successful boxers.
At the start of 2014, Bradley left Dunkin, which opened the way for their fight on Nov. 7 at the Thomas and Mack Arena in Las Vegas. The fight is scheduled to be for Bradley’s WBO welterweight title.
Both Bradley and Rios acknowledged they didn’t have a relationship during their time together with Dunkin. But Bradley said he never got a good vibe from Rios.
“Even though we were together (with Dunkin), we had bad blood, something to say or negative energy when I was around him,” Bradley said Wednesday during the kickoff press conference in Los Angeles’ Millennium Biltmore Hotel. “We never clicked at all. Not even a hi.”
Rios just said they never had a conversation or anything like a relationship.
When Bradley signed with Dunkin, he said he had his eyes set on taking on Rios and was bugging his manager.
“I was asking for this fight for a long time. Cameron wouldn’t give it to us because of a conflict of interest,” Bradley said. “I said let me fight Rios. I asked him several times. He said, no, I don’t want to do it. It wouldn’t make sense for him to lose one of his money guys.”
Rios will be the second Dunkin fighter Bradley will face. In June, Bradley won a unanimous decision over Jessie Vargas in Carson, Calif., to regain his WBO welterweight title.
Rios, who hasn’t fought since January, said Vargas was offered to him.
“It’s the same way with Vargas. They wanted me to fight Vargas,” Rios said. “I can’t dude. I don’t want to. I called Cameron, ‘Hey, I don’t really want to, because he’s with you and I don’t do that. But if you’re OK with it, I’m OK with it.”
It was after Bradley’s victory over Vargas that he told his wife and manager Monica that he felt he would have to fight Rios next.
“It makes sense,” Bradley said. “The fact I’m willing to face everyone, they’re going to throw me those kind of guys. I want to face the best guys out there.
“I told you, I’m willing to face anyone, but don’t give me chump change to face a guy like Brandon, who’s a tough guy.”
Dunkin lead both Bradley and Rios to their richest paydays.
In 2012, Bradley earned a reported $5 million when he beat Manny Pacquiao that created an uproar in the sport. Rios also fought Pacquiao at the end of 2013.
The Nov. 7 fight promises to be an exciting one by two fighter who bring the action.
And the anticipation got to Bradley during the faceoff at Wednesday’s press conference. During the stare down, Bradley had to be physically removed, but then shook hands with Rios.
But the tension was there.
“It’s two thoroughbreds in front of each other. You smell it, you feel it,” Bradley said. “We know what we’re getting in there to do, what we got to do.
“With all this on the line and the hype of the fight, it’s hard for us. It’s really hard for us.”
Rios is coming off a convincing victory over Mike Alvarado in January in the third of their trilogy. While Alvarado seemed distracted by legal problems, Rios looked in top shape.
And Rios promises to be at his best for Bradley.
“This fight is going to bring out the best Brandon Rios I can be,” Rios said. “I’m going to be ready, I’m going to be well prepared and well-trained for this fight.”