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Timothy Bradley Jr. to fight Brandon Rios; bout may not be for title

Although negotiations for a fight between welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr. and Brandon Rios collapsed about a month ago, the sides went back to work and have finalized a deal that will pit two well-known fighters in a bout that figures to be action-packed.

However, whether Bradley's 147-pound world title will be at stake in the Nov. 7 fight, which will take place at the refurbished Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas and headline an HBO-televised card, remains to be seen.

Top Rank, which promotes both boxers, and host casino Wynn Las Vegas announced the fight Tuesday as a world title match.

However, Bradley has a mandatory title defense due against top contender Sadam Ali (22-0, 13 KOs), and the WBO has said repeatedly that it will not sanction Bradley-Rios as a world title bout unless Top Rank makes a deal with Golden Boy Promotions, Ali's promoter, for him to step aside.

If Ali agrees to step aside, for a six-figure payment, he would be guaranteed a title shot against the Bradley-Rios winner.

But according to Golden Boy, Ali will not agree to step aside. The fighter has also said time and again he wants his title shot. So while Bradley-Rios will still go on as planned, it may ultimately be a non-title bout, although Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti didn't sound too concerned.

"We're confident it will all work out in the end and all parties will be satisfied," Moretti told ESPN.com.

Even if it's not a world title fight, it won't diminish the excitement that Bradley and Rios, who both gained fame by fighting Manny Pacquiao, have for their showdown.

"I am excited to get back into the ring on Nov. 7 against a very game and very dangerous Brandon Rios," Bradley said. "I know that he is dedicated to giving the fans what they pay for. So am I. I guarantee you that the Thomas & Mack Center will once again deliver a great match."

Said Rios: "We've been looking for a big fight and at last we have it. I'll be ready."

The fighters and their teams, along with Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, will be on hand for a news conference to formally announce the bout on Sept. 16 at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles.

The opening bout on HBO's telecast will feature featherweight titlist Vasyl Lomachenko (4-1, 2 KOs), 27, the two-time Ukrainian Olympic gold medalist regarded as one of the best amateurs in history, making his third defense against an opponent to be determined.

Bradley (32-1-1, 12 KOs), 31, of Palm Springs, California, a two-time welterweight titlist and former junior welterweight titleholder, outpointed Jessie Vargas on June 27 to claim an interim title. He was elevated to full titleholder a couple of weeks later when Floyd Mayweather declined to follow WBO rules or pay his sanctioning fee for the belt, which he won from Manny Pacquiao on May 2.

Bradley, who rumbled his way to a decision in a welterweight title fight with Ruslan Provodnikov in the 2013 fight of the year, will go into the fight with a new trainer, having fired career-long corner man Joel Diaz two weeks ago. Bradley has not yet named a new trainer.

Rios (33-2-1, 24 KOs), 29, of Oxnard, California, a former lightweight world titleholder, has not fought since a one-sided third-round knockout of ill-prepared Mike Alvarado to win their trilogy 2-1 on Jan. 24 in Alvarado's hometown of Denver. Their first two bouts, in 2012 and 2013, were each fight of the year contenders.

"This is a great between two of the best welterweights in the world and they both have big names," said Cameron Dunkin, Rios' manager and Bradley's former manager. "They've fought everybody. They're both very experienced. It's a fight that everybody is talking about and wants to see, so I am really, really excited about the matchup. Brandon is very focused on this."

Rios said he has a lot of respect for Bradley.

"Timothy Bradley has been around for a long time. He fought Pacquiao twice and no matter what happened the first time, if it was controversial or not, he beat him. He won. He got the title," Rios, who lost a lopsided decision to Pacquiao in 2013 in Macau, China and then tested positive for a banned substance, said of Bradley's massively disputed split decision win against Pacquiao in 2012. "It's an honor to get back in the spotlight and fight a great champion."

Whether the title is on the line or not, Rios said he didn't care.

"As long as I get a fight, I don't care," Rios said. "It's great to be fighting for a title but I don't really care. Either way I will train my ass off and take it as a title fight because Bradley is a legit fighter and he will come to fight, especially when you put the pressure on him. When you put pressure on him, like I will do, the fighter in him will come out."

Rios also said he was extremely disappointed in Top Rank that he has had to wait since January to fight again, especially after being in top condition and fighting superbly in the knockout of Alvarado.

"I didn't care who I was going to fight. I was just happy Top Rank got me a fight after Alvarado. I didn't care who it was," Rios said. "It was very frustrating. I'm so pissed off, but at the end of the day I can't let it affect me, and I can't think about it. But I'm mad and I'm disappointed with Top Rank with the way they came about the business. Bob Arum told me after the Alvarado fight I'd be back in June and then nothing happened. It sucks the way it worked out. I like to stay active, especially after a great performance against Alvarado."

Moretti said Rios was offered other fights, including a title shot against England's Kell Brook, which broke down over terms of Brook's rematch clause.

"Offers for other fights were made to Rios and his team that were declined," Moretti said. "Now he has as big a fight as there is, which is what his focus is on now, I hope."

Rios said his focus is not an issue.

"I will be well prepared again for this big opportunity," he said. "I'm back to my old days -- happy training, hungry. I made a lot of money at a young age out of nowhere and I got a little cocky. Good thing I learned that before it was too late. You'll see me like against Bradley the way I was against Alvarado in the third fight."