By Lem Satterfield
Top Rank Promotions CEO Bob Arum told BoxingScene.com that he expects for newly-crowned WBA lightweight titlist, Brandon Rios, to return to the ring on July 9 on Showtime against an opponent to be determined, with the long-range goals of perhaps facing three-division, five-time world champion, Marco Antonio Barrera, in the fall.
"We're working on that. But we have to find out when Marco Antonio Barrera can return," said Arum. "But if they win their next fights, then the plan is that they will fight each other."
The 24-year-old Rios (27-0-1, 20 knockouts) is coming off of a February, 26, 10th-round knockout that dethroned 32-year-old Miguel Acosta (28-4, 22 KOs), ending the loser's 19-fight winning streak the had included 12 knockouts and stoppages in his previous three bouts.
Prior to taht, Rios had scored November's fourth-round knockout of Omri Lowther (14-3, 10 KOs) that took place at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium.
Since battling to a 10-round draw with Manuel Perez in October of 2008, Rios has won nine straight fights, eight of them by knockout, including a September's seventh-round, technical decision over previously unbeaten Anthony Peterson (30-1, 20 KOs), of Washington, D.C.
"I was thinking more like we would be on a date like at the beginning of June, hopefully on a big under card, but if it's July, you know, then we're good to go a month later," said Rios' trainer, Robert Garcia.
"We're not concerned about the opponents, you know, that's Bob job," said Garcia. "But if it's July, you know, then it's July, and we'll be ready."
On February 12, less than a month after his 37th birthday, Barrera of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, scored a knockdown in each round on the way to a second-round stoppage of 43-year-old journeyman Jorge Arias of Providence, R.I.
The win represented the 44th knockout, and the 67th victory overall against seven losses for Barrera, who ended a nine-fight winning streak by Arias (15-2, nine KOs) that had included seven consecutive knockout wins for a man who was stopped for the first time in his career.
Barrera had ended a 15-month layoff with June's lightweight, unanimous decision over Brazil's Adailton De Jesus, his first opponent since losing a five-round, technical decision to current WBA junior welterweight (140 pounds) titlist Amir Khan (24-1, 17 KOs) of England in March of 2009.
BoxingScene.com spoke to Barrera on February 18 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel at the weigh-in prior to a Feb. 19 bantamweight championship clash during which WBO and WBC titlist Fernando Montiel (44-3-2, 34 KOs), of Mexico, was knocked out during the second-round by former WBA interim super flyweight king Nonito Donaire (26-1, 18 KOs).
At that time, Barrera indicated that he indeed wanted to face Rios, should he get beyond Acosta, in addition to vowing that he would retire at the end of 2011.
"First of all, I'm retiring in December. Regardless of what happens, I'm going to call it quits in December because I've spoken to my family about it. For health reasons, I don't want to stick around in the sport and allow anything to
happen to me," said Barrera.
"So, as I've said, I have spoken to my family, and we have decided that this is it, no matter what happens. I will fight again in April, and then, after that, I will look to fight the winner between [WBA lightweight champion] Miguel Acosta and Brandon Rios," said Barrera. "So that's a fight, hopefully, that will come off in September. I don't have an opponent yet for April, but I'm still waiting for my promoter, Fernando Beltran, of Zanfer Promotions, and Bob Arum to pick an opponent."
The 31-year-old Montiel and Barrera are among five Mexican fighters to have won world titles over the course of three divisions -- the others being WBA and WBO lightweight (135 pounds) titlist Juan Manuel Marquez (51-5-1, 38 KOs), Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. (107-6-2, 86 KOs) and Erik Morales (51-6, 35 KOs).
Barrera is most known for winning two fights in his trilogy with Morales, one whose legendary status, for Mexicans, rivals the one between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. In addition, Barrera remains the only man to have defeated former WBO and IBF featherweight (126 pounds) King Prince Naseem Hamed of England, who was 35-0, with 31 knockouts before losing a unanimous decision to Barrera in April of 2001.
Always a warrior, Barrera has twice defeated Rocky Juarez, fallen by unanimous decision to Marquez, and lost, respectively, by 11th-round knockout and decision to eight-division king and WBO welterweight (147 pounds) champion, Manny Pacquiao (53-2-1, 38 KOs).