By Mark Whicker
Brandon Rios has not won a fight since October of 2012. That also was the last time he didn’t use a strength and conditioning coach.
That might be a coincidence, but Rios is taking no chances. With Alex Ariza no longer employed by trainer Robert Garcia, Rios hopes to be quicker and more animated for Diego Chavez on Aug. 2.
“I’m still cool with Alex,” Rios said. “When I see him I say, ‘What’s up’ and all that. But when I was winning fights I didn’t have a strength and conditioning coach. I had Memo Heredia and I lost (to Mike Alvarado). I had Alex and I lost (to Manny Pacquiao). Those guys are good at what they do. It just might not be the best thing for me.”
Rios was also suspended for six months following his loss to Pacquiao in Macau last November for using a weight loss drug that was on the banned list.
Garcia parted company with Ariza after their fighter, Marcos Maidana, lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr.
"Brandon felt heavy, looked heavy and really didn't have as much power," Garcia said. "It's something that we tried and it didn't work."
Rios has changed nutritionists and, while he still eats small meals as he did with Ariza, he has cut out meat except for the occasional steak he has when he reaches certain weight milestones.
"I'm eating more vegetables than I ever have," Rios said. "My house looks like a fruit market."
Although Rios said he's proud of the way he competed in the rematch loss to Alvarado and against Pacquiao, he and Garcia recognize the danger of a third consecutive loss. Chaves is a brawler from Argentina who gave Keith Thurman trouble until he was knocked out in the 10tth round.
"This is not the opponent we would have picked," Garcia said. "But this is the one Top Rank and HBO wanted to give us."
"I was just star-struck against Pacquiao and I lost my mind a little bit in the first round," Rios said. "It was the first name I'd been on that stage. I know people are writing me off, that I'm a has-been or a never-was. So this is important for me. It's do or die for my career, and I don't want to die.".
Mark Whicker has been a sports columnist in Southern California for 27 years.