By Miguel Rivera
Brandon Rios, the former lightweight world champion, is looking to shock the critics when he takes on former two-division champion Danny Garcia (33-1, 19 KOs) in a twelve round welterweight bout on Saturday night from the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Rios (34-3-1, 25 KOs), who is back with veteran trainer Robert Garcia, has taken on a new persona with a no-nonsense training camp.
"I stop talking when I'm hitting the bag. It's not that I don't want to talk to you, but I'm not physically the same and I have to prepare myself in the best way for any opponent," Rios told Jad El Reda.
The native of Oxnard said he will not stop being the "usual clown", but he will take things more seriously, especially since that he believes that his retirement from the sport is only three years away.
"Soon I will be 32 (on April 29) and I see my career ending at 35, but first I want to make sure that I finish at the top of boxing," said Rios.
The World Boxing Council has made his contest with Garcia a final eliminator - which means a victory will place Rios in line for a world title shot against Keith Thurman. Shawn Porter is the first mandatory challenger in position.
"I am sparring with young cats, they are hungry and want to test themselves," explained Ríos. "They have been pushing me to the limit and Robert [Garcia] has done a good job with Donald [Leary] in this camp. If I beat Danny García, it returns me to the top again."
Rios explained that he fought with the wrong mentality when he was dominated in his fight with eight division champion Manny Pacquiao in 2013.
"The Pacquiao thing, it was my fault," Rios confessed. "Fame took over me, it was not Brandon Ríos, it was someone else. I've already been to the top and I do not want to go back up there in that manner again. I want to be up there, yes, but [not with the previous mentality]. My job is to go for it, to win."