By Jake Donovan
Brandon Rios learned a valuable lesson in making weight the right way.
In the days leading up to his planned title defense against John Murray last December, Rios went days without food or water for the sake of trying to squeeze out every last pound in order to drop down to the 135 lb. lightweight limit. Putting his own health at risk proved futile, as Rios ultimately lost his title on the scales after missing weight.
Rios (29-0-1, 22KO) went on to win the fight by 11th round stoppage but still left the ring as an ex-champion, leaving his experience in New York City as bittersweet.
There were talks of moving up to 140 lb, but Rios decided to make changes in his training and eating habits in efforts to make a run at lightweight supremacy. The first showing of a healthier version of the lightweight star comes on April 14, when he takes on Richard Abril in Las Vegas.
At stake is the vacant version of the title he was forced to vacate at the scales in December. No longer of concern is whether or not the scale reads 135 or less. All Rios has to worry about is his what happens once the bell rings.
“We hired a nutritionist. He came in and helped us right away with the weight,” Rios said of the steps taken in the aftermath of the letdown prior to the Murray fight. “It’s coming off great. Usually at this point, I’m big, dry, stuffed up and don’t feel like doing too much.
“Now it’s different. I still feel strong and I’m ready just to rock and roll and on April 14 show the world on that I haven’t gone anywhere.”
Other key changes heading into this training camp were Rios remaining in familiar surroundings and also enjoying more one-on-one time with trainer Robert Garcia. Their last camp was divided with stablemate Antonio Margarito, who fought in the December headliner versus Miguel Cotto.
For this reason, Rios was forced to cross the border and see his time divided. This time around, it’s all about “Bam Bam” and to a backdrop he finds much more desirable.
“I think I train better when I’m at home,” Rios admits. “I’m with my family, I’m here at home, I see my friends. When I was in Mexico, it was a great experience training out there with the altitude. But I feel better when I’m at home. I’m at my own gym. I feel more comfortable and Robert is mainly focusing me this time.”
Come next Saturday, the focus will be on beating Abril and recovering what Rios firmly believes rightfully has belonged to him all along.
“The way I lost (the title), nobody beat me, I lost it to myself. I was down for a while. I had to get over it. My wife talked to me a lot. She said that these things happen, to get over it and not mess up my career. I’m just ready to get my title back and show the world that what happened in New York was a fluke.”
Step one comes April 13, when Rios is required to mount the scale for the official weigh-in. In most of his major fights prior to this, making weight was half the battle. Now, the only battle is the one physically taking place in the ring.
“I feel the difference big time. This is the smartest move I’ve ever made and it’s paying off very well.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter:@JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]