By Chris Robinson
At the moment WBA lightweight champion Brandon Rios is one of the hottest names in the sport. The Oxnard, California-based fighter is coming off of a scintillating 3rd round TKO over Urbano Antillon last month that only further heightened his appeal and people are dying to see what his next move is.
While Rios admits there is business to settle at 135 pounds, he also can’t hide his interest in one day moving to the junior welterweight division. He often keeps his eye on the action taking place at 140 pounds and I thought he would be a good person to ask when discussing the upcoming Erik Morales-Lucas Matthyse clash for the vacant WBC title.
Morales meets up with the dangerous Argentinean on September 17th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas as part of the ‘Star Power’ pay-per-view event and the fight figures to be chalked full of excitement. Giving his take on the bout, Rios seems happy that Matthyse is still in the picture after losing disputed split-decisions to Devon Alexander and Zab Judah over the past nine months.
“It’s going to be a good fight,” said Rios. “I think Lucas Matthyse deserves another shot. I know his last two fights have been losses, I think by split-decision, but I feel he deserves another shot for a world title. I’m glad for him and it’s going to be a good fight.”
It’s pretty amazing to see the 34-year old Morales in a fight so meaningful at this point in his career, as he was pretty much left for dead after his decision loss to David Diaz in August of 2007. ‘El Terrible’ resurfaced in 2010 and surprised many this past April by giving a spirited effort in pushing Marcos Maidana to the limit over twelve full-throttle rounds.
Despite coming up short on the scorecards, Rios admits he was shocked to see Morales fight so well.
“I thought it was great, the way he performed in that fight with Maidana,” Rios added. “Nobody gave him a chance but he showed he still has what it takes to become a world champion. It’s definitely going to be a good fight with him and Lucas Matthyse because he definitely has the style like Maidana.”
Rios is torn as far as giving a prediction on the fight but sees a long night for both men.
“It going to go to a decision. Morales, he won me over with Maidana because I thought Maidana was going to tear him up. He took good shots like it was nothing. It’s hard to say [who wins] but I think it’s going to be a good fight. I’m not sure who’s going to win or not,” Rios said bluntly.
What shouldn’t be overlooked when assessing the fight is the fact that the WBC belt that Morales and Matthyse will be fighting for was blatantly stripped from champion Timothy Bradley. While it appears to be a move by Jose Sulaiman’s ( ) in order to give Morales a crack at a fourth world title, Rios can sympathize with what Bradley is going through.
“Yeah, I don’t know why they stripped him,” Rios said of Bradley. “He’s a good fighter, he’s been winning, and they just took his belt away. For them to take it away like that, it’s not right.”
Rios finished up by revealing that his injured hand is doing much better and that he is almost 100% and ready for ‘whoever’ they put in front of him. It looks more and more likely that he will be seeing time on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez trilogy at the MGM Grand on November 12th.