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Brandon Rios vs. Richard Abril: The Pre-Fight Report Card

by Cliff Rold, photo by Chris Farina

For those who thought Yuriorkis Gamboa had to be an absolute moron to piss away a major HBO date against Brandon Rios, for a reported million dollars and change, with no proven ability to put butts in seats, the weigh-in results for Rios-Richard Abril should enhance the thinking.

Rios looked terrible in photos, drawn and dehydrated, in missing the Lightweight limit of 135 lbs. by two pounds for his Saturday clash with interim WBA titlist Richard Abril.  Just as noteworthy, given time to burn more pounds, Rios returned to scale 139.  It’s hard not to think a starched Rios wouldn’t have been easy pickings for the Cuban speedster.

The only person who looks more foolish than Gamboa right now is the brain trust who let Rios anywhere near Lightweight again.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone.  Top Rank, Rios’s promoter, has signed their guys into fights they’ve shown evidence of being too heavy for in the past.  It’s fair to say Rios is ultimately responsible for his weight.  It’s also fair to say his promoters and managers should be looking out for him.  When a fighter can’t make weight anymore, especially in this lame day-before weight-in era, then it is insane to keep signing them to abuse their bodies into divisions they don’t belong in.

Fans who were once disappointed by Jose Luis Castillo looking like he hadn’t had a drop of fluid in him for days, failing to make weight for Diego Corrales in their aborted third fight, can at least take solace that Rios-Abril will go on.

Rios blew weight last year before his fight with John Murray, losing his WBA Lightweight belt on the scale, and has been rumored to struggle with weight for some time.  When the fight with Gamboa looked on its way, Gamboa risking moving up two classes from Featherweight, one of the big reasons to like his chances was Rios and the scale.

The scale happened.  Gamboa is working on his contract.  Abril finds out if he can get in work on Rios.

Let’s go to the report card.

The Ledgers

Brandon Rios

Age:
25
Title: None
Previous Titles: WBA Lightweight
 (2011, 1 Defense)
Height: 5’8

Weight: 137 lbs.

Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 135.85 lbs.

Hails from: Oxnard, California
Record: 29-0-1, 22 KO
BoxingScene Rank: #1 at Lightweight
Record in Major Title Fights: 2-0, 2 KO
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 1 (Miguel Acosta)

Vs.

Richard Abril
Age: 29
Title/Previous Titles: None
Height: 5’11
Weight: 135
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 136.05 lbs.

Hails from: Miami, Florida
Record: 17-2-1, 8 KO
BoxingScene Rank: #5 at Lightweight
Record in Major Title Fights: 1-0 in interim title fights
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 1 (Miguel Acosta)

Pre-Fight: Speed – Rios B; Abril B+
Pre-Fight: Power – Rios B+; Abril B-
Pre-Fight: Defense – Rios B-; Abril B+
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Rios B+; Abril B+

Abril has always had the chance to play serious style nightmare for Rios.  He could be a style nightmare for anyone.  Inordinately tall for a Lightweight, Abril has snappy countering ability and knows a lot of tricks.  He’s willing to lean on the neck, bend over at the waist, hold and spin…the whole bag of tricks.  He can get to legging it out in the ring.

Add in Rios’s struggle to make weight and the thought of chasing a taller, aggravating opponent sounds more harrowing than in the original diagnosis.  Where Rios can find some solace is that, while Abril isn’t punchless (he dropped Miguel Acosta a few times), he’s not a lights out banger.  Rios is typically willing to take two to land one, relying on pressure and accumulation to make opponents fold.

Sometimes it happens early, sometimes late, but it usually happens.  Abril has never been stopped but it doesn’t mean he can’t be.  If Rios begins to impose his will, and can keep his wind as the rounds wear on, he is a physical dilemma for Abril.

In terms of intangibles, both fall just shy of the “A” category, Rios for missing weight twice in a row and Abril because, while his career blemishes are close, while there is a case he could still be unbeaten, there is also a case that he doesn’t always know how to close.  Maybe the Acosta win last year was the start of something big.

Rios would be evidence in that direction.

The Pick

With Rios failing to make weight, it's tough not to lean to Abril in the upset.  Abril is a couple scorecards shy of unbeaten and has faced about the same level of foe as Rios.  He's got some solid skill and some sharp counters.  Rios, once he gets going, is one of the game's most skilled pressure fighters.  He might fall behind scoring-wise, but he's the sort who wins fights over rounds.  Choosing not to attempt further weight burn after the initial failure to make weight Friday may end up a blessing in disguise for Rios.  He showed against Murray that his youth can allow him to still fight hard once he’s rehydrated and that will be bad news for Abril.  Ultimately, Rios will be just a tad too physical for Abril and come on strong down the stretch for the late stoppage or decision.

Report Card Picks 2012: 13-3

Cliff’s Notes… Felix Sturm ran over Sebastian Zbik and Sturm really doesn’t run over anyone.  This should put some perspective on how hard Zbik was for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.  Sure, triangle theories are highly flawed, but Zbik has yet to get a win of note and really showed his level on Friday…There’s no report card for tomorrow’s main event.  Being honest, this scribe hasn’t seen enough of Juan Manuel Marquez’s opponent Sergiy Fedchenko.  What is there to see is nothing special and this doesn’t look like a preview worthy fight heading in.  Fedchenko has solid fundamentals but not a ton of speed or power.  Unless Marquez gets old in a day, Fedchenko should hear the ten before night’s end.  

Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at [email protected]

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by cruz1383 on 04-14-2012

what a robbery unbelievable

Comment by Red Cyclone on 04-14-2012

I'm sorry but would I be one of the few who would be laughing alot If Rio's loses tonight? After watching him fight against Miguel Acosta I still think Richard Abril stands a good chance and not because Abril beat…

Comment by Cubanstyle on 04-14-2012

Brandon what happened to.....what happened in New York was a fluke...?

Comment by Scrubber on 04-14-2012

for all the cussing and vile talk Rios doesn't get it at all. Garcia doesn't get it either. just two dumb big mouths disgracing boxing. fight at 140 and make weight wimp!!!!!

Comment by frosty-g on 04-14-2012

this is probably why they were trying to b*m r*pe Gamboa over the contract. if he lost then fine whatever, he was moving up a lot in weight and will still be a very useful fighter to have in the…

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