By Chris Robinson
Ambitious lightweight contender Brandon 'Bam Bam' Rios is now less than three weeks away from his first world title opportunity when he faces off with WBA champion Miguel Acosta at the Palms Casino and Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. It's hard to think of a character in the sport who made as big of a splash as Rios did last year and the 'champion' tag would only heighten his appeal.
At his training camp in Oxnard, California, Rios continues to push towards his February 26th date with destiny under the watchful eye of his chief trainer Robert Garcia. Garcia was instrumental in the 24-year old's colorful 2010 campaign that saw him soundly defeat New York's Jorge Teron, bully previously undefeated Anthony Peterson, and gain some big exposure on the November 13th Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito pay-per-view undercard in Dallas, Texas.
Garcia insists his charge is getting primed for the fight of life.
"He's looking sharp," Garcia told me hours ago. "He's training like never before. He's in really good shape."
As crucial of a fight as this is for Garcia, he has actually been dividing his time between Oxnard and San Carlos the past month as he helps assist former flyweight champion Nonito Donaire in his preparation for his February 19th showdown with bantamweight champion Fernando Montiel at the Mandalay Bay. Garcia insists this is the first time he has ever traveled in this fashion outside of his bases in Southern California but claims it all has been worth it.
"That's what I have been doing. I've been going back and forth," he continued. "But when I'm not here I got good people that stay with Brandon and when I'm not with Donaire I know there are good people with him too. So I don't worry about that."
This is the biggest stage Donaire has ever been on, as his Los Mochis, Mexico foe is seasoned and deadly, but Garcia has always seen something special in the Filipino-American pugilist. A former junior lightweight champion himself in the late 90's, Garcia sees that same special quality within Donaire and says that he has kicked everything up a notch as his camp peaks.
"He's looking sharp," said Garcia. "His sparring has been so good that he came to a point where his guys were giving him really good sparring but it came to a point where, last weekend and yesterday, and they weren't even giving him any competition at all. He's in tremendous shape and he's been really good."