Photos and text by Chris Robinson
Oxnard, California- The biggest fight of Brandon Rios’ career is six weeks away as the former champion has his eyes set on an April 14th collision with slick Cuban Yuriorkis Gamboa.
Televised by HBO and set to take place at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, the bout is an extremely intriguing one given the contrast in styles between the two men. Rios is a rugged and physical bruiser who wears opponents down with heavy shots to the body and head while Gamboa fights with much more finesse yet has shown himself to be reckless on certain occasions.
During a visit to his trainer Robert Garcia’s personal facility on Friday afternoon, Rios could be found going ten heated rounds with a trio of fighters who were doing their best to simulate Gamboa’s tricky style.
The former IBF and WBA champion in the featherweight class, Gamboa will be rising up two weight divisions for the bout and will have to rely on his speed and quickness to carry the day against the hell-bent style of Rios.
Xavier Montelongo, Allan Benitez and Joseph Lara played the role of sparring mates on this afternoon and the sessions were certainly worth studying. All three of the pupils had some form of success early with Rios, moving, boxing, and picking their shots, but as the rounds wore on the pressure and debilitating body attack from the former WBA belt holder would turn the tide of the action.
Rios surprisingly is a slight underdog heading into the bout, perhaps because he looked drained while coming in overweight for his December 3rd bout with Manchester’s John Murray, an act that cost him the WBA belt he cherished. For this contest Rios has hired the services of strength and conditioning coach Cecilio Flores, known best for his work with Sergio Martinez, and is eyeing a gradual yet comfortable move down to 135 pounds one last time.
Despite being an underdog, all one had to do was catch a glimpse of Rios in training today to tell how focused and confident he is ahead of his dance with Gamboa.