By Chris Robinson
This past week a definite stir was created when it was revealed that Cuban marvel Yuriorkis Gamboa had come out of the gates a slight favorite ahead of his April 14th date with former lightweight champion Brandon Rios.
Despite moving up to divisions from the featherweight class, odds makers apparently like Gamboa’s speed and quickness to trouble Rios, who surely has some doubters after failing to make weight in his last contest with John Murray this past December, an act that would cost him the WBA crown he had been holding.
Getting his hands wrapped by trainer Robert Garcia this past weekend right before another brisk training session in Oxnard, California, Rios seemed indifferent when asked for his feelings on officially being tabbed an underdog heading into the fight.
“It doesn’t bother me,” stated the 25-year old Rios. “It’s good. It’s even better because I’m going to show the world. You think he’s the favorite? It’s alright. I’m going to show the world that I’m young and I’m ready for greatness. I love my job. It doesn’t bother me at all.”
“He’s been dropped by featherweights,” Rios stated bluntly. “He’s never been dropped by a legitimate lightweight. A real lightweight, a hard-punching lightweight. He’s going to feel that April 14th. The difference why he shouldn’t have came up and why he should never have brought my name in his mouth.
Gamboa surely is a special talent but Rios was quick to bring up the fact that that his 30-year old foe has had moments of trouble with less physically-imposing fighters during his run at 126 pounds, including the likes of Orlando Salido, Marcos Ramirez, and Darling Jimenez, who all knocked him down their respective tussles.
“People think Brandon is just a forward guy, no skills, no nothing; they don’t understand, they’re not in the ring and they don’t know how I do. They’re going to find out. They’re going to see something different,” Rios would add.
If the fight comes down to a bit of a cat and mouse type of chase, Rios surely would welcome it, bringing up his September 2010 and February 2011 victories over Anthony Peterson and Miguel Acosta. Those two fighters had troubled Rios early by boxing and moving but eventually folded under the pressure and debilitating attack of the Garden City, Kansas native.
“Yes, Peterson came out perfect, he came out good, I broke him down,” said a reflective Rios. “Acosta, he came out good, he came out perfect, I broke him down. When you break down fighters like that, those type of fighters, I just don’t see why they have me as the underdog. They don’t see me as a serious fighter. I’m going to show the world there’s nothing different, [he's] just a smaller guy.”
It was alarming to see Rios weigh in for his December 3rd bout with Murray. Initially weighing .6 pounds over the lightweight limit of 135 pounds, Rios looked gaunt and dehydrated as he hit the scales.
Rios is a huge lightweight and with his body growing, an eventual move to the junior welterweight class is just around the corner. But one more visit to 135 pounds must be in order to secure the Gamboa fight and it’s something Rios feels he will be able to accomplish comfortably this time around.
For the Murray fight, Rios had to travel to the city of Temoaya, Mexico, as he trained alongside his friend and stable mate Antonio Margarito, whose rematch with Miguel Cotto served as the main event on the same evening as the Murray scrap.
Rios feels the back and forthing between Oxnard and Mexico threw him off and he’s simply happy to be locked down at home this time around.
“Not only that, but I have my trainer,” Rios stated, pointing to his close bond with Garcia.
“He’s all mine this time. He’s mine and he’s working on me. And we’re getting it down, whatever we need. Over there in Mexico, don’t get me wrong, I loved it, the altitude was great, but it was a different thing. I think I train better at home and I train harder at home.”
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