By Jake Donovan
It’s Fight Week and Brandon Rios remains tight-lipped on what the future has in store. The unbeaten lightweight would rather focus all of his attention on his upcoming April 14 showdown with Richard Abril in Las Vegas.
Most of the speculation has centered not so much around who Rios would next face, but at what weight would his future fights take place. It’s hardly a secret that Top Rank hopes to match the Californian up against Juan Manuel Marquez, who appears in a separate bout in Mexico City as part of the evening’s split-site doubleheader.
Should both fighters win, the ambitiously preliminary plans call for a July clash at Cowboys Stadium. The suggestion for such a fight was that it’d take place at 140 lb., even if Rios insists he’s fine making 135 lb. these days thanks to a new diet and different approach to training.
Still, recent comments made during an interview with ESPN: Los Angeles may have very well tipped his hand. Whether or not he eventually faces Yuriorkis Gamboa, Rios made it abundantly clear that the fight will take place entirely on his own terms.
“If he wants a piece of me still, he has to go to 140 now,” Rios insisted during last week’s interview.
Saturday night was supposed to mark the centerpiece of HBO’s spring schedule, as Rios and Gamboa were slated to collide in a vacant lightweight title fight at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Those plans quickly went awry when Gamboa chose to ditch both legs of the two-city promotional tour. The unbeaten Cuban instead set up camp at Mayweather Boxing Gym in Las Vegas and claiming issues with his current contract with co-promoters Top Rank and Arena Box Promotions.
Rios continued to train as if the fight was still happening, but saw his opponent swapped out for the unheralded Abril once it was clear Gamboa wasn’t going to fight. Abril entered the picture during Gamboa’s no-show in Miami. Based in the area, the unknown lightweight raced to the podium and slapped Rios across the face in his greatest efforts to enter the spotlight.
Abril literally and figuratively made his presence felt. The manner in which he went about, however, could prove to be a case of being careful for what you wish.
“A man never forgets when you touch his face,” Rios insists. “I’m ready for Abril. I’m ready to shut him up. He came from out of the shadows. I’m ready to put him in the shadows and shut him out.”
Rios was just as ready to do the same to Gamboa. Whether or not he gets the chance isn’t a matter that will put his career on hold. After all, the fight was never on his radar to begin with.
“I’m not the one calling out Gamboa,” Rios points out. He’s 126 lb and I’m 135 lb. I’m not going down to 126 - that would never happen. He was the one calling me out. He’s the one mentioning my name.”
Still, the matchup was one that immediately caught the attention of the boxing world, even beyond the cult level. According to Top Rank’s Todd duBoef, ticket sales were far exceeding anyone’s wildest dreams for such a fight, but left many on the scene greatly disappointed.
Now that the idea is out there, Rios wouldn’t mind revisiting it when the time is right.
“Of course I would love to fight him. I’d show the world that he ain’t nothing like everything thinks he is. That’s why he got cold feet, that’s why he’s scared. If he wants to fight me, he can fight me. But he needs to man up.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to JakeNDaBox@gmail.comTags: Brandon Rios , Yuriorkis Gamboa