By Chris Robinson
On Thursday, news broke that IBF/WBA junior welterweight champion Lamont Peterson had opted for a rematch with former champion Amir Khan, who he defeated this past December in an excellent bout and one of the 2011's more telling upsets.
Peterson-Khan II will be going down at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 19th and it was surprising for some to see the Washington, D.C. native opt for the rematch, as he also had been eyeing a lucrative two-fight deal from Top Rank that included a July 14th clash with Mexico City stalwart Juan Manuel Marquez.
The buzz on the second Peterson-Khan fight is very high and upon hearing the news I caught up with one man who will certainly have his eye on the fight, former WBA lightweight champion Brandon ‘Bam Bam’ Rios.
“I think Peterson’s going to beat him again,” Rios stated. “Because I think it’s going to be a little bit different this time, because the first time he did what he did and it worked out very well. I think he’s going to pursue that again and maybe be more effective.”
Of course there was another reason for getting Rios on the phone outside of his opinion of the second Khan-Peterson melee.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, knowing fully well that Marquez is now without a dance partner for his proposed July 14th return to Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, Texas, has made it clear that he still plans on placing the lineal lightweight champion on that date against somebody else.
Rios is presently rumored to be facing off with Cuban marvel Yuriorkis Gamboa on April 14th at the Mandalay Bay yet he couldn’t hide his enthusiasm towards facing Marquez afterwards.
“I would love a fight like that,” Rios said bluntly. “I would love to fight that guy. If they do Gamboa, whatever happens, I would love that fight. I’ll leave that up to my manager; I let him take care of all the business like that and everything. If that’s the best move we’ll do it but I would love to fight somebody like Juan Manuel Marquez.”
Marquez pumped new life into his career this past November with a spirited performance against Manny Pacquiao in a trilogy bout that left the crowd in disagreement as to who the winner was yet again. And while Marquez would end up losing a split-decision, he was very effective with his counter-punching throughout the bout and is still a threat at 38 years old.
Rios too recognizes the danger is such a matchup.
“He’s very smart, very talented, and when he throws his punches he throws to make sure he lands; he’s very accurate,” Rios continued. “A fight like that, you just got to watch out, always stay on your toes, and be ready for whatever he brings because Marquez is going to come and he’s going to come to win.”
But first things first, as Rios doesn’t want to look ahead of himself. The unbeaten Gamboa is an enigma all his own and Rios knows he can’t cut any corners with that assignment.
Rios lost his WBA title on the scales this past December when he came in .6 pounds overweight for his bout with John Murray and is looking to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen again.
“Right now training is great,” Rios said, speaking on his camp in Oxnard, California. “It couldn’t be any better. The strength and conditioning, the nutritionist, all that stuff is working out very well. Weight is coming off perfect right now. I feel strong and it feels great.”