By Keith Idec
Brandon Rios is about the most unofficial junior welterweight he possibly could be after struggling so mightily to sneak beneath the 135-pound lightweight limit for his last two fights.
That’s probably among the reasons Rios isn’t at all concerned about moving up for his first official junior welterweight fight against an opponent perceived to be bigger and stronger than him.
“I am ready to take a punch from a heavyweight pounder,” Rios said of his fight later tonight against Mike Alvarado (HBO; 10 p.m. EDT). “I don’t do it just to do it. I love my job. I love to fight. I love hitting people in the face and I love getting hit. If a heavyweight punches [me] I will still love it and still have a smile on my face. There is no difference from a lightweight to a junior welterweight, to a welterweight, to a heavyweight. It makes no difference to me.”
The 26-year-old Rios (30-0-1, 22 KOs) doesn’t believe, either, the suggestion that his power won’t accompany him to his new division in their “Boxing After Dark” opener at Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The fearless fighter from Oxnard, Calif., knocked out or stopped 10 of the 11 opponents he faced before settling for a controversial split-decision victory over Cuban-born Richard Abril in his last fight, a 12-rounder April 14 in Las Vegas, and expects to re-establish that trend against Alvarado (33-0, 23 KOs), a 32-year-old slugger out of Thornton, Colo.
“I always had the power,” said Rios, a former WBA lightweight champion. “I could have fought at 140 and had the power. Now I will be fighting at 140 and hitting like a 147-pounder. That power is going to follow me wherever I go. The power never leaves a fighter. I will be ready, 100 percent, and the power will be right there with me.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.