By Jake Donovan
Ronny Rios had the last laugh in a back-and-forth war with David Rodela, scoring a dramatic ninth round stoppage Saturday evening at Fantasy Springs in Indio, California.
The fight was as good as it gets for the Solo Boxeo series in present form, which had been a disappointment for most of the year but manages to air the occasional gem every so often.
This would be one of those occasions.
Rios proved his mettle in a pair of tough challenges in 2011 against the likes of Georgi Kevlishvili and Roger Gonzalez. Whereas most other prospects would have wilted in similarly tough fights against either fighter, Rios dug deep on both nights and escaped with his unbeaten record still intact.
More of that was required on Saturday night, as the rising 130 lb. talent found himself behind the eight-ball early. Once a promising prospect himself, Rodela fought with a nothing-to-lose attitude from the opening bell, constantly pressuring Rios and pinning the unbeaten prospect along the ropes.
Rios managed to briefly turn the tide in round three, going on the attack against Rodela. Momentum didn’t last very long in his favor, as the fight’s early pattern quickly resumed before rounds end. It wasn’t until the fifth round when Rios actually looked like the highly touted prospect, capitalizing on a sloppy sequence from Rodela, whose punches were getting wider as the fight went along.
What little was offered by Telefutura’s cameras in round six (thanks to an extended commercial break) suggested Rios remained in control. It certainly played out that way in round seven, a three-minute session shown in its entirety and fought hard by Rios, looking to avoid the upset bug that has run rampant in the sport in recent weeks.
Rodela offered one last hurrah towards the end of the eighth round, resuming his earlier role as the fight’s aggressor. Rios ended the session in a familiar position – his back to the ropes, absorbing punishment while hoping to ride out the incoming.
Surprisingly, the tactic worked even if not entirely by design.
Rios unloaded at the start of the ninth round, under the belief that his unbeaten record was in serious jeopardy. Rodela was rocked early and suddenly found himself on the defensive. No dramatic tide shift would occur for the underdog, as Rios wailed away at his defenseless foe before the referee wisely jumped in to rescue Rodela from further punishment.
The official time was 1:14 of round nine.
Yet another gut check survived for Rios, whose record advances to 19-0 (9KO) with the win. Clearly, nothing will come easy for the Southern Califorina prospect, though surviving these tough tests early will only make him that much stronger once he reaches the contender level.
Meanwhile, Rodela continues to slip further into opponent status. The 30-year old Oxnard native gave it the old college try, but in the end suffers his third knockout loss in the span of 10 months as he falls to 16-7-3 (7KO). His fighting hear can’t be questioned, although it might be time to find a safer way to make a living.
In the televised co-feature, former lightweight titlist Julio Diaz ended yet another faux retirement, fighting for the first time since suffering a third-round knockout loss to Kendall Holt last May.
This time around, Diaz managed to see his hand raised, scoring a fifth round knockout of made-to-order Colombian challenger Henry Aurad. Diaz dropped Aurad twice in the bout, the second knockdown producing the fight's ending at 0:54 of round five.
Diaz advances to 39-7 (28KO) in picking up his first win in 18 months. Winning apparently is contagious, as the 32-year old - who is much older in boxing years - called out Amir Khan, Victor Ortiz, Marcos Maidana and unified 140 lb. titlist Danny Garcia in a hysterical post-fight interview.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox