By Chris Robinson
It was a little less than a year ago when I got to know trainer Robert Garcia and one of his star pupils, Brandon Rios. Speaking after the final press conference inside of the Palms Casino in Las Vegas for their challenge of Anthony Peterson in September of last year, I couldn’t help but to appreciate the candid nature of each man and was intrigued by what their future together held.
Two days later Rios would bully Peterson inside of the Pearl Theater, scoring a commanding seventh-round disqualification victory after the DC fighter got wild and elected to go below the belt on repeated occasions. It was a confirmation of Rios’ arrival and he hasn’t let up, winning three more bouts since, with his 3rd round knockout over Urbano Antillon last weekend in Carson, California still resonating loudly throughout the boxing world.
Following the Antillon battle, Rios showed an interest in moving to 140 pounds and mentioned WBA junior welterweight champion Amir Khan and interim champion Marcos Maidana as future foes. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum even mentioned Rios as a potential opponent for WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao sometime down the road, a sure tell sign of just how much Rios’ star has flourished over the past year.
The future looks bright for the 25-year old WBA lightweight champion, who is one of the more relentless belt holders in recent memory. Curious as to what his immediate future might hold, I caught up with Garcia earlier tonight and took a look at all of the options.
In his own words, this is what the Oxnard, California-based trainer had to say…
A brutal victory over Urbano Antillon…
“It was a great win. Just like beating Peterson, just like winning the title; because every time he wins it takes him to a different level, a different stage, and I’m just happy for Brandon and the whole team.”
Envisioning Rios-Antillon ahead of time…
“I had no doubt that it was the way it was going to be. I truly believed it was going to take a few more rounds; I didn’t think it was going to be that quick. But Brandon is just too powerful for anybody at lightweight right now. I thought it was really going to be a beating and I thought it wasn’t going to be until the later rounds.”
Concern over Marcos Maidana’s power at 140 pounds?
“Not at all. I know that Brandon is a big lightweight. He’s going to be a lot stronger at 140. He cuts down to make 135 and it’s not easy for him. So I know that being at 140, he’ll be much stronger. [Erik] Morales hurt Maidana and I thought Morales won. He hurt Maidana and Brandon wouldn’t let him get away.”
Trouble with a boxer like Amir Khan?
“So was Peterson and Miguel Acosta. It took Brandon two or three rounds before picking it up with Peterson and it took Brandon four rounds against Acosta. It’s a twelve-round fight; it’s not a four-round fight. So I think it will take four or five rounds before catching Khan, so we got a good six, seven rounds to finish him off.”
Not rushing towards a Pacquiao showdown…
“Right now we still got two, three fights before that could happen. We still got to fight at 135 maybe one or two more fights and then maybe do something else. It’s something that we could think about, a Manny Pacquiao fight. We’re two, three fights away from even being mentioned at that level so of course we would love it.”