By Ryan Maquiñana
Junior lightweight Roger “Speedy” Gonzalez will fight emerging prospect Ronny Rios at a contracted maximum weight of 128 pounds in this Friday’s TeleFutura Solo Boxeo co-feature, according to Gonzalez’s advisor, Steven Feder.
“It’s experience versus youth,” Feder said of the clash between Southern California fighters at the Orange County Fairgrounds. “Rios has never been tested. This might be his biggest step up yet.”
Despite Feder’s exuberance, Gonzalez (27-4, 18 KOs) is coming into the fight an indubitable underdog against the 21-year-old Rios (15-0, 7 KOs), having lost his last three bouts after starting 27-1. In fact, in his last fight seven months ago, he failed to make the 130-pound limit before incurring a shutout loss to Eloy Perez.
If you ask the 33-year-old from Chino he vows that the circumstances for the meeting with Santa Ana’s Rios are far from similar.
“What's different is that I've actually been in the gym,” Gonzalez stated from his training camp at Hollywood’s Wild Card Boxing Club. “I've been training and eating good. I've been cutting weight the right way instead of starting with a month to go. I'm at 131 right now, and eventually, I plan to fight at 126.”
Another change Gonzalez made was in the corner. Jesse Arevalo will assume duties from fellow Wild Card trainer Eric Brown.
“I've been working with Jessie Arevalo,” he shared. I've been on my training and sparring three days a week, doing swimming and plyometrics. I just feel more prepared in all aspects of my camp.”
Most important of all, Gonzalez has regained his fire for the sport. Two years ago, he surprisingly put future two-time featherweight champion Yuriorkis Gamboa on the deck in the second round before succumbing via tenth-round stoppage, and his preparation habits were less than exemplary.
“When I fought Gamboa, I only trained for a month,” Gonzalez explained. “At that time I was kind of tired of boxing. I was fighting for the money. Now I'm fighting for the respect again.”
Now that “Speedy” knows he’s fighting Rios, it’s time for him to log on to YouTube.
“Honestly, I really don't know much about him,” Gonzalez admitted. “I saw him fight at Nokia Theater once, but I wasn't really paying attention. I just know that he's undefeated, and I'm going to fight him next. I'm going to watch some film now on him.”
Not necessarily known for his power, Rios is coming off a first-round blowout of Noe Lopez Jr. on the undercard of Amir Khan’s 140-pound unification battle with Zab Judah in Las Vegas.
Scoring an upset over a Golden Boy prospect will bring Gonzalez back into the public’s consciousness much like another Wild Card regular, Alejandro Lopez, did after shocking Antonio Escalante in March.
Easier said than done, but Gonzalez thinks that lightning will strike twice on Friday.
“I think this fight will show people I'm dedicated to boxing again,” he promised. “Hopefully it will open up doors for me in getting ranked and hopefully, a world title shot. Just look out for me. I'm back.”
Ryan Maquiñana is the boxing correspondent at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. He’s a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and Ring Magazine’s Ratings Advisory Panel. E-mail him at [email protected], check out his blog at www.maqdown.com or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.