By Jake Donovan
News flash: Brandon Rios and Richard Abril do not like each other.
The pair of lightweights confirmed the obvious once again during Monday’s press conference at the Millenium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. The presser/luncheon was put together to help promote Saturday’s pay-per-view co-headliner, which airs live from the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Top Rank President Todd duBoef was detailed with master of ceremony honors while his father-in-law, Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum is still away on vacation. The heir to the Top Rank throne implored all parties to remain civil, referencing the shoving/slapping incident that took place between the fighters last month in Miami.
Orginal Rios opponent Yuriorkis Gamboa was a no-show for last month’s presser in Miami, eventually dropping out of the fight altogether. Abril took advantage of the opportunity in his adopted hometown, looking to upgrade his current status as obscure lightweight titlist. He managed just that, rushing the dais and slapping Rios in the face in a one-hit altercation that ultimately spawned Saturday’s fight.
“Unbeknownst to all of us, things got a little heated in Miami,” duBoef commented to the assembled media on hand. “Hopefully they’ll resolve all of their issues in the ring on Saturday and not here on the dais, because frankly I’m not in the mood.
“I’m going to try to attempt to have a picture between these civil individuals - right?”
Wrong. Such wishes were not granted, as Rios and Abril couldn’t even manage to get through an obligatory photo-op staredown without things getting rough.
Both fighters immediately got in each other’s face, with just enough space left in between for the two to go big dick with one another to see who would blink first. As Rios inched closer and closer, Abril folded his arms across his chest in efforts to show that he wasn’t standing down.
The action was just enough to set off Rios, who shoved Abril and then stared him down from afar as both camps were immediately separated. Further incidents occurred while both fighters conducted post-presser one-on-one interviews with the local media on hand.
Rios and Abril were both relatively civil during the presser itself, though the amount of respect exuded towards one another greatly varied.
“Everybody was asking me about the Miami press conference when I pushed him,” Abril (19-2-1, 8KO) explained in attempting to justify his unprofessional actions last month. “I only heard the “F” word coming from him. I have nothing against Brandon Rios. I went there to let Rios know who I am and who he needed to fight. On April 14, you’re going to see a great fight.”
Rios didn’t seem to buy any of it, nor does he hold his opponent in particularly high regard.
“I’m going to gain my lightweight title back and will be champion again,” Rios (29-0-1, 22KO) insisted. “People have been like, “Who is Richard Abril?” Nobody knows who he is now, and it’s going to be like that after the fight.”
Further escalating the personal angle in all of this is the title at stake in Saturday’s bout. Rios lost his version of the lightweight belt on the scales last December, failing to make weight for his planned title fight with John Murray. Rios still went through with what was downgraded to a non-title fight, scoring an 11th round stoppage to cap an otherwise stellar 2011 campaign.
Rios’ year began with a knockout of Miguel Acosta to win the belt, which he successfully defended once. Acosta was placed back into the title picture, but fell short in his interim title fight against Abril, who enters Saturday’s fight as the defending titlist.
Such status doesn’t at all sit well with Rios.
“I will be a champion again on April 14, no way will I let some unknown guy take that away from me. “I’m going to let this fool know who Bam Bam is. I’m going to knock his ass out and show everyone why he is a shadow and I am a star.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]