By Chris Robinson
It was exactly a week ago when former lightweight champion Brandon Rios trudged his way towards an unpopular split-decision over Cuba’s Richard Abril inside of the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada. Abril had success by making the fight awkward and ugly with a boxing and clinching style yet Rios’ forward approach was enough to sway judges Jerry Roth and Glenn Trowbridge to favor him over twelve uneventful rounds.
Another subplot to Rios’ weekend was the fact that he again failed to make the lightweight limit of 135 pounds, this time coming in two pounds over at last Friday’s weigh-in. Such was the case in December when Rios was stripped of his WBA title after coming in at 135.6 pounds ahead of his bout with Manchester’s John Murray inside of Madison Square Garden.
The 25-year old Rios has made it no secret that he is done with trying to squeeze his body down to make weight and is now eyeing a move up to the junior welterweight class. And while everyone close to the Oxnard, California transplant has been echoing the same sentiments, one individual recently stepped forward with a completely different take on the matter.
Speaking to FightHype.com’s Ben Thompson recently, strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza hinted that Rios wasn’t losing weight correctly during this training and that he would be able to guide him in a much better direction if given the chance.
“Not only will I guarantee that he’ll make 135 and be an animal the next night, I’ll even do it for free if he’s not,” stated Ariza, known best for his work with Manny Pacquiao, Amir Khan and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Upon hearing of Ariza’s bold claims, Rios’ nutritionist Cecilio Flores seemed at a loss for words.
“First of all, I take no offense to it, but in response to what he’s saying, he doesn’t know what the f*** he’s talking about,” a bemused Flores told me recently. “I don’t know. I don’t know if he thinks he’s a doctor now. To me, it’s funny for him to come out and say that. He doesn’t know all the circumstances of what Brandon went through and for him to just f****ing say that, he’s pretty ignorant.”
Flores is known best by those in the boxing community for his work with Argentina’s Sergio Martinez, the man regarded as the best middleweight in the world, and was brought into this camp to assist Rios. Flores points out that Rios was coming along fine but simply reached a point late in camp where he was unable to lose the last few pounds.
“It was not the fact that Brandon didn’t do what we told him to do,” Flores continued. “He did everything to his ability to do it right. He was eating right, it was just a point where he got stuck and towards the last couple of days it was very hard for him to shed the last couple of pounds.”
And that’s why Flores is so surprised when hearing Ariza’s stance on the matter.
“If it’s that easy, how come Khan doesn’t fight at 135?” Flores asked. “Or Pacquiao doesn’t fight at 130? That just shows his ignorance. Brandon’s getting older and he’s been at that weight for eight years. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Brandon’s ready to move up to 140. Even for the Antillon fight he was having a hard time making the weight.”
Flores did point out that he was only brought into Rios’ camp to help him solely with nutrition and that Henry Castro focused on his strength and conditioning. But Flores says things will be changing and that he will now be having ‘110%’ control of Rios from this point forward.