Bantamweight Rianna Rios, once a top amateur in the country, aims to establish herself as a significant contender in the division on Friday night.

Rios will fight on a ProBox TV card in Washington, serving as the TV opener against Mary Romero in an eight-round bout.

Rios (7-0, 1 KO) expressed her excitement about the fight, which is being co-promoted by her coach Lamont Roach Sr. At one point, Rios was uncertain if she would even turn professional.

“I actually didn't really want to turn pro,” Rios said. “I wanted to be an Olympian so bad, but I was like, it is what it is. I’m just going to focus on other things, but I just had kept getting that itch to fight.”

Rios was considered one of the best in USA Boxing, but her Olympic dream was derailed by life obstacles. She got married and moved from Colorado to the DMV area because her wife is in the military. Financial responsibilities and life outside of boxing hindered her ability to achieve her goal of medaling in the Olympics.

“I was at a crossroads where I didn't have the money to live,” Rios said. “I was a grown adult, married with bills. USA Boxing doesn’t pay you enough to survive or live comfortably. So I had to make decisions.”

Rios turned pro in 2019, a year before the Olympics. She knew of the Roach family from the amateurs and talked to Roach Sr. about training her. She hit it off with the entire team quickly.  Then COVID-19 struck, delaying her progress. She waited more than a year-and-a-half before returning to action and has since built up an undefeated record in seven professional fights, putting her close to title contention.

“It’s a little difficult for females in the sport,” Rios reflected. “I don't have a big name right now, but I do have the skills and I can box my ass off, excuse me. I’m looking forward to really showing that, and people are going to see who Rianna Rios is.”

Rios will face Romero (10-5, 2 KOs), who has fought two of the top titleholders in the division, Dina Thorslund and Ellie Scotney. With a good spot on the card and an opponent with notable experience, Rios is motivated to take the next step in her career.

“I’m opening up the show, so I definitely want to put on a great performance because I know what I’m capable of,” Rios said. “With this fight coming up, it should elevate me to gain more exposure and get my name out there.”