In an eight-round lightweight clash, Alexander Rios and Tony Aguilar went to war in a rematch of their 2023 battle, ending in a split-decision win for Aguilar on Friday at the Caribe Royale Casino in Orlando, Florida.

The second time around, Aguilar (12-0-1) won a more comfortable decision by scores of 79-73 (twice) and a significantly closer 78-76 over Rios (8-2). This one may have been a wider victory, but no one can say Aguilar did not have to work tremendously hard for the win.

Both fighters entered the first round with bad intentions, trading heavy leather in an ultimately fruitless effort to ensure the fight would not go the distance. Aguilar got the better of the exchanges, landing hard power shots, but Rios, making his presence felt, was far from a heavy bag. 

Aguilar, a 24-year-old from Florida, accelerated early in Round 2, launching a vicious body attack in the first minute of the stanza. Rios showed an incredible chin, unflinching in the face of blows that looked certain to wobble him. By the end of the round, Aguilar’s breakneck pace slowed, with Dan Canobbio observing that Aguilar’s work rate had faded after he had thrown a manic 95 punches in the first round.

Rios, 23, from Puerto Rico, kept coming. He landed a fierce uppercut in the third round and a big left hook in the fourth. Both scored with power punches with such frequency that each immediately erased the memory of the last. At the end of the fourth, the fighters traded bombs in the corner, drawing shrieks from the crowd as they continued to walk through the punishment. 

Still, Aguilar was always the fighter with the higher work rate, and with the two landing at a similar percentage, Aguilar landed a higher volume of shots. As attacks shifted from the head to the body, Nonito Donaire announced on the DAZN broadcast, “At the end of this fight, both guys will be pissing blood.”

Aguilar landed two enormous right hands in the sixth that Rios ate as if they were jabs. Rios’ chin may have amazed, but Aguilar had the better gas tank. He somehow found the energy to showboat in the final quarter of the fight.

Aguilar was the better man in the end, but this was the kind of fight that made it difficult to criticize either warrior. With any luck, their respective next fights will be significantly less attritional than this one.

In the final preliminary bout on the card, junior lightweight DeMichael Harris (11-0-1, 10 KOs) stopped Bias Ezequiel Caro (11-8, 5 KOs) in the fifth round of a six-rounder, with referee Massimo Montanini waving off the fight with 36 seconds left in the frame.

David Garcia (6-0, 3 KOs) scored a second-round knockout against Henry Richard (4-1, 3 KOs) in a scheduled heavyweight six-rounder. … Heavyweight Dainier Pero (7-0, 5 KOs) broke down Jose Mario Tamez (4-4, 1 KOs) in a first-round stoppage. … Natalie Dove (2-0) outpointed Alyssia Lopez, making her professional debut, to earn a unanimous decision in a four-round flyweight bout. … Featherweight Xavier Bocanegra (4-0, 2 KOs) dropped Carlos Andre Dos Santos Rocha (3-4, 2 KOs) twice before coasting to a four-round unanimous decision. … In his pro debut Alexis Chaparro (1-0, 1 KO) banged out Daniel Augare (2-4, 2 KOs) for a first-round knockout in a super middleweight bout to open the action.