At his best, Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios was a lightweight world titleholder and a fan favorite for his all-action, unrelenting style.
It has, however, been years since Rios has been at his best. Having moved up to junior welterweight and then welterweight, he is 3-3 in his last six fights since 2013, including a one-sided decision loss to Manny Pacquiao (after which Rios tested positive for a banned substance) and a similarly one-sided ninth-round knockout loss to Timothy Bradley Jr. that sent him into retirement in late 2015.
But to virtually nobody's surprise, Rios exited a 19-month retirement in November to knock out journeyman Aaron Herrera in the seventh round. From that victory, Rios landed a fight with former two-division titleholder Danny Garcia, whom he will meet in the 12-round main event Saturday on Showtime (10 p.m. ET) at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Rios (34-3-1, 25 KOs), 31, of Oxnard, California, has a well-known name to boxing fans, and it figures to be an action fight for as long as it lasts. But Rios is a huge underdog. There's a reason Garcia's team selected him as the opponent as Garcia returns from his first defeat, a close decision loss to Keith Thurman in their heavily-hyped welterweight world title unification fight 11 months ago.
But to Rios it's critics be damned. He believes he still has something left and aims to prove it against Garcia (33-1, 19 KOs), 29, of Philadelphia.
"I'm going to take advantage of every opportunity. This can make or break me," Rios said at Thursday's final news conference. "There's no weight issue at all. I'm perfectly on-weight right now. I'm perfectly fine health-wise; there's no injuries. I'm 100 percent ready.
"In the past I was immature and just being a kid and being a dork and just going with heart and balls - that's what I was doing it with. But now I want to get back to the top and I know what it takes to get there. I don't care what the critics say because at the end of the day that's what they are, just critics. It's all good. I can tell you right now I'm in shape. Everyone knows the way I fight. Going all out is my style. I'll walk through brick walls to get the victory. Everyone will see on Saturday night the new and improved Bam Bam."
When Rios came out of retirement, he had parted ways with longtime promoter Top Rank, manager Cameron Dunkin and trainer Robert Garcia (no relation to Danny). He went with adviser Al Haymon and found trainer Ricky Funez by Googling "Southern California boxing trainers."
Although Rios defeated Herrera with Funez as his trainer, he and Garcia split amicably and remained friends. When Rios got the opportunity for a much bigger fight with Garcia, they got back together. It's a pairing Rios believes can make the difference between winning and losing.
"Robert Garcia has always been my brother. He's a brother from another mother," Rios said. "It felt great to be back with Robert Garcia and I'm just ready for the fight now. Him and (assistant trainer) Donald Leary have me confident in myself, and that's the most important thing."
Garcia, one of boxing's top trainers, welcomed Rios back with open arms.
"Brandon is like my little brother and he's definitely part of the family," Garcia said. "I've always been in touch with him even when I wasn't training him. When we agreed to team up again, the promise was that he had to stay healthy and train hard and show us that he wants to be champion again. Since that day, he's been on a mission. He's doing it the right way."
Rios and Robert Garcia know that they have an uphill climb against Danny Garcia.
"Danny's a strong fighter and he has power in both hands. He's a great counter-puncher," Rios said. "One thing I like is he doesn't move or run. He likes to bang it out, and that suits my style better. But if he does run, we'll be ready for that too. I sparred with young guys, so I'm ready.
"As long as I beat Danny Garcia, I know that it puts me back to the top of this division. I'm here again and I'm doing it right this time. I want to make the most of this part of my career. I don't want to ever wonder 'what if?'"
Said trainer Garcia: "Danny Garcia is a great two-division world champion. We expect him to be confident and I'm sure he's training hard to get a good win. Brandon is going to be motivated to give everyone a great fight. His mind set is to go out and beat Danny Garcia and that's what he's going to do. His confidence is like never before. I see the same Brandon that we've seen in the best moments of his career."
Benavidez vs. Gavril II
In the co-feature, super middleweight world titleholder David Benavidez (19-0, 17 KOs) and Ronald Gavril (18-2, 14 KOs) will meet in a rematch of their action-packed brawl that took place Sept. 8 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Benavidez, 20 at the time, survived a 12th-round knockdown and escaped with a split decision victory as he was crowned the youngest 168-pound world titleholder in division history.
Benavidez, 21, of Phoenix, had some bold words for Gavril, 31, a Romania native fighting out of Las Vegas, at the final news conference on Thursday.
"I'm going to put Gavril into retirement after this fight. I'm going to knock him out," Benavidez said. "He's not going to want to box again after I get done with him. He dropped me but I wasn't hurt at any point of that fight. I got back up and smiled. I did not feel his power at all.
"It wasn't a tough decision to give him a rematch because it was a great fight. I just want to give the fans the fights they want to see. They said the first one was a war. Let's make this one a war too. This time, there's going to be a little bit more boxing. I really want to put this guy away so in order to do that, I need to step up every part of my game."
Gavril thought he won the September fight and aims to make it official this time.
"In the first fight, I proved to everybody that I have the skill and the power to be the best in this division," said Gavril, who is promoted by Floyd Mayweather. "I thought that I won the fight, especially with the knockdown. So now, I had more than eight weeks to prepare for this fight when I only had four weeks for the first fight. I'm better now.
"I was not surprised Benavidez gave me the rematch because it was such a good fight. I think Benavidez talks too much. He said before the first fight that he was coming to stop me in four rounds or five rounds. He cannot stop me. And now, he said the same thing before this fight. He can't do that."
Robinson vs. Ugas eliminator
In the opening bout of the tripleheader, Ray Robinson and Yordenis Ugas will meet in a welterweight world title elimination fight that will move the winner a step closer to a mandatory shot at the 147-pound belt held by Errol Spence Jr. (23-0, 20 KOs).
Robinson (24-2, 12 KOs), 32, of Philadelphia, and Ugas (20-3, 9 KOs), 31, a Cuban defector fighting out of Miami, Florida, are both confident.
"I did all of the hard work in the gym with my team. This is the easy part," said Robinson, who has won 13 fights in a row since back-to-back decision losses to Shawn Porter, who went on to win a world title, and Brad Solomon in 2009 and 2010, respectively. "I can box with a blindfold on. That's the one thing I know how to do -- fight. On Saturday, all of my hard work is going to pay off.
"I'm an old school fighter. I'll fight people in their grandma's back yard if I have to. It doesn't matter who I'm fighting. I'll just do it Kimbo Slice-style. Once we conquer Saturday, we are supposed to fight Errol Spence and even if that doesn't happen, we're looking for a world title. Errol Spence, (Keith) Thurman, I'm ready to rock."
Said Ugas, who won a 2008 Olympic bronze medal and has won five fights in a row: "Moving up from 140 (pounds) to 147 in 2016 has been great for me. Putting on the extra weight only makes me stronger. I'm ready to fight Robinson. I feel 100 percent and after I fight him on Saturday, I'm looking forward to fighting Spence if I'm successful. I'm going to jump on the fact that I have length and reach on him. I have the height advantage. I can find a way to come in and attack the body first. This is definitely the biggest fight of my career."
Should you block ads? Adblocker