Is this Brandon Rios’ last stand?

Mike Alvarado, Brandon Rios

Brandon Rios (c) The Associated Press 2013

Brandon Rios has always been a blood and guts warrior. It’s the reason so many fans love him. He always delivers great fights and gives it his all in the ring despite what it may mean for his health and career longevity.

Mike Alvarado, Brandon Rios

Rios versus Alvarado (c) The Associated Press 2013

Rios was thrust into the spotlight after his brilliant performance against fellow brawler Mike Alvarado in 2013. He won the bout via TKO. The bout was so good that a rematch took place immediately after and produced another thrilling fight, however this time he lost via unanimous decision.

Despite losing his first professional fight he earned a fight against the returning Manny Pacquiao. Many fans wondered whether he simply a sacrificial lamb for the returning Pacman or if he could step up to the plate and ruin the comeback of one of the best fighters in the world.

Manny Pacquiao Brandon Rios

Pacquiao versus Rios (c) The Associated Press 2013

Shortly into the fight fans got their answer, this was a showcase fight for the returning Pacquiao. Rios showed a lot of heart and withstood the barrage of punches from the Pacman who was eager to show the boxing world he still had it. Despite a few landed punches against Pacquiao he could not muster any serious offense and lost a clear unanimous decision. Rios was also badly beaten with his face noticeably swollen.

Manny Pacquiao, Brandon Rios

Pacquiao lands a right hand on Rios (c) The Associated Press 2013

This fight won Rios respect in the ring as a tough guy, but it also pinned him into a corner. Tough guys in boxing win the respect of the fans and of their peers, but they are often seen as one-dimensional. They are matched up with superior boxers in order to make the “star” look good, or with elite fighters that need to bounce back from a tough loss. Rios went on to fight another tough brawler in Diego Chaves.

The fight was a toss up, and Rios further illustrated how tough he was by weathering a fight filled with dirty tactics and fouls. It even included Chaves executing a DDT on Rios in the ninth round when the referee disqualified Chaves and awarded Rios the fight.

Rios would then fight Alvarado once again to cap off their trilogy. Rios would easily win the fight against an out of shape Mike Alvarado, however he would soon face his biggest test outside of Manny Pacquiao. His next fight was against the skilled Timothy Bradley.

Bradley Rios.jpg

Bradley and Rios at their presser (c) The Associated Press 2015

Rios would again face an elite fighter that can not only brawl but box with the best of them. Rios was coming off two straight victories and looked confident heading into the fight. Bradley began training with famed trainer Teddy Atlas and seemed poised to give a great fight. The question heading into the bout was would he be able to shine against an elite fighter or would he serve as a stepping stone for Bradley.

Rios Bradley Boxing

Bradley lands a left hook on Rios (c) The Associated Press 2015

Bradley seemed like a different fighter under the tutelage of Atlas, he was incredibly aggressive yet swift and slick. Bradley fought so well that he was able to do something incredibly rare given his style and limited punching power, he got the KO. It was genuinely shocking to see Rios on the canvas, however was this a result of Bradley being that good? Rios not being able to rise to the level of skill? or was it poor preparation from Rios?

Rios Bradley Boxing

Bradley delivers a lethal body blow (c) The Associated Press 2015

Rios in the post fight interview said he was going to retire as his body couldn’t take it anymore. After a two year hiatus he returned to the ring against Aaron Herrera and defeated him via KO. Herrera was scrappy, but overmatched in the bout against a hungry and vicious Rios.

garcia-v-rios.jpg

Garcia and Rios face off at their press conference (c) Jose Cuevas 2018

He will face Danny Garcia on the 17th of February. Danny Garcia is another elite boxer in the same vein as Bradley and Pacquiao who could give Rios a ton of problems. Everyone knows that Rios will give an excellent fight, when has he not? The question is can he defeat an elite boxer? Or are boxers his kryptonite?

The reason this may be Rios’ last stand is if he loses he may very well be relegated to be a perennial brawler that will make the prospects look good or give a “star” a chance to get a W and bounce back. If Rios wants to bounce back he will have to be more than a blood and guts warrior, because it may very well be that his greatest asset may pigeonhole him into a corner he can’t get out of.

 

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