Ronny Rios’ career looked finished after losing by stoppage to Robinson Castellanos in October of 2014.
Almost three years and five victories in a row later, Rios dropped in weight and has positioned himself to fight for a world title belt.
Rios challenges WBC junior featherweight titleholder Rey Vargas Saturday night at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. The 12-round bout will precede the vacant WBO junior middleweight title clash between Miguel Cotto and Yoshihiro Kamegai.
Both fights will air live on HBO, beginning at 9:45 p.m. ET/ 6:45 p.m. PT.
After scoring impressive victories over modest opposition that included fringe contenders and former contenders, Rios squared off against Castellanos, a hard-hitting spoiler from Mexico. Unable to deal with the pressure, Rios was dropped twice before the fight was stopped in round five.
Rios put together five consecutive victories, with his notable bout being an impressive unanimous decision over Jayson Velez, who entered the bout unbeaten.
In his most recent bout on May 6, Rios (28-1, 13 knockouts) stopped Daniel Noriega in the fourth round in Las Vegas.
Now Rios is in the biggest fight of his career against Vargas (29-0, 22 KOs), who, in his previous fight on February 25, won the vacant WBC title with a majority decision victory over Gavin McDonnell in Hull, England.
Rios, who resides in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Ana, is grateful for the opportunity he has received.
“(This) means a great deal,” said Rios at Thursday’s press conference. “Training camp is the same as always. It’s relaxed and I’m enjoying it, having fun as I go.
“It was a surprise learning we are going for a title. We’re here and we’ll make the most of our opportunity.”
Vargas will have a height advantage over Rios when they square off Saturday night. The 26-year-old Vargas does possess power, although four of his last six fights have gone the distance.
The 27-year-old Rios is not bothered at being the underdog or dealing with disadvantages posed against him.
“I’ve been training hard. I know they’re going to prepare for my jab and body work and I expect Vargas to be coming forward the first couple rounds.”
A victory over Vargas will put Rios among the elite of the 122-pound division, should he decide to remain at that weight class and defend the title or unify against another beltholder.
With an impressive victory, Rios wants to send a message to all other junior featherweights.
“You want to fight the best and get to a certain level. I (have to) go out there and make a statement. I don’t want to just go out there and fight. I want to make a statement.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV.com since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper, BoxingScene.com and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing.
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Source:: The Ring – Boxing