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Brandon Rios a big underdog for Danny Garcia fight

Brandon Rios Danny Garcia

By Dan Ambrose: Brandon ‘Bam Bam’ Rios (34-3-1, 25 KOs) could be on the brink of another retirement with his fight this Saturday night against Danny ‘Swift’ Garcia (33-1, 19 KOs) on Showtime at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Rios, 31, is a heavy underdog for this fight, and he’s been handpicked by Garcia as the sacrificial lamb. Garcia using the once popular Rios as a tune-up level opponent to get him ready for bigger fights against quality opposition in the 147 lb. weight class. In other words, Garcia is using former WBA lightweight champion Rios in the same way he used journeyman Aaron Herrera in his recent comeback after being retired for 2 years. You can understand Garcia wanting to take a soft opponent considering he’s been out of action for 11 months following his loss to Keith Thurman last March.

Garcia, 29, said he wanted to take the year off to rest and spend some of the money that he’s made in his 11-year pro career. It’s never a smart idea for fighters to abruptly ease off on their careers and take a year or more off from boxing unless their name is Floyd Mayweather Jr. We probably won’t see how much ring rust Garcia has accumulated when he gets inside the ring with Rios, because he’s probably not a good enough fighter to show that. It’ll take a good fighter like Shawn Porter to show how much Garcia has lost from his game. Unfortunately, Porter is not someone that Garcia is interested in fighting.

Garcia has always shown himself to be a calculated fighter when it comes to the type of opponents he faces. So instead of facing the likes of Porter, Garcia faces fighters like Rod Salka, Samuel Vargas, Paulie Malignaggi and Mauricio Herrera. Garcia wants to fight Thurman in a rematch. That’s who he is ultimately shooting for. Garcia is not interested in fighting IBF welterweight Errol Spence Jr., WBA World welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse or the winner of the Jeff Horn vs. Terence Crawford fight. Those fighters might as well be invisible, because Garcia is not interested in fighting them. Like I said, Garcia is VERY calculated when it come to the type of opponents he faces.

“I’m going to take advantage of every opportunity,” Rios said. ”This can make or break me. There’s no weight issue at all. I’m perfectly on weight right now. I’m perfectly fine health wise; there are no injuries. I’m 100 percent ready,” Rios said.

Rios isn’t saying what he’ll do if he loses to Garcia on Saturday. I guess that’s an off limits question with Rios. It’s hard to picture Rios continuing his boxing career if he’s blown out by Garcia in an early knockout. Rios might choose to retire again for a while. I can’t see Rios staying retired, because he’s got a name and there will be fighters interested in facing him due to his name recognition with the casual boxing fans.

Rios’ weight is perfect for the fight, which is a rarity for him. In the last 7 years of Rios’ career, he’s looked heavy going into his training camps, and he’s been forced to take off a lot of weight to get ready for his matches.

It’s been a long time since Rios was a relevant fighter in the sport. Even at his best from 2008 to 2011, he was never truly tested by the best fighters. Rios’ gained some popularity with his fights against Top Rank fighters Mike Alvarado, Tim Bradley and Manny Pacquiao. That was when Rios was one of Bob Arum’s Top Rank guys. The promoter put him in with Alvarado 3 times until the boxing public had seen enough of those 2 guys fighting each other. Rios had a couple of controversial fights that he should have lost to Diego Chaves and Richard Abril. Those fights should have been losses for Rios. With good judging and/or quality officiating, Rios would have lost to Chaves and Abril.

Rios should be coming into the Danny Garcia fight this Saturday with a 3-5 record in his last 8 fights instead of a 5-3 record. It’s still a bad record to be 5-3, but it doesn’t tell the true story. The reality is Rios has been getting beaten up and out-boxed for the last 6 years, and he’s more of a journeyman level fighter at this point than a contender. That’s obviously why Danny Garcia and his trainer/father Angel Garcia agreed to the fight. This is the perfect opponent for them, and it stays in line with the type of opposition they’ve been feeding off of.

“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,” Rios said.

Rios isn’t likely going to get back to the top, because he was never there in the first place at 147. Rios never proved himself capable of being at the top of the welterweight division. After Rios moved up to the 147 lb. weight class in November 2013, he was used as a tune-up opponent for Manny Pacquiao to fight after he had been knocked unconscious in his previous fight against Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012. Pacquiao effortlessly beat Rios by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision. It was so one-sided that Pacquiao was coasting in the last half of the fight, not going all out because it was such a mismatch. That was Pacquiao coming off of an 11 month layoff, and he still made it look easy beating Rios. In Rios’ other fights at welterweight, he beat Diego Chaves, Mike Alvarado and Aaron Herrera. Those were not top level welterweights. Rios lost to Tim Bradley by a 9th round knockout in 2015, and then retired after the defeat. Rios’s record since moving up to the 147 lb. weight class is 3 wins and 2 losses. One of the wins was the 9th round disqualification victory over Diego Chaves in August 2014. Rios was losing the fight with 1 round to go when the referee Vic Drakulich suddenly stopped the fight and disqualified Chaves for him throwing an elbow. Chaves didn’t appear to throw elbow. Never the less, Drakulich disqualified him and gave Rios the win. He was behind in the fight. Chaves was also deducted a point in round 3 for holding and another point in round 8 for head-butting. Chaves was up against in that fight when it came to the way the referee was coming down hard on him from the very start of the fight. With a different referee working the fight, Chaves would have likely easily won the contest.

Rios is not a world class fighter. He’s more of a journeyman class fighter, and that’s why he’s been picked out by Team Garcia. They need a victory over a recognizable name to stay relevant in boxing. They have no interest in fighting Shawn Porter or Errol Spence. They want a name that’s recognizable. Garcia is just waiting on the Thurman rematch, and unfortunately he made need to wait until 2019 for that fight to happen. Thurman has said that 2018 is a “get back year” with him facing contenders ranked from No.7 to 15. Garcia is ranked in the top 5, so he’s out of the picture.

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