As far as body language is concerned, it was a small victory for the 25-year-old Rios (28-0-1, 21 knockouts), who defends his WBA title against the 26-year-old Murray (31-1, 18 KOs) on the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito undercard on Saturday.
When their staredown ended at Thursday’s press conference at BB King’s Restaurant, Murray, of Manchester, England, backed away, smiled and extended his right palm in an attempt to shake hands.
But Rios refused. Instead, he locked a basilisk glare on Murray, placed his right thumb beneath his own neck, and slashed it sideways.
“I saw fear in his eyes, you know? That’s why it’s got me so hyped, because right now, I hate him. I don’t want no parts of him. We’re going to fight. I’m ready to battle. I’m not ready to be your friend. I’m not here to shake your hand,” said Rios, an Oxnard, Calif., resident who is fighting in New York for the first time in his career.
“As my opponent, you should be the same way too. You should talk s__t to me. I’m going to talk s__t to you, so you should talk s__t back to me. I’m not your friend right now. I hate you. So when I saw that he wanted to shake my hand, I’m like, ‘I’m not going to shake your hand, dude.’ It’s battle time, it’s not f__king friend time.”
Murray is coming off of the first loss of his 32-fight career in July, an eighth-round knockout loss to Kevin Mitchell (32-1, 24 KOs) during which Murray was floored in the final round. Murray had won six of his previous seven victories by knockout before falling to Mitchell.
Rios and THE RING’s No. 1-rated featherweight Yuriorkis Gamboa are being targeted to participate in a double-header on Jan. 28 as a precursor to their potential clash later on in 2012.
Top Rank CEO Bob Arum told RingTV.com earlier this month that he was in discussions with HBO regarding a matchup between Rios and Gamboa (21-0, 16 KOs) that date. If not, Rios wants to rise into the junior welterweight ranks.
“Most likely, it’s my last fight at lightweight. We’ve been talking about it being my last fight at 135. If there’s another fight at 135, like if Gamboa moves up, and that’s worth my while to stay, then I’ll stay. But if not, I’m going to 140 for sure,” said Rios.
“It hasn’t been really difficult to make the weight, but if I want to challenge myself and improve myself and get to the next level, then I need to move up in weight. There’s nobody at 135 that can handle my pressure and who can stand up to what I can do.”
Managed by Cameron Dunkin, Rios is trained by Robert Garcia and will first pursue his fourth straight knockout, his 11th win in a row and his 10th stoppage victory during that run against Murray on the undercard of a main event between between RING No. 1-rated junior middleweight and WBA beltholder Miguel Cotto (36-2, 29 KOs) and ex-beltholder Antonio Margarito (38-7, 27 KOs).