And when they meet for the vacant WBA 135-pound belt on HBO, the 25-year-old Oxnard, Calif., resident will be disappointed if their fight does not turn into a knock-down drag-out affair.
That’s the fashion in which Rios (29-0-1, 22 knockouts) earned the crown nearly a year ago to the day, when he came from behind to dethrone then-WBA beltholder Miguel Acosta via 10th-round knockout on Feb. 26.
Rios dropped Acosta during the sixth, eighth and last round of the fight, finally cornering his rival and unloading a barrage of blows — the most telling of which was a vicious right hand — that crumpled Acosta at 1:14 of the round.
Rios ended Acosta’s 19-fight winning streak that had included 12 knockouts and stoppages in his previous three bouts. He won despite being dominated in the early rounds and suffering a dislocated joint in his right hand in the eighth round that initially appeared to be a break.
“I was hurt early. He hit me with some good shots,” said Rios, during a post-fight interview. “He is a powerful fighter, but I never quit and stuck in there. I’m a real warrior.”
Rios’s career has also included a disqualification victory for low blows over then-undefeated Anthony Peterson in September of 2010, as well as brawls with Urbano Antillon and John Murray that ended with third, and, 11th-round knockouts in July and December of last year, respectively.
During a Q&A interview with RingTV.com, Rios said that he expects a similar scrap against Gamboa (21-0, 16 KOs) to that which he had against Acosta.
Gamboa will be rising in weight to make his lightweight debut against Rios, whom he will fight for the same WBA belt Rios lost on the scales after failing to make weight for the bout against Murray.
RingTV.com’s Lem Satterfield recently had an opportunity to talk to Rios about the Gamboa fight and other boxing subjects.