THE RING’s No. 1-rated lightweight Brandon Rios and Richard Abril appear to be ready to fight yesterday. Their mutual animosity has already sparked semi-brawls at two separate press conferences, which pre-empted a posedown at the third.
All of the above points to fireworks between the two when they clash for the vacant WBA belt on Saturday night in an HBO Pay Per View televised-bout at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas.
As an incentive, Top Rank Inc. President, Todd duBoef, announced the day before the bout that the winner of Rios-Abril will receive a $50,000 bonus.
“Prizefighting is part of boxing’s heritage. In the early years of modern professional boxing, offering a bonus or ‘prize’ to the winner of a fight was a tradition. It added more excitement for the fighters and the fans. We wanted to bring the prize aspect back into fight game and this seemed to be the perfect platform to do it,” said duBoef.
“After personally witnessing their animosity toward each other throughout fight week, I think Rios and Abril will be looking at the $50,000 bonus more as the spoils of victory than as a performance incentive. They can’t wait to go for it and one-up each other.”
A 29-year-old Miami-based Cuban, Abril (17-2-1, 8 knockouts) seems to delight in his underdog status against Rios (29-0-1, 22 KOs), who, at 5-foot-8, is three inches shorter than his adversary.
Rios lost the WBA belt on the scales before his last fight — an 11th-round knockout of John Murray in December, and is 12-0-1 with 11 knockouts in his past 13 bouts.
“He [Abril] is going to run. He is going to try and run away from me all night. He talks about how he’s going to punish me,” said Rios, 25, who believes that Abril will attempt to use his range and fight from a distance.
“If he wants to do that he’s going to have to fight me. But I think he’s going to pull a Forrest Gump. ‘Run Richard, run.’ I’m a lion inside the ring and a lion outside the ring. What I say I’ll do, I do. I walk the walk.”
In the pre-fight trash-talking, Abril has given as good as he has received from Rios.
“I feel very good and I am very prepared for this fight. You [Rios] have been talking a lot of smack. Well, I’m here and not afraid of you. I’m the one who wanted this fight,” said Abril, during Wednesday’s final pre-fight press conference.
“You are not 100 percent Mexican. You talk a lot of smack. I ride horses, listen to Mexican music and speak the language. I am more Mexican than Rios. He doesn’t even understand me when I yell at him in Spanish.”
They share a common opponent in Miguel Acosta, who sandwiched September’s third-round victory over Luis Cardozo between the losses to Rios and Abril in February and October of last year, respectively.
Rios had earned the WBA crown with his come-from-behind, 10th-round knockout of Acosta, whom he floored in the sixth, eighth and last round of a fight that ended Acosta’s 19-fight winning streak.
Abril believes that his triumph was more convincing over Acosta, whom he dropped once in the fourth and twice in the 10th on the way to a unanimous decision.
RingTV.com gathered the opinions of 15 knowledgeable observers as to what they believe will be Saturday night’s result.
Brandon Rios KO 8 Richard Abril: Brandon Rios won’t have many problems with Richard Abril, a fighter who is not on the level of Rios.
Rios’ maniacal style paired with his penchant for absorbing punishment will prove to be too much for the Cuban, who will succumb via stoppage around round eight.
Brandon Rios TKO 8 Richard Abril: Richard Abril seems like a competent operator from everything I’ve seen, but I’ll put it plainly: Richard Abril can’t beat Brandon Rios.
Brandon Rios could beat himself to death on the scale. But Abril isn’t good enough, and hasn’t experienced enough pressure to handle what Rios is going to bring to him.
I’m sure that for a couple of rounds, Abril will keep him away with his length, but once Rios realizes he can’t hurt him, it will be a quick ride downhill for the Cuban.
Brandon Rios UD 12 Richard Abril: Brandon Rios by late stoppage or unanimous decision. Richard Abril is a tall and mobile boxer who will make good use of his height and reach in the early rounds by sticking and moving on the ever-stalking Rios.
However, Bam Bam will gradually work his way in close and do damage to Abril’s body in the middle rounds. Rios will cut the ring off on the game Cuban down the stretch and punish him with crisp inside combinations along the ropes.
Abril is a competent boxer with underrated toughness. He’s also very motivated for this fight, so he might last to the final bell. But the hunch is that Rios stops him sometime between the ninth and 12th rounds.
Brandon Rios TKO 6 Richard Abril: Brandon Rios, sixth-round TKO. Richard Abril is unknown, which sometimes is an advantage. It won’t be against Rios, who has had time to do his homework in the weeks since Yuriorkis Gamboa decided he had other plans.
If a new diet and nutritionist have helped Rios conquer the battle to make weight, he’ll have all of his speed, power, ferocity and energy. Abril might get lucky, but the guess here is that he’ll be sorry he ever talked his way into this fight.
Brandon Rios KO 11 Richard Abril: I think this fight plays out like Brandon Rios vs. Miguel Acosta. Richard Abril will come on early, but Rios will continue to apply pressure and knock him out late. I’m going with an 11th round stoppage for Rios.
Brandon Rios UD 12 Richard Abril: Brandon Rios by unanimous decision. Richard Abril is a good boxer who has shown a reliable chin.
But Rios’ constant pressure eventually will limit his effectiveness during the second half of the fight.
Brandon Rios W12 Richard Abril: Richard Abril is unknown and many people mistakenly equate that to mean he has no chance. He’s lanky with long arms and is a decent boxer with some power.
He knocked Acosta down three times his last time out. I think he’ll give Rios some trouble for a while, but Rios will impose his will and pull out a decision.
Brandon Rios KO 9 Richard Abril: I like Brandon Rios late. Richard Abril’s movement and size will trouble Bam Bam early on. But Rios is a guy who picks up steam as the rounds go on. I like Rios to stop Abril in nine rounds.
Brandon Rios KO 9 Richard Abril: I like Brandon Rios. He’s quickly becoming known as a champion and a force that will be around for awhile. Rios by mid to late round KO over Richard Abril.
Brandon Rios TKO10 Richard Abril: Any matchup that involves Brandon Rios starts with the question of him making the contracted weight, something he’s failed to do in two out of his last four bouts.
In addition, Richard Abril fights well on the backfoot against pressure fighters, and I think he’ll be able to keep Bam Bam on the end of his shots in the early rounds.
However, I think Rios will figure the Cuban out eventually, find his way inside, and wear Abril down toward a late-round stoppage.
Brandon Rios KO 9 Richard Abril: Remember when Greg Haugen said Julio Cesar Chavez, Sr. fought nothing but Tijuana taxicab drivers? Chavez made him pay by keeping him around until he had sufficiently punished Haugen for the disrespect.
Brandon Rios, who did nothing to Richard Abril, got slapped in the face for his troubles. If Rios makes weight ok, I expect him to punish, nay torture, Abril for as long as the interim champ can handle it. Rios by ninth round knockout.
Brandon Rios TKO 7 Richard Abril: You have to like Brandon Rios in this one. I have seen Richard Abril a few times in person, but I am not as familiar with his style as I would like to be.
While the Cuban does have some tools to work with, I feel that there will be no denying Rios, whose aggression, will, and body attack will likely prove to be too much.
I also feel that the fact that Rios is now working with a new strength and conditioning coach, Cecilio Flores, will likely see him coming down to the lightweight limit far more comfortably this time around.
Brandon Rios MD 12 Richard Abril: This pick assumes Brandon Rios makes weight safely; either way, it’s a tough go. Richard Abril is a couple scorecards shy of unbeaten and has faced about the same level of foe as Rios.
He’s got some solid skill and some sharp counters. Rios, once he gets going, is one of the game’s most skilled pressure fighters.
He might fall behind scoring-wise, but he’s the sort who wins fights over rounds. Ultimately, he’ll be just a tad too physical for Abril and come on strong down the stretch for the late stoppage or decision.
Brandon Rios KO 9 Richard Abril: I don’t think Richard Abril is as good all-around as Yuriorkis Gamboa, Brandon Rios’ original opponent. But the Cuban is hardly a pushover.
Abril is coming off a unanimous-decision victory over Miguel Acosta, the same Miguel Acosta who outboxed Rios until Rios broke him down and then knocked him out in the 10th round.
I see the same thing happening. Rios will start slowly because of Abril’s skills, but, taking advantage of Abril’s lack of power, Rios will wear Abril down before taking him out late in the fight. Rios by ninth-round knockout.
Brandon Rios KO 7 Richard Abril: I’ve got Brandon Rios by KO in seven. He’s just too big. Richard Abril doesn’t have the power to keep him off.
The experts favor the rugged Brandon Rios to vanquish Richard Abril, 15-0
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com