For the second time in two consecutive bouts, RING No. 1-rated lightweight Brandon Rios has lost his battle with the scales and a shot at the WBA crown even before he entered the squared circle for the fight.
Rios (29-0-1, 22 knockouts) weighed 137 pounds at Friday’s pre-fight weigh-in at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas — two over the limit — while rival, Richard Abril (17-2-1, 8 KOs), was right on at 135 in advance of Saturday night’s HBO Pay Per View-televised clash for the WBA’s vacant belt.
Given an hour to lose the weight, Rios, instead, returned “about 45 minutes later” weighing 139 pounds, according to Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
As a result, Rios was fined 10 percent of his $450,000 purse — or $45,000 — and can not win the belt. Meanwhile, Abril, in victory, can earn the title that once belonged to Rios.
“He had one hour to make the weight limit, but he’s already missed. He weighed in initially at 137, and went up to his hotel room and came back weighing 139. That took about 45 minutes. I don’t what it was, or if his body reacted strangely or he went and ate a pizza. I just don’t know,” Kizer said of Rios, who will pay half of his fine to Abril, and the other, to the Nevada Commission.
“So he was fined 10 percent of his purse, which is $45,000. He of course can not win the title. If Abril wins tomorrow, then he’s the regular champ, but if he loses, he’ll still be the interim champ. Abril definitely keeps his interim belt, no matter what, which is all according to the WBA. Everybody else made weight.”
The former WBA beltholder, Rios lost that honor at the scales before his last fight — an 11th-round knockout of John Murray in December. Rios was made to pay $20,000 to Murray, this, after failing to make the contracted 135-pound weight limit after three tries on the scale and marks of 136.4, 135.6, and, 136.6.
A deal was struck with the Murray camp in which Rios could weigh no greater than 10 pounds (147) more when he was checked at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday at his hotel. After Rios weighed 146.4 pounds on the morning of the fight, his bout with Murray was allowed to happen.
For the matchup with Abril, however, Rios had said that a switch in nutritionists had made a big difference in the weight-cutting issues, having hired Cecilio Flores, who formerly worked with RING middleweight champion Sergio Martinez.
“It was the best decision I ever made. I’m a beast,” said Rios. “I feel so much more energetic and powerful, and I’m not missing meals. I’m never hungry.”
Rios’ trainer, Robert Garcia, could not be reached, but Rios’ manager, Cameron Dunkin, told Yahoo!Sports that he was “stunned beyond words.”
Dunkin told Yahoo!Sports that he was informed that Rios weighed 135 when he went to bed on Thursday and still on weight when he reported to the arena on Friday, this, after having checked his weight on his own calibrated scale.
“When he got to the arena, they told me Brandon was dead on. When I heard that  number 30 or 40 minutes later, I couldn’t [expletive] believe it,” Dunkin told Yahoo!Sports. “I don’t know what happened, but the only answer is he must have put something into his mouth. That’s got to be the only explanation.”
Flores told RingTV.com that “me and Robert Garcia were with Brandon at all times” as he tried to sweat off the extra weight, adding, “it was not a pretty sight.”
“It’s not that he went and ate or anything. He tried to sweat it out. He was shaking and I think that his body sort of went into shock, and we had to say, ‘okay, that’s enough,'” said Flores. “Brandon’s life and his health are not worth the risk of dying or anything. He’s got a fight tomorrow, and his health is more important than anything.”
Still, Flores sounded as if he was baffled by weight-gain of Rios, who is 12-0-1, with 11 knockouts in his past 13 bouts, including an 11-fight winning streak and stoppages in his last four matchups.
“Brandon tried to lose those last few pounds and couldn’t do it. Maybe his body went into survival mode and tried to protect itself, I don’t know,” said Flores. “I’m not a doctor. I don’t know what happened. Maybe his body just relaxed or his stress went up. I can’t really comment. It’s like his body just said, ‘Okay, that’s it.'”
Top Rank President Todd duBoef had promised the winner between Rios and Abril an extra $50,000, but told Yahoo!Sports that only Abril is eligible for the bonus.
Flores scoffed at any notion that Rios simply gave up trying to make the 135-pound limit.
“Brandon loves the sport, and he did what he had to do to try to make the weight. He tried to man up and give it one more shot, and he wanted to make the weight so badly. He did everything in his power, physically, to try to make it, but he’s almost 26 years old,” said Flores of Rios, who turns 26 on April 29.
“I don’t use drugs or anything to try to enhance things at all. Everything was done naturally. He’s just grown out of that weight. He had his vitamins and his rest and everything, and he’s just grown out of that weight. He’s not a lightweight any more. He’s a 140-pounder.”
Junior welterweight Mike Alvarado, (32-0, 23 KOs), of Denver, adn Mauricio Herrera (18-1, 7 KOs), of Lake Elsinore, Calif., each weighed in at 140 pounds for their clash of 31-year-olds. Alvarado will be after his 11th stoppage in his 13 bouts in their scheduled 10-rounder.
Unbeaten lightweight prospect Mercito Gesta (24-0-1, 12 KOs), of San Diego by way of Cebu, Philippines, and hammer-fisted Colombian journeyman Oscar Cuero (15-7, 12 KOs) came in at 137-, and, 138-pounds, respectively. Their eight-rounder will open the pay-per-view broadcast.
Top photos by Naoki Fukuda
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org