Through 19 fights, featherweight prospect Ronny Rios has experienced and overcome adversity against a variety of styles. Has it prepared the 22-year-old from Santa Ana, Calif., for the world stage? After this Friday, when he meets former WBA junior featherweight titleholder Rico Ramos in the 10-round main event of Shobox: The New Generation, the world will know.
As that realization is verbalized to Rios, the young fighter says he’s overcome with joy.
“Just hearing you say those words brings a smile to my face,” Rios (19-0, 9 knockouts) tells RingTV.com. “I’ve never taken any opponent lightly, but for some reason I’ve gotten up more for this one than I have for any other fight, including the amateur days. Just being on ShoBox, I know this is an opportunity to showcase my skills and the world’s gonna be watching. I not only want to win convincingly and spectacularly, I also want to give the fans a very interesting fight because that’s what they want to see.”
Rios was a decorated amateur, having won the National Golden Gloves title in 2007 at 119 pounds and a bronze in the 2008 Olympic trials after a close loss to fellow prospect Gary Russell Jr. just a short time after putting on gloves for the first time.
He was signed by veteran manager Frank Espinoza before turning pro in 2008, and then signed with Golden Boy Promotions the following year, quickly becoming a staple of Telefutura’s Solo Boxeo and Golden Boy’s Fight Night Club.
So far Rios has registered wins over quality journeymen Guillermo Sanchez, Roger “Speedy” Gonzalez, and in his last bout in July, a ninth-round technical knockout of former Manny Pacquiao sparring partner David Rodela.
Yet against Ramos (21-1, 11 KOs) of Pico Rivera, Calif., Rios is stepping way up in class.
Ramos, 25, won the title in July of 2011 with a one-punch, come-from-behind knockout of Akifumi Shimoda, pulling the fight out of the fire in the seventh round after winning just one prior round on two of the three scorecards. Ramos promptly lost the title six months later after a sixth-round knockout against Guillermo Rigondeaux, but rebounded with a majority decision over previously unbeaten Efrain Esquivias in June.
“I haven’t seen too many videos of him, but from what I have seen, he likes to move around and make you look bad,” said Rios. “We’re not going just off that, because maybe he’s trying to prove that he’s as big as I am. There’s two different styles that we’ve been training for, the first one obviously is the boxing one, because we know he’s going to run around and try to jab and load up on that hook. We’ve also been practicing on him coming forward and trying to make a statement towards us, so we got two different game plans for him.”
Rios says that, despite stepping up in class, training has been business as usual at the TKO Boxing Club in Santa Ana.
“Believe it or not, we always train to the fullest,” said Rios, who works with young upstart trainer Hector Lopez. “I think we got more mentally prepped for this fight than any other fight, but as far as the drive, nothing has changed. We went all out, just like every other fight.”
The show, which will feature Daquan Arnett (9-0, 6 KOs), of Orlando, Fla., against Brandon Quarles (10-0-1, 2 KOs) of Alexandria, Va., in the 8-round junior middleweight co-feature bout, will air on Showtime this Friday night (11:15 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast) as part of a free preview weekend of the premium cable network.
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMA News. He is also a member of The Ring ratings panel and can be reached at [email protected] An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.