Thursday, December 01, 2022  |



Rios’ thrilling victory over Peterson is only the beginning


Brandon Rios changed the shape of Anthony Peterson's face on many occasions Saturday night. Photo / Chris Cozzone-FightWireImages

The best 135-pound fighters in the world who watched Brandon Rios beat the you-know-what out of Anthony Peterson on Saturday night in Las Vegas must be asking themselves the same thing right now:

“Do I really want to fight that guy?”

I’ve known for some time that Rios is one of the most-exciting fighters in the world. He never stops throwing punches, each of which is meant to rip your head off. I just wasn’t sure whether he was star material. Now I couldn’t be more certain.

Consider what he did to an unbeaten world-class opponent: He took away Peterson’s will to win with an attack that was both merciless and breathtaking. That most likely is why Peterson repeatedly threw the low blows that resulted in his disqualification in the seventh round: He wanted no more of Rios and was seeking a way out.

Peterson, extremely confident going into the fight, probably underestimated his lesser-known opponent. And, yes, he played into a brawler's hands by fighting toe-to-toe.

That doesn’t diminish Rios’ accomplishment, though. Champions sense an opportunity and then pounce on it with all the fervor they can muster, which is what Rios did. As he said after the fight when asked why he jumped all over Peterson beginning in the second round, “That’s what I do.”

The result was the kind of victory that opens eyes, that changes careers, that gets people to say, “WOW!” There aren’t a lot of wows in boxing these days.

And, as if that weren’t good enough, Rios did it during his first appearance on a big-time, English-language television broadcast, HBO’s “Boxing After Dark.” He picked a hell of a time to turn in his greatest performance.

An exciting aspect of all this is that Rios is only 24, meaning we’re just getting our first tastes of a fighter with the potential to work his way into our hearts and remain there for a long time.

Flush with success and confidence after the fight, Rios called out 135-pound titleholder Humberto Soto and 140-pounder Victor Ortiz, a hometown rival in Oxnard, Calif. Those are the type of fights he should expect from now on, particularly with Bob Arum as his promoter.

Rios (25-0-1, 18 knockouts) undoubtedly won’t remain undefeated. He might have some difficulty with the best stick-and-move boxers, for example.

I have a feeling we’re going to see a lot more dazzling victories before we see Rios stumble, though. The fire he brings to the ring, combined with very good technique, not only excites fans but also burns opponents.

A fighter like that, a fighter with passion, unusual toughness and superb conditioning who throws a thousand punches a fight has a tendency to overwhelm opponents.

Peterson (30-1, 20 KOs) learned that the hard way on Saturday night and, because of the damage to his psyche, might never be the same as a result.

Only one thing that happened on Saturday night that might be construed as a negative: If Rios was a secret before, he isn’t now. He’s not going to sneak up on anyone ever again.

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]