Ronny Rios ready to make up for lost time vs. Robinson Castellanos
Unbeaten featherweight contender Ronny Rios is an interesting person in and out of the ring.
Rios rarely initiates a conversation and keeps to himself. When he does speak, he is so soft-spoken that it is just above a whisper at times.
Inside the ring, the 24-year-old resident of Santa Ana, California is a different person, an aggressive predator who rains down relentless punches to the head and body of his opponents.
Rios, who fights Robinson Castellanos in a scheduled 10-round bout on Friday at the Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino in Indio, California, has only fought once in 2014. An injury slowed him down for a few months, but he hopes to end the year on a high note over an experienced foe in the main event of a “Golden Boy Live!” telecast on Fox Sports 1, beginning at 10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT.
Rios’ only bout so far this year was a hard-fought 10-round unanimous decision win over Andrew Cancio on April 14 in Chicago, Ill.
He had a few fights lined up this past summer, but was not able to train or spar due to suffering a pinched nerve in his right arm. After getting medically cleared, Rios resumed training and secured the Castellanos fight.
“I’m very excited to get back in the ring,” said Rios, who is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and managed by Frank Espinoza.
He will face a worthy fighter in Castellanos, who had won 11 bouts in a row before losing his last fight on Feb. 15 to Rene Alvarado. Rios expects a difficult challenge when he steps in the ring against the fighter from Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico.
“I actually wanted to fight him (Castellanos) before his last fight (which he lost),” Rios told RingTV.com in an interview over the phone earlier this week. “I wanted that fight. He’s still dangerous in my eyes. He’s wild. He throws a lot of power shots and he comes out swinging in the first couple of rounds.”
“He’s beaten a lot of fighters, including (Celestino) Caballero and (Alberto) Garza. I’m just focused on now. What he’s done in the past is not going to help him on Friday night.”
Rios officially weighed in at 128 pounds for his fight against Castellanos. He is not killing himself to make weight, but at the same time, would think about a move up to 130 pounds if it does become a struggle to attempt to make weight.
With the level of opposition becoming more difficult, he tries to perfect his craft the best he can in the gym.
“I feel more relaxed because I feel I’m more focused on the now and the future. I’m in better shape now.”
Rios credits his mental fortitude along with the physical preparation before a fight for his success in the ring.
Rios is his usual laid-back self and event approachable during fight week, but his psyche changes the minute he is in the dressing room.
“Once I enter the dressing room (on fight night), I go through a personal change. I can’t relax until the fight and I zone out (so much) that I only listen to certain voices.”
So far, it is a formula that has worked. In a span of 12-14 months, Rios has evolved from prospect to contender. Should he get past Castellanos, look for Golden Boy and Frank Espinoza to push Rios towards a world title in 2015.
But what if Rios gets a win against Castellanos in a dominant fashion on Friday night? Do not look for too much change from Rios.
“Next time, I won’t be too hard on myself.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since October of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Salazar also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing