Wednesday, March 22, 2023  |


Murodjon Akhmadaliev stops Ronny Rios in 12th round, defends IBF/WBA 122-pound titles

Murodjon Akhmadaliev takes it to Ronny Rios during their IBF/WBA 122-pound title fight at the Tech Port Arena in San Antonio, Texas. Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

SAN ANTONIO – Murodjon Akhmadaliev stopped Ronny Rios in the 12th round, successfully defending his IBF and WBA world junior featherweight title belts on Saturday.

Akhmadaliev, who is originally from Uzbekistan and now lives and trains in Indio, California, improves to 11-0 (8 knockouts).

Rios was scheduled to face Akhmadaliev on November 19, but had to withdraw from the fight after testing positive for COVID-19. Akhmadaliev ended up facing late-sub Jose Velasquez of Chile, who gave a decent account of himself before losing by decision to Akhmadaliev.

Rios boxed well from the opening bell, fighting a disciplined fight. While he may not have thrown a lot of combinations during the first three rounds, Rios varied his offense, landing lead and straight right hands to the head of Akhmadaliev.

Early in the fourth round, Akhmadaliev landed a punch to the body that hurt Rios, who backed up against the ropes. Akhmadaliev followed up, connecting with a barrage of punches that put Rios on the defensive. To his credit, Rios was able to fight back, landing a series of combinations to end the round.

Rios’ lack of commitment to attack the body of Akhmadaliev backfired as Akhmadiev got stronger as the bout progressed. Akhmadaliev’s punches began taking a toll in the second half of the fight, coupled with Rios’ punch output dropping in each round.

Rios did have a few moments where he would connect with a left hook to the body or a combination, but that was few and far between. Instead, Akhmadaliev continued peppering Rios with combinations, especially to the body. Rios’ face also bore the brunt of the punishment, as it bruised with each round.

Akhmadaliev went in for the finish during the last round. Midway through the round, a barrage of punches dropped Rios to the canvas. After Rios barely beat the count, Akhmadaliev ended matters by going on the attack, prompting referee Rafael Ramos to stop the fight.

After the fight, it was revealed Akhmadaliev hurt his hand. While a fight against WBC/ WBO unified titleholder Stephen Fulton is an option, Akhmadaliev left his options open.

“I will fight whoever the boss (Eddie Hearn) says is next,” said Akhmadaliev, who is co-trained by Joel and Antonio Diaz.

Rios, who resides in Santa Ana, California, drops to 33-4 (16 KOs).


Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing