It can at times be a cliché, but there are two central stories that just about any fan of Boxing or by extension all of combat sports are familiar with. The first of course centers on a fighter’s rise through the ranks as they garner attention of fans, develop a following, and hopefully conclude that rise by fighting for and winning a world championship. As common as the story of fighter’s rise is, so too is the second story. A fighter’s attempt to rebuild their career after suffering a setback or setbacks, a stage more commonly referred to as “A Comeback.”
Brandon Rios has been a fighter who has endeared himself to Boxing fans with a crowd pleasing style and his willingness to fight anymore. Rios, who at one time held interim/regular champion status in the World Boxing Association (WBA) ratings as a 135lb. Lightweight, has faced several top fighters throughout his career including Manny Pacquiao, Timothy Bradley, and Danny Garcia just to name a few. Although he has not gone beyond the status of a top contender, Rios’ style is one that always ensures fans of an exciting fight. After being stopped in February of last year by Danny Garcia, one may have wondered how much Rios had left in him as a fighter.
The longtime contender however, began his rebuilding process in November of last year scoring an impressive ninth round stoppage of veteran Ramon Alvarez. Now Rios looks to continue his comeback as he will face former two-division world champion Humberto Soto on Saturday night at the Municipal Auditorium in Tijuana, MX. The fight, which will main event a card televised by digital streaming network DAZN is the very definition of a “Crossroads fight” between two veterans.
In Soto, Rios will face a veteran of eighty professional fights and a fighter who much like Rios has faced some of the best fighters of his era. Soto has held world championships in both the 130lb. Jr. Lightweight and 135lb. Lightweight divisions. While both fighters have previously fought at lower weights, this bout will be fought in the 147lb. Welterweight division, a weight class where both fighters have spent their recent careers competing in.
Soto is at a similar stage in his career as Rios having won his last three fights since losing a ten round decision to Antonio Orozco in October 2015. Despite scoring two knockouts in those three wins, those three opponents were not well-known and facing a fighter of Rios' caliber is likely to provide Soto with a stern test. Stylistically, this is an interesting fight between a fighter in Rios who is known for applying consistent pressure on his opponents going against a boxer/puncher in Soto. The key to this fight in my eyes will be which fighter can establish the tempo.
This will be an encounter between two fighters who have throughout their careers shown a willingness to go toe to toe with their opposition. Brandon Rios is the type of fighter that looks to apply pressure from the outset and continues to come forward throughout the course of a fight. Although Soto has been more than willing to mix it up in the past, I believe it will be crucial that he attempt to box Rios and not stand and trade. Humberto Soto has also shown he can be very technical in his approach in the past and this observer feels he will need to execute a tactical fight plan in order to be successful in this fight.
What may lie ahead for the winner of this fight is something that will surely be a topic of discussion not just for those who cover the sport like yours truly, but also Boxing fans. Both fighters are capable of getting an opponent out of there should the opportunity arise and that alone should make this an interesting fight to watch. While what the two fighters have left to offer at this stage in their respective careers is also a topic to be discussed, each has the type of name recognition value that the winner will likely be in line for another marquee fight down the line in the crowded and talent deep Welterweight division.
When a “Crossroads Fight” such as this takes place the question of what the fighters have left in them is logical to ask. At this stage in each fighter’s career, as tempting as it might be to analyze what each brings into the ring for what could be seen as a prediction of what may or may not happen come fight time, it may come down to another cliché of simply who wants it more. We’ll find out when Rios and Soto square off Saturday night.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
Rios vs. Soto takes place on Saturday, February 23rd at the Municipal Auditorium in Tijuana, MX. The card can be seen in the United States on digital sports streaming network DAZN beginning at 7PM ET/4PM PT. To subscribe to DAZN, a list of connected streaming devices, availability internationally, schedules, and to start your free 30-day trial please visit: www.DAZN.com. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the card can be seen on Sky Sports Main Event beginning at Midnight (Sunday, February 24th Local UK time.) For more information about Sky Sports, schedules and availability in your area please visit” www.skysports.com.
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