SecondsOut breaks down the matchup and figures out who will win
By: Mike Sloan: Brandon Rios has never lost a fight in his professional career. Most figure after tonight when he squares off against a fairly late-replacement opponent inside the Mandalay Bay Events Center, he’ll still be unbeaten. Rios, arguably the most ballyhooed of today’s young contenders, has been protected in typical modern boxing fashion, though his level of opposition has been increased as of late, albeit as a snail’s pace.
Opposing the Oxnard native tonight will be Richard Abril, a twice-beaten but quality Cuban contender who should give Rios some trouble. Abril was a terrific amateur in his native country and called out Rios at the cusp of when original “Bam Bam” foe Yuriorkis Gamboa was removed from the bout. Typically, he is entering the contest as a rather sizeable underdog. Not many within the sport think the Cuban will win, but Abril has a sort of confidence entering the bout that’s akin to the underdogs of years past who have pulled off the upset.
The general consensus is that Rios will take care of business and move on to bigger, better fights but Abril is tough. Nothing is a guarantee in this sport, but SecondsOut.com has the answers to the questions regarding Rios vs. Abril and has broken down the fight in every important category. Read on:
Punching power: Abril has never been much of a puncher and his overall record shows that. He’s 17-2-1 with eight knockouts. He prefers to stick and move and give his opponents problems rather than slamming on the gas petal and going for the kill. Rios, though he isn’t exactly a carbon copy of the late Diego Corrales in terms of power, can crack. His 29-0-1 record is accentuated by twenty-two knockouts and ten of his last eleven bouts ended in a stoppage. Advantage: Rios
Speed: Both men have some lightning in their arms and hands. Abril might throw slightly more accurate shots but, after watching film of the two, Rios has the quicker hands. He throws flashy combos and though he doesn’t possess crushing power, his opponents are usually hurt by the quick punches they didn’t see. Their speed is on par with each other, but one man has the edge. Advantage: Rios
Size: Rios failed to make the lightweight limit at the weigh-in yesterday, which is cause for concern. Abril is taller by three inches and has longer arms. Abril also uses his height well where Rios at times tends to plug away and brawl. Rios is the thicker of the two but thickness doesn’t always mean bigger. This one’s a virtual push but the taller, longer fighter has the slight edge. Advantage: Abril
Age factor: Abril is 29 with a massive amateur background. Rios is 25 with a much better professional career thus far. Both men are just entering their prime, though Abril is technically closer to his full prime than Rios. If ever there was a push, this is the area.
Chin: Another virtual toss-up; both men have displayed a sturdy chin thus far. Rios has taken on the better opposition and harder punchers as a pro but then again, Abril hasn’t truly been hurt before and neither has been knocked out. Just like age, this area doesn’t truly have a winner, though it’ll be interesting to see if Abril can handle a clean Rios shot, considering the Mexican-American hits harder. Rios should be able to handle a clean Abril punch relatively well. For that reason alone, the edge goes to one. Slight advantage: Rios.
Experience: Apples and oranges, this category is. Rios, though he hasn’t locked horns with any of the elite of his generation just yet, he has taken on better foes as a pro. He’s toppled Miguel Acosta, Anthony Peterson, and Urbano Antillon. Abril has also beaten Acosta as well as Breidis Prescott and Henry Lundy, though he lost to them both. On the flip side, Abril’s amateur background, in Cuba, is arguably better than Rios’. However, Rios won an amateur championship, was an Olympic alternate, and had over 200 wins. Still, Rios’ professional ledger is shinier than Abril’s. Advantage: Rios
Intangibles: Rios is the highly-touted contender with all the pressure. He was supposed to fight Gamboa but then Gamboa was switched to Abril. Rios also missed weight, which could be a sign of lack of motivation or distractions. He’s the one getting all the hype and he knows he can’t afford to lose to the unknown Cuban or else he’ll be waiting much longer for the bigger money bouts. Abril, on the other hand, has nothing to lose. He’s already tasted defeat in his career so that fear of losing shouldn’t be in his head. He also called out Rios and is determined to prove he’s the better young contender. Plus he made weight rather easily. He’s a smoother boxer but Rios hits harder. Rios is also the “golden goose” so to speak coming in and he will have a massive advantage in terms of crowd support (though the arena will not be anywhere near capacity). It’s also somehow still on HBO pay-per-view, which might add even more pressure on Rios considering he’s the main event attraction and is expected to win. All things considered, there just could be too much pressure on Rios and his legs could give way under all that weight. Advantage: Abril
The bottom line: Though Abril is known to virtually nobody outside of boxing’s inner circle, in reality neither is Rios. Sure, boxing fans know him but the general public has no clue he exists. If Abril wins, it won’t be some sort of blockbuster upset that will seize control of the local news, ESPN or Yahoo. Rios is the better fighter and he’s the favorite for a reason. Still, it’s a vastly more dangerous fight than most believe and Abril is fully capable of pulling it off. Abril will come in, ward off the early pressure from Rios and begin boxing him from the outside. Abril will make things very hairy for Rios and will start snatching up rounds. Rios will charge late in the fight and his pressure will allow him to steal back some of his lost earlier rounds. In the end, the fight will come down to the last stanza and when it’s all said and done, the HBO broadcast team will have it scored for Rios though they’ll acknowledge how close a fight it really was, not being shocked if Abril won it. The official verdict will be Rios winning a majority decision; the scores will be 114-114, 115-113 and a hideous 117-111 for Rios. There will be a minor outcry over the result because many will believe that Abril got robbed and there will be a slight demand for an immediate rematch. Bank on it.
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