After Brandon Rios suffered a lopsided ninth-round knockout loss challenging Timothy Bradley Jr. for his welterweight world title in November 2015, he came to the post-fight news conference at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas and announced his retirement.
Rios sounded sincere and said he had had enough of boxing, especially after having been in so many bruising battles and losing for the third time in his previous five fights.
But not long after, Rios, a former lightweight world titleholder, had a change of heart and said he intended to fight again. He reshaped his team, walking away from career-long promoter Top Rank when his contract expired and doing the same with manager Cameron Dunkin and trainer Robert Garcia.
But the notion of returning is one thing. Getting back in the ring is another story. A winter grudge match with longtime rival and former welterweight titlist Victor Ortiz was discussed but did not materialize and then it was eyed for the spring but again fell apart. Then, after Rios moved on from the proposed Ortiz fight, an April 29 bout in Mexico fell through.
But now “Bam Bam” Rios is scheduled to fight again for the first fight in 19 months. It will come in a 10-round welterweight bout against Aaron Herrera in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card on June 11 (Fox Sports 1 and Fox Deportes, 10:30 p.m. ET) at the Pioneer Event Center in Lancaster, California, PBC announced Thursday.
“This is my first fight in Southern California in almost five years and I can’t wait to put on a show for those fans who have supported me throughout my career,” Rios said. “I’ve always given the fans a great show and I’m planning on picking up right where I left off and being better than ever when I get back in the ring. I’ve been training for a while in preparation for a great victory on June 11.”
Rios (33-3-1, 24 KOs), 31, of Oxnard, California, a promotional free agent now being trained by Ricky Funez, has faced top fighters including Manny Pacquiao, Bradley and Mike Alvarado, whom he finished 2-1 against in their memorable trilogy.
Rios said he made the decision to end his retirement because of an ultimatum by his wife Vicky.
“When I did announce my retirement I was really done with boxing,” Rios said. “But my wife told me straight out, ‘If you retire, make sure you retire because I don’t want you to come back when you are 40-something. If you’re going to come back, do it now. Take some time off and gather yourself but make sure you are sure.’
“When I retired I was in the moment. I thought about it and she was right. I want to give it another go now, so I am coming back. My wife told me, ‘If you’re going to come back, no more last-minute weight loss, be dedicated. No more half-ass preparation.’ “
Rios, notorious for problems making weight, said he has maintained his weight since deciding to return and that he has been around 155 pounds for quite some time, not far off the 147-pound welterweight limit. He said Funez has been a big help getting him in shape.
“Ricky checks my weight every time I walk in the gym. I like that, I need that discipline and someone on my ass,” Rios said. “So far everything is going right and I feel really good. I think I did need that rest. I think I did need to take a step back, relax my mind, my body and now I can show everybody I’m not done yet. I still love the sport and wanted to do it again, give it another shot.”
Herrera (32-6-1, 21 KOs), 28, of Mexico, has won three fights in a row and will be facing his most famous opponent.
“This is a terrific opportunity for me to face a fighter the caliber of Brandon Rios,” Herrera said. “He’s had a great career and fought many champions and I look forward to giving him everything I have. Fighting Rios is a great test for me and I’ll be ready to pass on June 11.”
TGB Promotions’ Tom Brown, who is putting on the card, said he expected an action-packed fight, not a big leap given the kinds of fights Rios has been in.
“Brandon Rios is never in a boring fight. After a long layoff, I expect him to come out firing against Aaron Herrera and I don’t expect Herrera, a rugged Mexican brawler, to back down,” Brown said.
In the co-feature, prospect Mario Barrios (18-0, 10 KOs), 22, of San Antonio, will face Jose Luis Rodriguez (21-9, 12 KOs), 30, of Mexico, in a scheduled 10-round junior welterweight bout.
In the opening bout, a scheduled eight-rounder, junior welterweight prospect Jose Miguel Borrego (12-0, 11 KOs), 19, of Mexico, will face Kevin Watts (11-1, 4 KOs), 25, who will be fighting in front of his Lancaster hometown fans.