Crossroad Fights For Both Ronny Rios & Antonio Orozco on Friday

Prized prospects all reach that point where they’re facing a boxer whose style could topple their hopes and dreams.

Santa Ana’s Ronny Rios and San Diego’s Antonio Orozco are both near that crossroad junction in separate fights on Friday Oct. 10, 2014. Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio will host the Golden Boy Promotions fight card. Fox Sports 1 will televise.

Orozco (20-0, 15 Kos) faces former world champion Steve “Two Pounds” Forbes (35-13, 11 Kos), a professional boxer who has faced many top tier fighters in his career. He doesn’t possess the speed of his younger days and never really had single punch knockout power, but his defensive experience seems sharper nowadays.

“I was star struck. He’s a fighter I saw on the Contender. He (Forbes) fought my current boss now, Oscar De La Hoya. He got to fight Andre Berto for the championship. He’s a previous world champion,” said Orozco, whose style reminds many of Miguel Cotto. “There’s nothing in the book he doesn’t know. It’s aggressiveness against trickiness. I’m going to have to work with everything that I’ve known from my previous fights. I’m going to have to take that experience and apply it to Steve Forbes.”

San Diego’s Orozco has passed through several levels of boxing IQ to reach this point. In his last fight he defeated former champion Martin Honorio and before that struggled a little bit against Miguel Angel Huerta and was knocked down in the first round. In the second frame he jumped on Huerta and ended the night quickly.

“This is definitely a breakout fight for me,” Orozco said.

Rios (23-0, 10 Kos), whose first name is spelled Ronny, not Ronnie as his mom told me, has wins over Andrew Cancio, a talented desert fighter from Blythe, and former world champion Rico Ramos. Now he fights Robinson Castellanos (19-10, 12 Kos), who has fought many elite featherweights, including Mikey Garcia and Joksan Hernandez, who beat him. But he defeated Christopher Perez, former world champion Celestino Caballero and Alberto Garza. He won the WBC Silver featherweight title from Garza and kept it for eight challenges until losing to Nicaragua’s Rene Alvarado.

Rios faces a good challenge against the 32-year-old Mexican. It’s the co-main event and both Rios and Orozco are managed by Frank Espinoza, who’s guided many world champions including Yohnny Perez, Israel “El Magnifico” Vasquez, Martin “El Gallo” Castillo, Vic Darchinyan and Abner Mares.

Grooming world champion fighters has been a trademark for the Southern California boxing manager. Both Rios and Orozco are near that crossroad where the train is coming and you’ll either beat it, or get smacked.

One fighter on the fast track is Diego De La Hoya, a super bantamweight from Mexicali who is managed by Joel De La Hoya and trained by Joel Diaz. Despite only six pro fights, the nephew of Oscar De La Hoya (6-0, 5 Kos) has super speed, good power and footwork to go with it. He meets Yucatan, Mexico’s Luis Lizarraga (5-2-1, 2 Kos) in a bout set for six rounds. So far he’s passed all his tests and trainer Diaz thinks he should be ready next year for a world title shot if things go right.

Other bouts

Middleweight Dashon Johnson (15-16-3, 5 Kos) of Escondido is looking to snap a three-fight losing streak against Mexico’s touted Antonio Gutierrez (15-0-1, 7 Kos). Johnson is no slouch. Most of his losses came against prospects, contenders and former champions, including Joshua Clottey. Gutierrez is an unknown quantity from Tijuana, Mexico, a town not known for producing middleweights. It might be interesting to see how he deals with Johnson’s speed and defense.

Several other bouts are included. Golden Boy’s president Oscar De La Hoya is expected to attend the fight card that begins at 5 p.m.