This Saturday, as part of a co-feature on HBO, Brandon Rios 29-0-1  will face Richard Abril Might Abril be able to wipe this fat grin off Rios' face on Saturday night? Wylie says it's not near impossible.
17-2-1  in a lightweight bout at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, while over in Mexico - at the New Mexico City Arena - Juan Manuel Marquez will take on Serhiy Fedchenko for the interim WBO junior welterweight title. If Marquez and Rios prevail in their respective bouts, their respective styles could result in a potential fight of the year tear-up between the two in the near future.
Just over a month ago, the landscape for both Brandon Rios and Juan Manuel Marquez appeared a lot different. Rios - who now finds himself going in with a Cuban of a different kind - should have been facing speed demon Yuriorkis Gamboa, while Marquez - who could have been facing long time nemesis and number one ranked welterweight Manny Pacquiao in a fourth meeting between the two - now finds himself embroiled in sort of a homecoming bout against a relatively unknown fighter.
Admittedly, I have not seen an awful lot of Richard Abril and Serhiy Fedchenko. At 5' 11'', Abril is very tall for a lightweight, which he puts to good effect by combining a decent jab, intelligent footwork and good upper body movement [think of Lucian Bute in terms of the upper body movement]. It would not be outrageous to suggest he is the more refined fighter in the classical sense than Rios. The defeats on Abril's record came about as a result of two closely contested split decisions, the first, against former Amir khan conquerer Breidis Prescott in 2008, and the second, against Hank Lundy in 2010. Abril insists he should have received the nod both times.
Serhiy Fedchenko is probably the more accomplished fighter of the two lesser knowns. Fedchenko is somewhat reminiscent of recent Nonito Donaire spoiler Omar Narvaez - nothing too fancy, just good solid textbook technique backed up by a decent boxing brain. However - like Narvaez against Donaire at the higher weight - Fedchenko doesn't possess the power or spark to really trouble his opponents [he has only two clean knockouts in his career]. Fedchenko's biggest night thus far, came as a result of a hard-fought victory over a long in the tooth Demarcus Corley in 2010 - a struggle for the Ukranian.
While there is a little uncertainty surrounding the in-ring behaviour of Abril and Fedchenko, there is none with regards to their opponents - we know how Marquez and Rios will operate. It is for this very reason then, that I believe Brandon Rios will have the more difficult task on Saturday night; and not just because Marquez is the superior fighter either.
Not too long ago, the superb Frank Lotierzo wrote a fascinating piece on David Tua, and in particular, the reasons why Tua was never considered a great swarmer. In the article Frank described some of the characteristics a great swarmer must posses. Among them were a great chin and one punch fight ending power - which Tua had in abundance. Yet, he was still not considered a great swarmer. The reason for this being that Tua did not, or could not employ great head movement along with distance shortening footwork which would have enabled him to cut off the ring better on his opponents.
I believe Brandon Rios - who is considered a swarmer- is missing more vital components that go with pressure fighting than David Tua ever did. When I look at Rios, I don't see much in the way of head movement, footspeed, one punch ko power [he has accumulative power] or discipline [in the ring and out - his weight may continue to be a problem]. Thus far, Rios has been well matched against fighters like Urbano Antillon and John Murray, who oblige him by standing right in front of him - a gift for a pressure fighter. Against Miguel Acosta, Rios had to come from behind early - Acosta was giving Rios nightmares with his boxing until Rios eventually wore him down. Simply put, I don't think the undoing of Rios necessarily has to come at the hands of a great fighter - never mind a Sugar Ray Robinson type talent, the second coming of Sugar Ray Seales would likely be enough. Don't get me wrong, Rios is an entertaining fighter - he is likeable and he will always give you his all - but I want to see him in there with fighters who are not just going to stand toe to toe with him. If Rios is indeed the pressure fighter everyone says he is, then he should be able to walk through Abril without difficulty.
In there lies the problem.
Rios is a lot like Robert Garcia stablemate Antonio Margarito. Rios is a better combination puncher and has more speed, but does he possess the chin of Margarito? For a pressure fighter like Rios who offers little head movement and whose defense equates to him coming forward to get his own punches off, he better have a cast iron chin like Margarito, otherwise his flaws will be exposed sooner than we think - dare I say maybe on Saturday night?
Probably not. While I think the fight will be a lot more competitive than most, Rios will likely have the superior stamina and will finish the fight stronger. Abril will definitely cause some early problems due to his length - namely his jab, which looks accurate on film. However, I'm not convinced Abril has the mental toughness or discipline to stay composed over the distance in what is undoubtedly the biggest night of his career. Because of Abril's low knockout percentage, a stoppage win seems highly unlikely and what with Rios' constant forward momentum, it's hard to envision Abril securing a decision win, especially with one eye on Juan Manuel Marquez as a potential opponent. Oh right, Marquez!
Barring an absolute disaster, I fully expect Marquez to get the win on Saturday night. While Fedchenko is no Likar Ramos, he is not in Marquez' class either. I can see this fight looking a lot like the Donaire-Narvaez fight, with Marquez being the busier fighter throughout. By the middle rounds, I think Marquez' accurate combinations will be taking their toll on Fedchenko and he - like Narvaez - will be looking to see the final bell. Marquez however, is so creative on offense though, that I can see him still being able to open up a negative fighter - something Donaire couldn't do - and maybe force a late stoppage in front of his adoring natives.
While defeat for both Marquez and Rios is not likely, it is also not impossible. However, defeat for Marquez will likely come as a result of a sudden overnight ageing process or from a freak knockout. Unless you are Floyd Mayweather, it's hard to imagine a boxer [which Fedchenko is] outboxing Marquez.
I can on the other hand, imagine a boxer outboxing Brandon Rios. And they will not have to be a Juan Manuel Marquez to pull it off.
Who's the best Mexican boxer today?