Manager Espinoza has been impressed with Rios' smarts and skills. He faces his toughest test in ex champ Ramos Friday.
R & R stands for railroad and it can also represent a couple of featherweight prizefighters named Ronny Rios and Rico Ramos. It also signifies an intersection where one fighter goes forward and the other takes a detour.
It’s as simple as that.
Costa Mesa featherweight Rios (19-0, 9 Kos) intersects with former junior featherweight world champion Ramos (21-1, 11 Kos) at Fantasy Springs Casino on Friday. The Golden Boy Promotions card will be televised on Showtime. It’s free for nonsubscribers this weekend.
Ramos had his WBA title ripped away by Cuba’s Guillermo Rigondeaux a year ago and it wasn’t a pretty sight in the mere six rounds it lasted. But in his last ring entrance against rugged Efrain Esquivias, the South-Central boxer seemingly returned to form.
Now Ramos faces another undefeated contender who’s anxious to prove deserving of a world title bid.
“I was excited to hear I was fighting Ramos because I get a chance to show that I belong with the best,” said Rios, 22. “He’s a good fighter and a former world champion so if I beat him I deserve to fight a world champion.”
Rios has steadily graduated from level to level in the talent gauge for professional prizefighting. From beating Fermin Perez in his first pro fight to Georgi Kevlishvili to veteran Roger “Speedy” Gonzalez, the Orange County-based prizefighter has hopped up different levels of the boxing spectrum.
“My toughest fight was against Speedy Gonzalez,” said Rios, who fought Gonzalez in Sept. 2011 at the Orange County Fairgrounds. “He hit me in the eye with an open hand and I couldn’t see for half of the fight.”
Rios edged Gonzalez despite the vision handicap.
During that contest Rios battled through the injury against the always clever Gonzalez, who has knockout power. He recently gave Andrew Cancio only his second pro defeat but could not muster enough to convince the judges. Instead, Rios won by unanimous decision that night on September 2011.
Frank Espinoza, who manages Rios and world champion Daniel Ponce De Leon, admires the intellectual and physical tenacity of the 22-year-old Rios.
“He’s very intelligent,” says Espinoza of Rios. “He’s also a hard worker.”
Rios is taking no chances and has prepared by sparring regularly with one of the top featherweights in the world, Mikey Garcia.
“Mikey is definitely one of the top three featherweights in the world,” said Rios, 22, who lives in Costa Mesa. “You can’t get better sparring than Mikey Garcia.”
Garcia is also preparing for a stiff challenge for the IBF featherweight title now held by Mexico’s Orlando Salido. He needed solid sparring and received it from Rios for several weeks in Riverside.
“We were sparring a lot and I know he’s capable of doing a lot. He’s very, very fast and he’s improved a lot in the last few years,” said Garcia of Rios. “He has a good opportunity in front of him.”
It’s an important intersection for both Rios and Ramos.