Saturday Night Fever

By Teron Briggs on April 13, 2012
Saturday Night Fever
Saturday night was supposed to be one of those very special nights in the world of boxing

Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios’ toughest fight this week might not be with Richard Abril, but with the scale…

On Saturday, April 14th, the legendary Juan Manuel Marquez (53-6, 39 KOs) and the undefeated former champion Brandon Rios (29-0, 22 KOs) will co-headline a split site HBO pay-per-view against two random guys picked from the stands. I’m obviously kidding, and I mean no disrespect to Richard Abril (17-2, 8 KOs) and Serhiy Fedchenko (30-1, 13 KOs), Rios and Marquez’s respective opponents; however, neither man is recognizable to even hardcore boxing fans. 

April 14th was supposed to be one of those special nights in the boxing world. Two young, undefeated well known stars, Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios and Cuban sensation Yuorikis Gamboa (21-0, 16 KOs), were set to fight in one of the most highly anticipated bouts of the year. Gamboa, however, unhappy with his contract with his promoter Top Rank, backed out of the fight despite reportedly standing to earn in excess of one million dollars. When HBO and Top Rank couldn’t reach an agreement on a suitable alternate opponent for the network, Top Rank President Todd duBoef had to find another option for Rios. DuBoef stated, “We have an obligation as a promoter to provide opportunities to our fighters, no matter what the case.”  As a marquee fighter whose last five fights were broadcast on premium cable or pay-per-view, it wasn’t financially feasible for Rios to headline an ESPN or Telefutura card. Hence, fans of the sport are now relegated to paying $44.95 to watch one of its most exciting warriors. 

“People have been like who is Richard Abril? Nobody knows who he is,” Rios was quoted as saying recently and he apparently didn’t know who the Cuban champion was until a couple of months ago. That’s when Abril showed up at a press conference to promote the Gamboa vs. Rios bout, Gamboa was a mysterious no-show, and pulled a Zsa Zsa Gabor, by slapping Bam Bam. “I did what I did at the Miami press conference to tell Rios he should be fighting me, not Gamboa,” the interim WBA lightweight titleholder Abril offered as an explanation for his actions. 

Abril was awarded his title when he earned a unanimous decision over former Rios victim Miguel Acosta in October of last year. Other than Acosta, the only other recognizable fighter on Abril’s ledger is Breidis Prescott, the only man to own a knockout victory over Amir Khan. Abril was handed the first loss of his career by Prescott via split decision in June 2008. He maintains to this day that he’s undefeated because he believes he beat Prescott, as well as Henry Lundy, who was awarded a disputed decision victory over him. As with most Cuban fighters, he had a decorated amateur career, compiling a stellar record of 213 wins with only five losses. Abril has been best described as a tall (he has a three-inch height advantage over Rios), awkward boxer who is hard to hit, but doesn’t pack much of a punch. 

Brandon Rios’ toughest fight this week might not be with Richard Abril, but with the scale. Rios’ struggles making the 135-lb. limit for the lightweight division were chronicled in the HBO series “Two Days.” The series follows a fighter the two days leading up to a fight, and showed the extreme difficulties that Rios had in attempting to shed excess weight before his last bout against John Murray in December. Even after not eating for five days prior to bout Rios was still unable to make weight and was stripped of the same WBA title that he’s fighting for on Saturday. “I didn’t do my dieting right” was the excuse that Rios used after the fight. He insists that with the help of a new conditioning coach he will be able to safely make the weight. 

Weight aside, Rios enters the bout with Abril a heavy favorite (no pun intended). In his last six fights he’s faced fighters with a combined record of 154-9, knocking out five of them. Rios applied a nonstop assault to mentally and physically wear down John Murray, before eventually stopping him in 11 rounds on the undercard of Cotto vs. Margarito II. Prior to this fight, Rios twice floored the usually durable Urbano Antillon, in July 2011, before the referee eventually stepped in to save the defenseless Antillon.

The co-headline bout features Juan Manuel Marquez fighting in his hometown of Mexico City, Mexico, for the first time in 18 years, against a fighter not named Manny Pacquiao. Marquez last fought in November of last year, losing a highly controversial decision to pound-for-pound king Pacquiao, the third time he hasn’t gotten the nod when they’ve fought. “The main reason for me to continue is that I want a rematch with Manny,” the 38-year-old Hall of Fame lock has explained to those who have questioned him about retirement.

This will be Serhiy Fedchenko’s first fight in North America, and despite a record of 30-1, he’s only faced a top contender once, losing to Kaizer Mabuza in September of 2009. Unless Marquez has completely overlooked him, there’s no reason to think Fedchenko will stand in the way of a fourth Pacquiao vs. Marquez bout.

In the main undercard bout, undefeated contender Mike Alvarado (32-0, 23 KOs) faces the once beaten Mauricio Herera (18-1, 7 KOs), as he continues make a case for a shot at a world title.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Richard Abril vs Miguel Acosta Highlights

Brandon Rios vs John Murray - (1/3)

Brandon Rios vs John Murray - (2/3)

Brandon Rios vs John Murray - (3/3)

HBO Boxing: Ring Life - Juan Manuel Marquez

HBO Boxing: Juan Manuel Marquez - Greatest Hits

Kaizer Mabuza | Sergey Fedchenko 1/6

Kaizer Mabuza | Sergey Fedchenko 2/6

Kaizer Mabuza | Sergey Fedchenko 3/6

Kaizer Mabuza | Sergey Fedchenko 4/6

Kaizer Mabuza | Sergey Fedchenko 5/6

Kaizer Mabuza | Sergey Fedchenko 6/6

Discuss this in our forums

Related Articles


This is a place to express and/or debate your boxing views. It is not a place to offend anyone. If we feel comments are offensive, the post will be deleted and continuing offenders will be blocked from the site. Please keep it clean and civil! We want to have fun. We want some salty language and good-natured exchanges. But let's keep our punches above the belt...
  1. Kelgray07 08:15pm, 04/13/2012

    Good. . .

  2. Cheekay Atomic 12:37pm, 04/13/2012

    Great coverage.

    I think we all love Brandon Rios; there’s little not to like in terms of boxing.

    I must say, however, that his struggles with the scale are not a good sign.  He’s either fighting at the wrong weight class or has questionable conditioning/nutritionists.  It’s going to catch up with him eventually—he’s better just move up, because the minute he fights a *really* good lightweight he’ll get outboxed, because he’ll be drained.

    My dream of course is for him to end up at 147 and take on Victor Ortiz. Apparently the two dislike each other—aren’t their trainers brothers who don’t speak to each other? 

    I think Ortiz might be too big for Rios (maybe even too good) but I can only wish.  Rios’ days at 135 are numbered, however.  There’s PLENTY of good fights for him at 140.  Juan Manuel Marquez???

  3. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 08:08am, 04/13/2012

    Teron Briggs—“nonstop assault” tells the tale. Hammerin’ Hank beat Abril fair and square….and in my opinion and off of Hank’s last time out against Dannie, Hank would do it again. Hell…. in my opinion….Dannie would be a real danger to Abril!

  4. the thresher 07:49am, 04/13/2012

    I hope not but I’d still pay to watch him fight at any weight. This guy is a MONSTER—a real throwback. I think he is my favorite right now.

Leave a comment