Former champion Rios ready to get back in business against Herrera after long layoff

Brandon Rios hasn’t fought in 19 months, but the former world champion vows to deliver his usual crowd-pleasing brand of ferocity in his return to the ring.

Brandon Rios

Former 135-pound world champion Brandon Rios returns to the ring Sunday against Aaron Herrera in a 147-pound bout that will end his 19-month hiatus. (Mikey Williams/Team Rios)

Brandon Rios (33-3-1) will take on Aaron Herrera (32-6-1, 21 KOs) in a 147-pound main event set for 10 rounds Sunday night at the Pioneer Event Center in Lancaster, California (FS1 & FOX Deportes, 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT).

“I’ve always given the fans a great show,” Rios said. “I’m planning on picking up right where I left off and being better than ever when I get back in the ring. They'll see the guy they love to watch.”

A former 135-pound titleholder, “Bam Bam” last fought in Las Vegas in December 2015, when Tim Bradley Jr. stopped him in Round 9 of their 147-pound world title bout.

Rios announced his retirement after being knocked down twice in the final round and stopped for the first time in his 37-fight career, but the father of five (ages 4 through 13) eventually began to feel that old itch, one that his wife, Vicky, advised him to scratch while he could still reach it.

“I have enough money to retire comfortably and was done with boxing, but I missed it a little after a few months,” Rios said. “I told my wife I thought I still had something left.

“She said to go back and do it now because ‘I don’t want you coming back later on in your life and getting hurt.’ She told me either say you’re done and don’t waste your time or do everything correctly, get your weight right, fight again and get it out of your system.”

The 31-year-old Oxnard, California, resident returns with an entirely new team, including replacing longtime trainer Robert Garcia with Ricky Funez, who has been working with Rios at the Ten Goose Boxing Gym in Van Nuys, California.

“Ricky hasn't changed anything, but he’s added to my arsenal,” said the 5-foot-8 Rios. “I’ll show more head movement, be less stationary and more on my toes.

“[Herrera is 1 inch] taller and can brawl, but I’ve been executing a game plan that allows me to be the same exciting fighter I’ve always been.”

Rios’ only defeats have come against onetime world titleholders. In addition to the TKO against Bradley, he dropped 12-round unanimous decisions to Manny Pacquiao (November 2013) and Mike Alvarado (March 2013). Rios also stopped Alvardo in two other meetings in October 2012 and January 2015, respectively.

Herrera has won three straight fights by TKO, including an eighth-round stoppage of Mario Alberto Cruz in March, after losing his previous three to unbeaten prospects who entered the ring with a combined record of 55-0.

The 28-year-old Merida, Yucatán, Mexico, resident, has been stopped three times in his career, last occurring in Round 6 against Mike Reed in October 2016.

“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.”

In the co-feature, 22-year-old Mario Barrios (18-0, 10 KOs) of San Antonio will pursue his third straight knockout since moving up to 140 pounds in a 10-round fight against 30-year-old Mexican Jose Luis Rodriguez (21-9, 12 KOs), who has won three straight bouts and seven of his last eight.

Also on the televised undercard, 19-year-old Jose Miguel Borrego (12-0, 11 KOs) of Aguascalientes, Mexico, will look to stay perfect against 25-year-old Lancaster resident Kevin Watts (11-1, 4 KOs), who is fighting at home after losing to unbeaten Eddie Ramirez in his last fight in September.
 
For a complete look at Rios vs Herrera, visit our fight page.

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