Reports are now that the December 3 opponent for WBA lightweight titlist Brandon Rios will be John Murray, the fighter who lost to Kevin Mitchell on July 16 in Liverpool. From RingTV.com:
WBA lightweight titleholder Brandon Rios, of Oxnard, Calif., could face once-beaten John Murray of Manchester, England, on the undercard of the Miguel Cotto vs. Antonio Margarito rematch, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.
"That's what I was told yesterday," said the source. "There is no contract signed, but that's the opponent being considered."
Murray (31-1, 18 KO) is, like Rios, a straight-ahead brawler type, a pressure fighter who brings excitement and action. As far as having a chance to beat Rios (28-0-1, 21 KO), I don't think he really does -- he's sort of like a lesser version of Rios, with less power and not as varied an offensive attack. Their similarities kind of end at the fact that they both enjoy standing and trading.
But the good news? It'd be a great fight for as long as it lasts. Rios and Murray aren't cute fighters, and will give a good show without question. Murray's loss to Mitchell was valiant and a hell of a fight, and though I suspect he lasts no more than five or six rounds with the powerful, relentless Rios, he'll bang straight back at the Mexican-American warrior and go down in flames if that's what he has to do.
As I've said numerous times lately, I think the best we can realistically hope for with pay-per-view undercards are good fights, and Top Rank is setting that up in spades with the Cotto vs Margarito show. The main event should be a battle, Rios vs Murray would be heavy-hitting action, Jones vs Lujan should be a solid fight (if not more), and Wolak vs Rodriguez II could be a potential Fight of the Year contender, which they already had in July. There's no bad fight here -- no Cornelius Lock vs Orlando Cruz or Victor Ortiz vs Jeff Resto stuff. It's not pure showcase or middling Friday Night Fights-level stuff anymore. We're not going to get PPV cards stocked with big, significant fights up and down the card, so as long as there's serious entertainment value, I'm good with that, and this card is shaping up to be excellent to watch.