I had held off on doing this preview for two reasons:
- I thought it was, while a good fight that promised action, the most open and shut case of the entire card. I had no doubts about the winner.
- There was a lot to cover the last couple of days, and I knew I could push back the fight previews until Friday, and little would be lost. This one came last for the Cotto vs Margarito undercard, so, you know, oh well. It's Rios vs Murray.
As little as four hours ago, I would have told that you Rios, the 25-year-old slugger from Oxnard, was gong to be too much for Murray, 26 and traveling across the pond from Manchester.
[ Related: Rios Fails to Make Weight ]
I would have pointed out that just under five months ago, Murray was stopped in the eighth round of a terrific action fight against Kevin Mitchell in Liverpool. That fight was recently named British Fight of the Year by the British Boxing Board of Control. It was a damn fine fight, too, with Mitchell surprising a lot of folks by coming back from a long absence, going right at a legitimate opponent, and turning in the best performance of his career, when many thought he would look a shell of the fighter he once was supposed to be, but would never ultimately become.
I would have noted that Mitchell, a small lightweight, used superior boxing skill and an overall better toolset to get the tough-minded, forward-charging Murray out of there, and that Rios, who is sort of like the best possible version of John Murray, wasn't the same matchup -- but would, in the end, prove too strong, too good, and too powerful.
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I would have told you that if you were a gambling sort, the +115 I saw earlier on betting the under for 6.5 rounds would have probably been a steal.
And I would have referenced Rios' July 9 smashing of Urbano Antillon, a fighter similar in style and quality to Murray.
But now that Brandon Rios has failed to make weight, it's a different story.
It's not that Rios failed to make weight, so much as the fact that he looked absolutely horrible at the weigh-in. About an hour before the show went live to the world via various web outlets streaming eight men being weighed in New York City, there were rumors flying that Rios vs Murray was in trouble.
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Nothing solid was reported, but it was assumed that one man was overweight.
John Murray stepped to the scale, clad in Peter Griffin boxer shorts, and looked fit, determined, and in the zone mentally.
Then Rios stepped up. Pale, he was, and gaunt. He looked like he'd been left out in the sun too long. Rios has always looked thin and a bit dried out at weigh-ins, but this was really something to see -- or not, given the lack of Rios weigh-in photos out there in the aftermath.
He didn't make weight, and couldn't make it in the hour after that he was given to successfully reach 135 pounds. Now, he has to weigh no more than 147 at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning, or the fight is off.
If it goes through, all bets are off at this point. Four hours ago, I wouldn't have even considered picking John Murray. Now, if Rios is even close to the shape he was in today when he gets into the ring (if he gets into the ring) tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden, I have a hard time seeing an out-of-shape Rios, whose lack of defense is becoming quickly legendary, surviving against a guy like John Murray, who comes at you and comes at you and does not give up. It's a bad guy to be drained against.
If the fight happens, I'm going with John Murray. It's a cautious pick, but that's how awful Rios looked today. John Murray TKO-7.