With the April 14 lightweight clash between Brandon Rios and Yuriorkis Gamboa signed and ready to go, fight fans have gone giddy in anticipation over what is on paper a potential Fight of the Year candidate between two undefeated, in-prime fighters, both taking a big risk with a style clash that could deliver fireworks.
Speaking with RingTV.com, Rios gave credit to Gamboa, who is moving up two weight classes for the fight, and says he'll look into his recent past to prepare for the hyper-quick Cuban:
"I give Gamboa a lot of credit. He's jumping up two weight classes and he's been calling me out. He's coming up to my weight class and he's challenging me. This is a fight that I've been waiting for. It's going to be great. He's very skillful, he's very fast. He's going to bring fans too. He's a very talented kid. So it's going to be a great fight and it's a great match up for the fans and everybody. I'm just so ready for this fight."
[Comparing Gamboa to Miguel Acosta]
"That's the same type of style that I think Gamboa will bring to the table, but maybe with a little more quickness from Gamboa."
Rios (29-0-1, 22 KO) defeated Miguel Acosta last February in a great fight, which saw Rios in trouble early, being outboxed and outslicked, before rallying to knock out the Venezuelan in nine and claim the WBA lightweight title.
With all due respect to Rios here, I think relying too much on his experience with Acosta could be a bad idea. Acosta was quicker and more "skilled" than Rios, but so are a lot of guys. Gamboa's hand speed and ring IQ are on another level, and he's also a more accurate puncher than Acosta, who may well punch harder than Yuriorkis, but probably doesn't punch as well, if that makes sense.
I think the biggest fear out there, and it's my biggest fear for sure, is that Rios, 25, won't be able to make weight on April 14, or if he does, will be so drained doing so that it will put him at a disadvantage. If he doesn't make weight, I really don't think you can expect the 30-year-old Gamboa (21-0, 16 KO) to make some deal and still take the fight, as John Murray did in December. For Murray, the fight was a huge opportunity, as he was coming off of a loss.
While it's a big chance for Gamboa, too, he has a lot more to lose here, and is already taking a risk giving up a lot of size in this fight.