Ronny Rios scored a career-best win tonight on the Cotto-Canelo pay-per-view broadcast, opening the show with a unanimous decision win over previously unbeaten Puerto Rican Jayson Velez in a 10-round featherweight contest, winning on scores of 95-94, 96-93, and 97-92. BLH had the fight 96-93 (Wil Esco) and 97-92 (myself), both for Rios.
Rios (25-1, 10 KO) picked up his second straight win following a demoralizingly one-sided loss to Robinson Castellanos in October 2014, a fight that looks more and more like a severe off-night more than anything telling about Rios' ability. The 25-year-old Mexican-American outfought Velez (23-1-1, 16 KO) down the stretch in this bout after a fairly even first half of the fight, which included Rios being questionably docked a point for low blows by referee Jay Nady in round five.
It's certainly a surprising setback for Velez, 27, who was favored and had fought then-IBF champ Evgeny Gradovich to a draw in November 2014. Velez was the favored fighter on the books coming into this fight, and few if any seemed to be picking Rios for the upset, but he pulled it off in style. As the fight wore on, Rios' punches were sharper, harder, and just had more velocity on them, while Velez seemed to physically fade over the course of the fight, losing steam on his shots in the middle rounds. He fought hard all the way, and landed some good shots until the final bell, but he was clearly the beaten man.