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Brandon Rios: First Soto, then another world title

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Rios is focused on his next fight, but has bigger goals.

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Brandon Rios v Danny Garcia Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images

Brandon Rios, the former lightweight titleholder, has a fight on Saturday night, when he heads down to Mexico to face another former world champion, Humberto Soto, in Tijuana. The bout is a main event fight on DAZN.

But while Rios, 32, is focused on the 38-year-old Soto in a bout that neither veteran can afford to lose, he says he’s got bigger goals in his boxing comeback: he’s looking to get back to another world title shot.

“My main target is to get a title shot because I promised my little girl. She does karate. I told her, ‘If you become a black belt, you give me that title. When I become a champion again, I give you my belt.’ We made that promise, and I don’t want to break her heart, so that’s why I want to be a champion again before I retire. I keep my word. Every day, I kid you not, she says, ‘Dad, remember you promised me?’ Every day, she’s asking me if I’m bringing back a title. That’s 100 percent my drive.”

Rios (35-4-1, 26 KO) is an underdog in this goal, as he’s past his prime, fighting at welterweight, where he’s two divisions north of his best years. But he’s always been a determined fighter in the ring, too, which has carried him to the career he’s had.

Soto (68-9-2, 37 KO) will be a good test on Saturday. If he can get past Soto, Rios might have a shot at getting back into a world title fight. He’s got the right promoter (Eddie Hearn) and the name value.

But even then, you look at the welterweight titleholders right now — Errol Spence Jr, Terence Crawford, Keith Thurman, and Shawn Porter — and it’s hard to figure a way that Rios beats any of them. Even the WBA’s secondary (“world”) titleholder at 147 is Manny Pacquiao, who dominated Rios back in 2013.

And even if Rios could comfortably boil down to 140 again, which is highly unlikely as he hasn’t fought there since losing to Mike Alvarado in their 2013 rematch, he’d be running into good fighters holding titles there, too.

So it’s a big ask. You gotta admire the goal and the guts, but it’s a big ask.