What seems like a long time ago now, Ronny Rios was a good-looking prospect in the Golden Boy stable. He was rising up the ranks at 126/130, beating some solid veterans, and then in 2014, he was dominated in a loss against Robinson Castellanos.
Rios just looked lost in the ring that night at Indio’s Fantasy Springs Casino. But he came back, taking the “0” from Jayson Velez the next year, before working his way to a title shot at 122 lbs, losing a decision to Rey Vargas in 2017.
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Rios since, but now at 31, he’s fought his way back to another world title shot, which he’ll receive on Nov. 19 against Murodjon Akhmadaliev, who holds the WBA and IBF titles.
With four straight wins going for him, including a stoppage upset (at the time) over Diego De La Hoya in 2019, Rios (33-3, 16 KO) has been up and down in the sport, but his highest point may be still to come.
“You can’t overthink these fights anymore. A lot of people don’t know and fighters don’t talk about what goes on behind closed doors,” he said at a media workout. “The mental battles we face with doubt and nerves, all that stuff can start to creep up. Now, for me, it’s whatever. I have nothing to lose, this next fight I have everything to gain.
“I go into every fight with nothing to lose and everything to gain. I don’t care about the hype or the negativity. I am just going in there to get the job done and I am having fun with it.”
Akhmadaliev (9-0, 7 KO) won both of his belts in a terrific fight against Danny Roman in early 2020, and made a dominant defense earlier this year at home in Uzbekistan, stopping Ryosuke Iwasa in the fifth round.
Rios will be the underdog in this one, but he feels good about his chances, and is certainly not someone who should be counted out. In recent outings, he’s looked as good and dialed in as he ever has in his career.
“Obviously, I have the experience. I have been doing this for such a long time,” Rios said. “I am going to go out there, execute it, and whatever people have to say, let them say it. It doesn’t affect me. The game plan is to win. That is all that matters.”