LAS VEGAS, Nevada — The pre-fight verbal sparring promises a tense and entertaining bout on Saturday when Richard Abril takes on Brandon Rios for the vacant World Boxing Association lightweight title.
Rios, the Mexican-American former champ, had been slated to take on Yuriorkis Gamboa.
But when Gamboa signalled his disinterest by failing to show for two press conferences last month, another Cuban-born fighter, Abril, caught Rios off guard by rushing to challenge him.
Fireworks have marked the build-up to the bout, including a shoving match at a Los Angeles press conference last week.
“No unheard-of fighter like Abril will ever beat me,” Rios declared. “He’s going to go down and he’s going to go down real hard. In the boxing world, Abril is in the darkness and I will keep him there.”
Abril, however, has wasted no opportunity to point out that he is, in fact, the WBA’s interim champion. The two are fighting for the title that Rios surrendered on the scale in his 11th round technical knockout against England’s John Murray in December.
The fight went ahead, but Rios was stripped of the title for failing to make weight.
Rios says he’s taking his training more seriously now, and has even hired a nutritionist.
“He is helping a lot,” Rios said. “He is cooking great and I’m eating great. This is the smartest move I have made in my career. And it’s paying off very well right now.”
Abril, who gained the interim title after defeating former champion Miguel Acosta in October, brings a record of 17-2-1 with eight knockouts to the bout.
“I feel very good and I am very prepared for this fight,” Abril said. “You have been talking a lot of smack. Well, I’m here and not afraid of you.”
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