Southern California Fight Scene

By Francisco Salazar

Making the transition from unbeaten prospect to unbeaten contender is harder than it seems. There are those fighters that could get caught up in headlining cards, the bigger purses, or the exposure of being unbeaten. Some of those fighters do not know how to handle it and go from being considered a contender to becoming a pretender. Without those realizing it, Ronny Rios was considered a prospect (maybe he still is to some people), but is knocking on the door of becoming a contender. So far, he is pushing the door open and could swing it wide open with a victory tomorrow night. Rios will take on David Rodela in a scheduled 10 super featherweight bout at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, CA. That bout, along with the 10 round welterweight clash between Julio Diaz and Henry Araud, will be televised on Telefutura. Golden Boy Promotions will promote the card.

Rios (18-0, 8 KOs), from Santa Ana, CA, is coming off a dominating eight round unanimous decision over Guillermo Sanchez in his last fight on April 7th. After taking two weeks, he was back in the gym and is ready to face Rodela (16-6-3, 7 KOs), a slick boxer who was knocked out in his last bout by unbeaten Terence Crawford. Despite the loss that Rodela suffered, Rios is not taking him lightly. “I’m expecting a tough fight,” Rios told earlier this week over the phone. “The thing about him (Rodela) is he comes to fight and doesn’t shy away from tough fights. We’re going to pressure him and hope to break him down during the fight.” This will be Rios’ first scheduled 10 round bout of his young career. Managed by Frank Espinoza and promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, Rios has been moved along well throughout his career. Prior to this bout, Rios fought six times bouts that were scheduled for eight rounds. Even in his amateur days, where he was a two-time amateur champion and a national Golden Gloves champion, Rios favored fighting longer-distance fights. He was more comfortable fighting in those types of fights.

“I didn’t do too well in those four round fights early in my career,” said Rios, who likes to spend time with his girlfriend, enjoys eating out, and has a season pass to Disneyland. “My style is suited for the distance fights. It allows me to take my time and to be patient.” Since making his professional debut in October of 2008, Rios has mostly fought between 126-130 pounds. After his fight against Rodela on Saturday, Rios says that he will drop down and fight at 126 pounds.

“My plan to drop and fight at 126 pounds. I’d like to stay there for a year or two. Then I’d like to go up to 130 pounds, and eventually finishing my career at 135 or 140 pounds. As much as I like boxing, I know I need to take one fight at a time.” Rios is a quiet and unassuming 22 year old, who knows what to expect in boxing and has so far remained unbeaten. He knows that with every fight comes greater challenges, which is why he spends a lot of time in the gym. He will be in tough on Saturday against Rodela. However, a victory over the Oxnard fighter could be the breakthrough fight that could swing the door to higher-profile fights down the road.

Boxing returns to the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, CA tonight with a six-bout card, presented by Roy Englebrecht Promotions and Emanuel Steward (Kronk Boxing). In the main event, unbeaten Tony Harrison (8-0, 8 KOs) will take on veteran Calvin Odom (15-11, 11 KOs) in a scheduled eight round junior middleweight bout. Also on the card will be popular welterweight Hector Serrano (14-3, 5 KOs), who now resides in nearby Perris. He will fight Arturo Brambila in a scheduled six round bout. What could be the fight of the night is a scheduled six round bout between Southern California super bantamweights Walter Sarnoi (10-3, 5 KOs) of Monterey Park and Christian Bojorquez (7-0, 1 KO) of San Diego. Three more bouts round out the card. Tickets are priced at $55 and $35, with a $5 service fee per purchase. Tickets are on sale at the Pechanga Resort Casino box office or by calling 1-888-PECHANGA.

Promoter Frank Espinoza told me earlier this week that unbeaten lightweight Luis Ramos is scheduled to return to the ring on September 8th. Since Ramos (22-0, 9 KOs) is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, he could fight on the undercard of the Randall Bailey-Devon Alexander world title belt bout that could be taking place in Memphis. Or Ramos could be headlining a “Solo Boxeo” card that night. Ramos is coming off a 10 round unanimous decision over Daniel Attah on April 21st in El Paso, TX.

Unbeaten super welterweight Hugo Centeno Jr. will return to the ring tomorrow night against his toughest opponent to date in Ayi Bruce in a scheduled eight-round bout. The bout will take place at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, CA and will be televised live on Showtime Extreme. The bout will take place prior to the welterweight world title bout between Robert Guerrero and unbeaten Selcuk Aydin. Centeno (14-0, 8 KOs), a 2009 Oxnard High School graduate, stopped Rahman Yusubov in the fourth round in his last bout on June 2nd. He is trained by his father Hugo Centeno, Sr. Originally from Ghana and now residing in Albany, N.Y., Bruce (22-7, 14 KOs) knocked out Gabriel Adoku in his last bout on June.

Looks like unbeaten middleweight Peter Quillin will be fighting on the first boxing card to take place at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn on October 20th. Richard Schaefer from Golden Boy Promotions told me a few weeks ago that they were looking targeting for Quillin to fight on that card. Although Quillin is a native New Yorker, he trains at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood. He won a 10 round unanimous decision over former world champion Winky Wright in his last fight on June 2nd.

You can follow me on twitter at @Salazar_soccer Come say hi to me at ringside.

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