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Straightened Out: The Story of Brandon Rios

Straightened Out: The Story of Brandon Rios


After suffering an injury during a sparring session, undefeated top-five lightweight contender Brandon Rios (24-0-1, 17 KOs) had to drop out of his May 8th bout in Aguascalientes, Mexico against fellow top-five contender Urbano Antillion (28-1, 20 KOs). That fight would've been part of what became Antonio Margarito's triumphant return to the ring. Though no fault of his own, it was a major missed opportunity for Rios.

But now that he's recovered from his injury, Rios is ready for a new opportunity -- and to confront his next opponent: Anthony Peterson (30-0, 20 KOs). The two meet on Sept. 11 on the same card as WBA featherweight champ Yuriorkis Gamboa, who's clashing with WBC featherweight champ Elio Rojas in a unification bout in Las Vegas.

Rios has learned a lot from his trainer Robert Garica. And Garcia's teachings weren't limited to the sweet science. Indeed, Garcia helped Rios overcome legal difficulties stemming from a toxic combination of immaturity and an out-of-control temper.  

Rios said, "Every time I'd go back [home], I'd get in trouble. And I'd end up with problems and going to jail. So that had a big effect on my career. In reality, I was just losing myself."

Garcia came to his troubled pupil's aid with some tough love. "He kept telling me: 'Look, see these guys? They have a gift. They're getting belts. They're champions. And you -- you ain't doing nothing. You just keep going backwards. You've gotta man up and just realize and just leave the past alone.' And, little by little, I took that in, and every time I go back [home], I hear his voice telling me that."

Another voice he heard during his most recent training camp was that of another of Garcia's fighters: Antonio Margarito. Indeed, over the course of their work-out sessions, Margarito became something of a mentor to the young fighter. 

"He told me, 'Together, we're gonna be champions again,'" said Rios, recalling a prediction Margarito made. "That motivates me a lot. Because that just shows where I'm at, and where I used to be.

"Right now, I feel relieved of everything. I don't have no more probation. It's been years since I've been to jail. Right now, I'm just blessed that everything is going good."

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