After a cautious first round, Rios and Andrew Cancio found themselves in a toe-to-toe battle. The two fighters stood in close quarters, trying to slip punches but ultimately were on the receiving ends of their opponents’ fire.
If Rios wanted a victory, he’d have to fight for it. He did just that.
“[Cancio] was strong physically,” Rios said. “Physically, on the inside, he was strong. He was stronger than his punches.”
Rios, 23-0 (10), withstood Cancio’s strength and battled in an exciting brawl at the UIC Pavilion, prevailing with a unanimous decision, winning a competitive fight.
The three ringside judges scored the bout 97-93 (twice) and 96-94. The fight was televised on Fox Sports 1 as part of Golden Boy Promotions’ “Golden Boy Live.” Maxboxing had the fight 98-92 for Rios.
“I thought I did more than enough to win the fight,” Rios said. “You just have to look at his face. My face is a little bad but that’s because I’m pale. His face was worse.”
Cancio,15-3-2 (11), backed Rios up early on with thudding shots to the body. Rios, however, started to adjust, rolling off the punches and striking with a counter right.
It was the right hand that established a rhythm for Rios. The 24-year-old featherweight prospect was finished off combinations that would back up Cancio.
Cancio had success again in the later rounds as Rios wasn’t able to roll as effectively. Cancio was competitive but couldn’t make a drastic difference. Rios still stood in front of Cancio and banged away.
“It was a tough, good fight at this point of his career,” Rios’ trainer, Hector Lopez said. “I’d like for him to sit on his punches more. He’s fast but I need him to hurt people. In the amateurs, you can outscore people but we need him to knock people out. That’s going to come with time. It’s about maturity.”
Rios landed 330 of 646 punches (51 percent) while Cancio landed 286 of 915 (31 percent).
“This was a learning experience,” Rios said. “At the same time, I proved something. I prove that I’m a force that won’t be pushed around.”
Unlike the barnburner in the main event, the co-feature saw featherweight prospect Julian Ramirez bore his way to a one-sided unanimous decision over Carlos Rodriguez. Ramirez won by scores of 80-72, 79-73 and 78-74 but coasted for most of the fight. Ramirez, 122.2, started aggressive, bullying Rodriguez back. Rodriguez, however, stayed up but couldn’t mount anything offensively. It led to a match that looked like a sparring session.
With the win, Ramirez improved to 11-0 (6) and Rodriguez fell to 18-14-4 (10).
The first televised fight of the evening saw an entertaining fight between two local fighters as Jose Arambula won a unanimous decision against David L. Diaz. Arambula, 7-0 (3), knocked Diaz, 4-1-1 (2), down in the first round with a left hook. Arambula spent the following rounds on his back foot, connecting with jabs and clean left hooks, stunning Diaz again at the end of round two.
The three judges scored it 60-53 and 58-55 (twice) for Arambula.
Making his debut under the Al Haymon banner, welterweight prospect Alex Martin scored a second round knockout over Anthony Linenfelser. Martin, 5-0 (5), stayed composed and comfortably picked his spots. In round two, Martin dropped Linenfelser, 3-7 (3), with a right hook/left cross combination. Linenfelser rose but the fight was stopped after Martin unleashed another series of punches in the blue corner. Referee Gerald Scott stopped the fight at 2:14.
In the second fight of the evening, super middleweight Mike Gavronski squeaked by Kevin Hand, 5-6-1 (5), with a majority decision. Gavronski, 14-0-1 (10), was slightly more active but both fighters had their moments. Gavronski won by scores of 59-55, 58-56 and 57-57.
Chicago welterweight prospect Semajay Thomas, 3-0 (1), earned his first professional knockout over Miguel Antonio Rodriguez, 1-6. Thomas, who is advised by Al Haymon, connected quickly with a right cross that sprawled Rodriguez across the canvas. Rodriguez rose but was sent down twice more with right hands before referee Pete Podgorski stopped the bout. The official time of the stoppage was 52 seconds of the first round.
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