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"Bam Bam" gets his border pass
Rios hits the big league with win over Peterson

Story & photos by Chris Cozzone

Cuban sensation Yuriorkis Gamboa might’ve been the headliner on the card, but the real star of, both, the fight card and the post-fight press conference, was Brandon Rios.

Living up to his nickname, “Bam Bam” Rios, 25-0-1, 17 KOs, blasted through the guard of Peterson, 30-1, 20 KOs, flooring his formerly undefeated opponent in the fifth, en route to a win by disqualification in round seven. Rios was ahead on the cards, 68-62 trice, when Referee Russell Mora stopped the fight due to excessive low blows thrown by Peterson.

“Now you all know who Brandon Rios is,” Rios needlessly told the press. “I made the crossover from Spanish television to HBO – I feel I got my border pass now.“

With the win, Rios becomes the No. 1 mandatory for the WBA’s lightweight title(s), meaning an eventual shot at Juan Manuel Marquez and/or Miguel Acosta, depending on whether he will meet the organization’s “regular” or “super” champion.

Rios, however, wasn’t talking so much about either fighter as he was about WBC Featherweight Champ Humberto Soto.

“Quit handpicking your opponents, Humberto Soto,” said Rios. “Fight me.”

If not Soto, Rios said he was ready for “anybody out there.”

“I have the green belt,” Rios said, most likely meaning his NABF strap, “but I want the real green one [WBC] – against the one who is handpicking his opponents. I’m ready to step up my game.”

Living up to his reputation of taking punches to land one, Rios weathered several clean shots by Peterson, but eventually wore his opponent down.

“Peterson was tough – all fighters are tough,” said Rios. “Punching-wise, I didn’t feel his toughness, though I tip my hat off to him. He’s an excellent boxer and is very quick and has skills – but I just came out better, and more victorious tonight.”

Peterson was not present at the presser, but Rios gave him his props, admitting that he’d been hurt in round five, the same stanza in which he’d floored his foe.

“We both landed left hooks,” said Rios. “Good thing he got dropped because he stunned me a little bit. I heard ‘diiinnnnnnggggg’, like Christmas bells or something.”

Rios said he had “nothing bad to say about Peterson,” but thought the low blows were intentional.

“He was like, ‘Man, I can’t this guy anymore, I can’t trade with him,’” said Rios. “He figured if he was gonna go out, he’d go out with the ref stopping him and not out on his back. He couldn’t handle the pressure any more.”

Promoter Bob Arum, making his first public appearance since the tragic death of his son, John, told the press that Rios “had made the first step toward coming a big star.”

Rios said he would have to work on defense and head movement, but “other than that, I think I have it all.”

. . . .

Also in high spirits at the presser was undefeated Las Vegan Diego Magadaleno, 16-0, 4 KOs, who pulled off the most impressive win of his career, scoring his first kayo in two years over Brazilian Carlos Oliveira, 25-2, 19 KOs.

“It was a hell of a night and a good time in the ring,” Magdaleno was all smiles.

. . . .

On the undercard, Chicago’s Mike Lee, 2-0, 1 KO, tattooed the badly-tattooed Alex Rivera, 2-3, 2 KOs, for a second round TKO.

“Fighting in Vegas was a dream come true,” said the former Notre Dame boxer. “The second round knockout was icing on the cake.

“Notre Dame might’ve lost one on the field today, but we got a victory in the ring tonight, for the team.”

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