Brandon Rios will be looking to ride his momentum from his eye-opening performance against Anthony Peterson when he faces slick Venezuelan Miguel Acosta Saturday night on Showtime.
Rios, 26-0-1, is a 24-year-old banger who surprised many by thrashing the more well-known Peterson last year on HBO. It was thought that the younger brother of Lamont Peterson had the polish to make Rios look bad. Rios knocked that polish right off with punishing left hooks to both the body and head.
But Peterson’s boxing skills were exaggerated by many. As illustrated by his 2009 struggle against journeyman Luis Antonio Acero, the Washington D.C. native isn’t exactly light on his toes. Trainer Barry Hunter was so frustrated with him that he exited the ring in between rounds 9 and 10 after notifying his pupil that he had nothing else to say. Regardless of his opponent’s lack of mobility though, Rios’ power and in-fighting were impressive, as well as his composure when Peterson began nailing him in the cup.
On the other hand, Miguel Acosta’s reputation for being fleet-footed is well deserved. Against the heavily favored Urbano Antillon, he spent much of the bout skating along the ropes, expertly mixing an active jab with looping right hands and uppercuts, while sprinkling in a healthy dose of holding and spoiling tactics. His relentless opponent became more reckless as frustration set in. Eventually, Antillon ran into an uppercut that left him with a glassy glaze that influenced referee Russell Mora to wave an end to the proceedings.
How successful heavy-handed but cement-hoofed Rios will be in stalking the deft Venezuelan is unclear. What is clear is he has the same mentality and many of the same defensive liabilities as Antillon. Taking two to land one is a preferred strategy. He doesn’t much care about avoiding jabs. He consistently squares himself up to a moving target. Head movement is meager at best, so an intelligent practitioner like Acosta, 28-3-2, shouldn’t have an issue with accuracy. And openings for Acosta’s money punch – the uppercut – are accompanied with neon signs and flashing arrows.
So barring an early Rios knockout, a chin that remained undented against Peterson’s desperation shots will be put to the test again. This time, against a man who has knocked out six of his last seven opponents, including last year’s KO of solid pugilist Paulus Moses in Moses’ hometown of Windhoek, Namibia.
Nevertheless, Rios will be banking on his power to overwhelm his slippery adversary. Acosta, nicknamed “Aguacerito,” had three consecutive losses – two of them by KO – early in his career. His resume since has been nearly spotless, but he did suffer a pair of knockdowns in 2007 against Anges Adjaho – who has recently become cannon-fodder for young prospects. Acosta’s whiskers may have become sturdier by moving up to lightweight following his tight decision over Adjaho, as he did withstand some heavy artillery from Antillon. But Rios, Oxnard, California, is sure to check exactly how much the extra poundage solidified that chin.
Seek-and-destroy while eating the incoming will only go so far without exceptional intangibles–shortcomings masked by durability and transcendent power. Expectations of anything other than a rousing action fight should be tempered, as Acosta, Caracas, Venezuela, looks to be of the class that will undress the one-dimensional. If there’s anything special about Rios, it better be on full display in Las Vegas tomorrow night.