(credit: Tom Casino, Showtime)
Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios came back from early trouble to knock out Miguel Acosta in the 10th round of a thrilling lightweight title title bout in Las Vegas tonight. “Bam Bam” showed incredible grit in what was not just a star making and belt winning performance, but an early candidate for Fight of the Year.
Early, the fight was all Acosta (28-4-2). The Venezuelan titleholder showed awe-inspiring handspeed and skills, circling around Rios (27-0-1), fighting out of the corners and landing very hard right hands. I had him taking all of the first four rounds.
In the 4th, he seemed to have Rios hurt with a series of right hands and left hooks. It may be the only time I’ve ever seen Rios move backwards. But, as ever, he ended the round smiling his maniacal smile and came back with yet more pressure.
It’s hard to understate just how good Acosta looked in these early rounds. Not only did he look extremely intelligent, his defence was great. Rios landed little significant on him, while he connected with tons of hard punches.
But Rios is just a monster. He walked through a wall of hard, clean shots to impose his will on Acosta, and impose it he did. From the 6th onwards, he worked out kinks in Acosta’s footwork and started dialling in his left hand. In the same round, he floored Acosta with a short jab. Acosta said after the fight that he never fully recovered.
From then on, it was all Rios. Acosta, through pure determination and skill, continued to land good counters, but without the power of earlier rounds. Rios, by contrast, was continually landing chopping, hard shots.
Acosta tasted the canvas again in the 8th on another Rios left, but bravely got up to face more punishment. From then on, it was the Venezuelan against the ropes with Rios sitting on his chest.
In the 10th, Rios trapped his man in the corner and landed a series of left hooks and right hands that crumpled him. His cornerman immediately embraced him on the ground and stopped him from getting up. Joe Cortez called a halt to things at 1:14 of round 10.
“I can say I got a good chin now,” Rios said after the fight. He can say that again. He took some scary, head-turning punches from Acosta. With a beard like that, he can beat anyone at lightweight. Too bad we’ll likely never get to see him in with the winner of Robert Guerrero/Micahel Katsidis.
After the fight, not long after Rios’ weird girly victory scream had finished ringing in the audience’s ears, promoter Bob Arum proclaimed that a star had been born. He’s probably right. You put this together with the Peterson fight, and you’ve got a pretty good case for Rios being the next Antonio Margarito.
On the undercard, lightweight contender Antonio DeMarco defeated fellow Mexican Reyes Sanchez in a slightly lacklustre performance. DeMarco (25-2-1) dominated the first five rounds with distance and hard right hands. In the first, he opened a nasty cut over the left eye of Sanchez (20-4-1), already the number one contender for world’s worst haircut.
From the 5th on, it was a completely different story, with Sanchez putting DeMarco against the ropes with consistent pressure. Lucky for DeMarco, Sanchez has terrible punching technique and seemed to be throwing bunches of spaghetti at him. It was always De Marco who was landing the cleaner blows, and earned the the unanimous decision with scores 116-112, 117-111, 115-113. The only other notable thing about the bout was Showtime’s Spanish translator, who sounded a lot like C3PO.
I hate to write guys off after losses, but this the post-Edwin Valero version of DeMarco does not look to be a legitimate threat at lightweight. If he had trouble with the pressure of a guy like Sanchez, he will get eaten up and shat out by the Rios’, Sotos and Antillons of the world. I’d love to get proven wrong, ‘cos I kinda like the guy.