As the new year gets into full swing, the boxing schedule is also picking up. Perhaps the first notable fight of 2013 will take place on January 11, when Ronny Rios takes on Rico Ramos for the vacant NABF Super Featherweight title.
Both fighters are young, but they have already accomplished a good deal in their careers.
Rios is just 22 years old, but he's compiled a professional record of 19-0 with nine KOs. He stopped David Rodela in July of 2012 to extend his unbeaten streak to 19.
He's already earned a reputation as an exciting fighter. If his success continues, he'll elevate to even bigger fights in the future.
Ramos is not much older at 25, but he's already held a major championship. He knocked out Akifumi Shimoda in July of 2011 to win the WBA Super Bantamweight Title. He was down on all three scorecards, and quite honestly, he got lucky when he landed a big left hand that dropped Shimoda.
In his first defense, Ramos would himself be stopped by a hard body shot from Guillermo Rigondeaux in the sixth round of their January 2012 bout.
Ramos looked completely overmatched against Rigondeaux, much like he looked against Shimoda before the KO.
He took an eight-round majority decision over Efrain Esquivias in June of 2012 to regain his confidence.
Now he hopes to begin 2013 on a winning note.
This should be an entertaining fight. Here are the specifics on the fight and a closer look at both fighters.
When: 11:15 p.m. ET on Jan. 11, 2012
Where: Fantasy Springs Casino Resort in Indio, Calif.
Live Stream: Showtime Anytime (Pay Service)
The Book on Rios
The youngster from Santa Ana, Calif. is durable, and he has a surprisingly sharp jab. He also bangs to the body consistently with quick, whacking shots.
His style is reminiscent of Danny Garcia's, but Rios is a little more aggressive.
Even with that aggression, he doesn't waste a lot of energy firing punches in impractical situations. The best word to describe Rios at this point in his career is efficient.
He only has nine KOs in his 19 fights, but as his body matures, he has the ability to add more pop to his punches.
My biggest criticism for him is that he has a tendency to take too many shots. He's demonstrated a solid chin thus far, but if he has plans of advancing in weight and competition level, he needs to shore up his defense a bit.
Check out Rios in his most recent fight with Rodela:
The Book on Ramos
The first time I saw Ramos fight, I had extremely high hopes for him. His combination of speed and punching accuracy caught my attention when I saw him KO Cecilio Santos on Friday Night Fights back in 2010.
Santos was far from a major contender, but Ramos looked pretty amazing. It didn't surprise me to see him win a world title in 2011.
The way he won it was a shock, though.
Shimoda was thoroughly beating Ramos until the latter landed the telling left hook that ended Shimoda's night and gave Ramos the title.
Check out the knockout here:
Despite coming out on top, my opinion of him dropped a bit. I thought it was a mistake to fight a skilled and slick boxer like Rigondeaux in his next fight.
The Jackal continued to expose Ramos by knocking him out with a body shot. This loss sent Ramos back to the proverbial drawing board in his career.
Obviously, he still has the physical skills, but I wonder if his confidence is back where it needs to be to succeed on a high level in the sport. This fight will serve as a solid test.
I really don't like this matchup for Ramos.
Rios is a tough kid, with solid punching fundamentals. He goes to the body and head well, and he has solid stamina.
Despite the one-shot KO Ramos scored over Shimoda, he isn't normally the type of puncher that can make Rios pay for his lapses in defense.
Rios will wear him down and stop him late.
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