After getting knocked out by Danny Garcia in February, former lightweight world titleholder Brandon Rios announced his retirement from boxing. Yet this Saturday night, he will be facing Ramon Alvarez at the Kansas Star Arena in Mulvane, Kansas.
And if he had it his way, this will be far from his last fight, and the reason why is simple.
Rios, 32, wants a particular black belt.
Sounding like a politician, Rios explained to ESPN, "I have four more f------ years, four more years. Thirty-five years old, I'm done. I'm calling it quits. That's my deadline, I'd done [after that]. But what I promised my little girl, Mia Rios, my 7-year-old daughter, is that when I win a world title again, it's going to be her world title. I'm giving that belt to her.
"She made a promise to me that in karate, that when she becomes a black belt -- that black belt is mine. So we made a promise to each other to give each other our titles. So right now, I have the drive, I have the confidence, I have the mindset, I have the goal to become a world champion one more time before I'm retired. I'll become a world champion and then I can retire. I can say, 'Here, my daughter, this is yours,' and I'm done with boxing.
"So that's my last goal," continued Rios (34-4-1, 25 KOs), who has three kids with his wife, Vicky. "I don't care about the money. I don't care about none of that s---. I want another title."
"Bam Bam" Rios doesn't so much retire than take an extended hiatus from the ring. After his stoppage loss at the hands of Timothy Bradley in 2015, he said he was walking away from the sport only to return more than a year and a half later in a KO victory over Aaron Herrera. Boxers have a way of changing their minds on things like this. Rios is no different.
"I got caught with a punch like everybody else does," he said in looking back at the Garcia fight. "It happens to the best of us. It happens to the best. I thought I could take a punch, but I guess I couldn't. I guess I don't have the best chin in the world, but at the end of the day, it is what it is. It happened. When you drop your hand and you get caught with a no-look punch. So it is what it is, and we move forward."
Up until the point he got clipped by Garcia, Rios was performing relatively well in that bout. But it's clear that after years of tough, physical fights, his punch resistance has eroded. When you fight in the manner he has, you must have a stout chin. It's not exactly made of glass now, but it's clear it's not as stout as it once was.
Rios insisted during the last outing that he felt great. "I think I was doing very well till I got caught. It would've been different if I got knocked the f--- out and didn't get back up, but I got back up and I was still ready to compete. Obviously the referee seen a little step that I did and that's what happened."
After his loss to Garcia, he was watching a fight on television with his wife when he pleaded his case to her. She gave her blessing, and the latest comeback was on.
This time around, Rios -- who in the past has battled weight and his own undisciplined behavior -- hired a nutritionist (and has followed his instructions "to a T"). He also made some personal changes. "I have let go of people that wasn't there for the right purposes. So I had to let them go. Now, I'm ready to just continue to move forward and be stronger."
For much of the summer, there was talk of Rios finally facing his arch-rival, former welterweight world titlist Victor Ortiz, in what could be dubbed "the Garden City Grudge Match." For a spell, it looked as though this long-awaited match-up was coming to fruition.
"I thought it was going to happen," admitted Rios, who then pointed out that Ortiz is going through serious legal issues stemming from sexual assault charges that forced the cancellation of his bout against John Molina that was scheduled for Sept. 30. Perhaps Rios-Ortiz was never meant to be. If this bout never happens, Rios says there will be no particular regret. "Nah, I leave it as it is. It is what it is. I move forward and that's it. But at the end of the day, it's not me. If it happens, it happens. I wish it would've, but hey, move on."
Now Rios returns to his home state to face Alvarez (27-6-3, 16 KO) in a catch-weight bout (151 pounds) as he begins his three-fight deal with Eddie Hearn's Matchroom USA/DAZN.
"It's f------ weird," he said of his homecoming. "I haven't fought in Kansas since 2007, when I fought in my hometown, Garden City. Now I'm fighting [near] Wichita, Kansas, which is like five hours away. So going back to Kansas, it's crazy."