Two-time lightweight world titleholder Brandon Rios was in what turned out to be a 19-month retirement when he made the decision to return to the ring in mid-2017. He is 2-1 since and said Thursday that he believes a victory on Saturday will position him to fight for a world title for a fourth time.
"You know what, it could be soon. It could be my next fight. Who knows with (Matchroom Boxing promoter) Eddie Hearn," Rios said. "For now, I'm just concentrating on this guy (Humberto Soto). I'm ready for whatever falls next."
Soto and Rios meet in a scheduled 12-round junior middleweight bout on Saturday (DAZN, 7 p.m. ET) at the Municipal Auditorium Fausto Gutierrez Moreno in Soto's adopted hometown of Tijuana, Mexico. The fight headlines the first card promoted by Matchroom Boxing in Mexico in partnership with Fernando Beltran's Zanfer Promotions.
After being knocked out when challenging Timothy Bradley Jr. for a welterweight world title in November 2011, Rios retired. Since his return, he has stopped journeyman Aaron Herrera in the seventh round, got knocked out by former two-division world titlist Danny Garcia in the ninth round last February and stopped Ramon Alvarez -- Canelo Alvarez's older brother -- in the ninth round in November.
The fight with Alvarez was Rios' first bout of a three-fight promotional deal he signed with Hearn last fall.
"I got my first fight (against Herrera) and it was great, and the second one with Danny Garcia which wasn't all that. Sh-- happens in boxing," Rios said. "And then I got to meet Eddie Hearn, who gave me a three-fight deal. Nobody was really paying attention to me anymore and Eddie gave me an opportunity, and I really appreciate that. I'm fighting my second fight with him, and I can't wait to go again."
Rios (35-4-1, 26 KOs), 32, of Oxnard, California, explained the reason he ended his retirement.
"The main decision for me to come back was when I was watching a fight on TV and I told my wife, 'Baby, that can still be me. I can still do that sh--. I know I can still do that sh--,'" Rios said. "I just had a bad camp, bad habits. She told me, 'I'm going to let you do what you want to do, you're a grown man. But if you come back, you've got to promise me you do it right. None of the half-assed s---, with the dieting and all that.' So, I thought about it for about a day or two, and I had the urge for it."
And then there was a promise to his daughter.
"My main target is to get a title shot because I promised my little girl," he said. "She does karate. I told her, 'If you become a black belt, you give me that title. When I become a champion again, I give you my belt.'
"We made that promise, and I don't want to break her heart, so that's why I want to be a champion again before I retire. I keep my word. Every day, I kid you not, she says, 'Dad, remember you promised me?' Every day, she's asking me if I'm bringing back a title. That's 100 percent my drive."
Rios added that he has no issues fighting Soto (68-9-2, 37 KOs), 38, who has won titles at junior lightweight and lightweight, on his turf.
"I'm fighting a guy that lives in Tijuana. He's from Mexico, so I'm pretty sure the crowd's going to be on his side, 100 percent," Rios said. "But it feels good to be back out in front of Mexican fans. I'm ready to go and show the world that I'm ready to get back to the top again.
"I have some fans from (Los Angeles) going over the border to watch the fight, but I'm pretty sure he's going to have more support. Anything can happen, though. At the end of the day, it's not about who has what -- it's about me and him in the ring."