The Palms casino hotel, LAS VEGAS, Feb. 26
RIOS was relentless. / Photo: CHRIS FARINA, Top Rank

Indomitable will, guts and toughness prevailed when Brandon Rios overwhelmed Miguel Acosta in last Saturday’s lightweight championship thriller on Showtime. There was a bit more to it than that, however.
Rios brings the sort of pressure that creates concern in his opponents. It is what I would call fast pressure, a driving forward momentum. If Rios gets an opponent going back and prevents the other man from getting positioned to fire his big shots, then the undefeated fighter from Oxnard, CA is always going to be very difficult to beat.
Acosta is an accomplished fighter, tricky and dangerous. The way the unloaded punches on Rios in the fourth round, frankly I have to admit I started fearing the worst. Yet when Rios came ploughing forward again in the fifth round I think that it took a lot out of Acosta psychologically.
Put yourself in Acosta’s situation. This is a fighter who can really bang. When he hits an opponent, he hurts him. He is accustomed to fighters going down — or at least slowingdown — from his hammering blows.
So, for Rios to be coming right at him again in the fifth round, as if nothing had happened in the previous round, must have been a dismaying sight for the veteran from Venezuela.
I believe that the fight turned in the fifth round. Even though Acosta was still fighting well, still letting fly with some impressive combinations, he was no longer the dominant boxer-puncher of the first four rounds.
Despite the fourth-round pasting, Rios was still strong and he still wanted to fight. Acosta, I believe, wanted to have an easier type of round in the fifth, to get Rios to stay back a bit, to have the time and space to box at a tempo of his choosing. The Venezuelan is a courageous boxer but I think that his spirits sank when Rios kept rolling forwards, and instead of a boxing match this now became a battle for survival, fierce and merciless, and it was “Bam Bam” Brandon who was the better suited mentally and physically to win this type of bout. It was as if Rios was sending a message: “I’ve taken the best you can give me, Miguel — now it’s my turn.”
True, Rios does get hit rather too easily for the liking of his supporters, but when he remembers to keep a tight guard he is at least able to cushion the effect of some of the shots, and as Al Bernstein noted in the commentary, Rios was getting a bit better defensively, moving his head a bit more, as the fight went deeper.
To me, from round five the body language and the facial expressions of the fighters told the story. Acosta was, I think, doing far more moving, at a much faster pace, than he really wanted to do. His face was a picture of extreme anxiety. Rios, meanwhile, was an expressionless aggressor, like animal that knows it is closing in on a weakened prey.
In the exchanges, when Acosta was forced to the ropes, to me the Venezuelan boxer was fighting desperately whereas Rios was rock-steady.
I certainly wouldn’t say that Rios’s knockout victory in the 10th round was just a matter of time, but I did get the impression, from the fifth round, that a little bit more was being taken out of Acosta with each passing round — and to think that Rios beat his man down despite having hurt his right hand in the eighth round. Old-time lightweight iron men Battling Nelson and Ad Wolgast would surely have given a nod of approval.