Meet the Women’s Boxing Prospect Aiming to Shine at Beltway Battles: Round Four – Ebanie Bridges, Nina Hughes, Roach Jr., Photos, More!
By Paul R Jones! Featherweight Sulaiman Segawa (14-3-1, 5 KOs, 1 NC) takes on Misael Lopez (14-2, 5 KOs 1 NC) on Saturday night in the main event of the Beltway Battles: Round Four card at the Entertainment & Sports Arena in Washington, DC. Segawa vs. Lopez promises to be a competitive matchup for a vacant WBC USA Featherweight strap. But the card’s coheadliner, aspiring bantamweight prospect Rianna Rios (6-0, 1 KO), is aiming to steal the spotlight.
Rios takes on Northern Ireland’s Cara McLaughlin (1-5, 1 KOs) in a showcase fight, which she views as the next step in her master plan to climb the ranks of women’s boxing escalator style, and become a world champ by 2024. Rios believes that her boxing skills and ring IQ are her primary keys to victory over McLaughlin, and the Texas native maintains that her extensive amateur experience — including amassing a 100-20 record, and earning 12-time National Champion and Team USA World Team Member honors — will ultimately be the difference maker in her bout.
On the eve of Beltway Battles: Round Four, East Side Boxing’s Paul R. Jones! sat down with Rianna Rios for an exclusive interview covering everything from Rios’ roadmap pre- and post- McLaughlin, to her views on the current bantamweight champs and her unique heritage. Here’s what Rianna had to say:
East Side Boxing (ESB): Let’s start by having you tell me what you’re looking to prove on Saturday Night versus Cara McLaughlin?
Rianna Rios (RR): I’m looking to put on a great performance overall, showcase my skills, and show my boxing IQ. I want to show all the work that we’ve been putting in at the gym.
I’m only 6-0 right now, so I’m still learning the pro game. But, I’m looking to improve on my last performance.
ESB: Is there anything that worries you about your opponent?
RR: No, not at all. It’s just another day at the office. I don’t focus on who I’m fighting or competing with, I let my coaches do all that homework. I just execute the game plan they put forward.
But I don’t overlook anybody. You never know when you get these rugged ones. So, I’m definitely going in there smart, but looking to put on a show.
ESB: You fight out of the NoXcuse gym headed by Lamont Roach Sr. (father of super featherweight contender, Lamont Roach Jr. [23-1-1, 9 KOs]). Can you talk about your relationship with your trainer, Lamont Roach and what they’ve added to your game?
RR: It’s a GREAT relationship. Not just in the ring and in the gym, but outside the gym as well. We’re one big family.
My coaches are always looking out for me. And in the gym, I have great chemistry with them. Even my teammates, they’re all bigger than me, but they’re my little brothers. I’m probably the oldest one in the gym right now, and the only girl.
But, it’s a great place to be.
ESB: Many fight fans may not know about your unique heritage of Mexican-American and Native American descent. Can you tell us more about your background, and what it means to you?
RR: Actually, it’s just a few years ago that I found out that my Great Grandfather was full Native American. And it’s been interesting to learn and figure out my heritage and background. And, I wear it on my sleeve proudly!
I’m looking to put on for the Mexican and Native American fans. That’s big.
And being in a sport where there’s not too many women, I’m not only carrying the women’s card, I’m also carrying the Hispanic and Native American cards as well. It’s a big thing for me, especially on Cinco de Mayo weekend. You can’t ask for much more than that.
ESB: So far, you’ve been moving slowly in your career. Given how wide open the Bantamweight division is with multiple champions, including Ebanie Bridges (9-1, 3 KOs) and Nina Hughes (5-0, 2 KOs), and that there’s no consensus alpha female atop the weight class, where do you see your fitting at 118 pounds over the long-term?
RR: I’m moving slow, but I’m way more skilled and all-around better. We’re looking at that [i.e., championship fights vs. Bridges or Hughes] by the end of the year.
I solely believe that I’m the best 118-pounder right now. I’m just getting these fights to get my rankings up, so that when I’m ranked at number 2, 3, or 4, the champions can’t say “NO”.
These types of fights are stepping stones to get in that spot.
But, by the end of the year or early next year, I WILL BE fighting for a world title.
I PROMISE YOU THAT!
It might not be on a big ole’ pay-per-view card, or I might have to fight across the pond with Ebanie Bridges or Nina Hughes, if they win their next fights. And I don’t care about being an opponent or the underdog. It’s just getting that title chance or the opportunity.
ESB: Speaking of titles, I know you’re at Bantamweight now. Do you have a desire to move up in weight anytime soon?
RR: I’d like to move down to 115 pounds and catch a title there. [Then] go back to 118 pounds and catch a title there. I’m trying to win championships in multiple weight classes. That’s the ultimate goal.
ESB: I know we’re running short on time and you have to go. Where can fans connect with you on social media?
RR: They can find me on Instagram @RiannaRios and on Twitter @Ririos10.
ESB: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, Rianna. And I wish you the best of luck on May 6th!
RR: Thank you, I appreciate it!
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About Paul R. Jones!
Paul R. Jones! is a longtime writer and photographer for East Side Boxing. His articles, photographs, commentary, and scholarly work have had thousands of views and downloads.
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