Roberto Diaz was instrumental in Ronny Rios’ career when he was with Golden Boy Promotions and now, with Rios admitting he’s in the final chapter of his career, Diaz is looking to do the right thing by him as his advisor.

Rios returns on ProBox TV’s Wednesday Night Fights, on April 24 against Nicholas Polanco in a 10-round featherweight which serves as an assessment of where Rios is. It will take place at the ProBox TV Events Center in Plant City, Florida. 

Diaz was not shy in sharing his displeasure with Rios’ last performance. Rios fought Murodjon Akhmadaliev for a unified junior featherweight world title but showed no urgency, remarked the former matchmaker. 

Rios opted to return but has done so with a new team in the form of Jesus Gutierrez and Frank Barajas having left long-time trainer Hector Lopez. 

“During the fight, MJ was fighting one-handed and I didn’t see an eagerness to win a world title from Ronny,” Diaz told BoxingScene, about Rios’ last contest in 2022. “After the fight, it was agreed it was over. Then he had a split from his manager trainer Hector [Lopez], who he had been with his whole life.”

At first, Diaz was hesitant. He didn’t want to get in the middle, and boxers often come back from retirement for the wrong reasons, and often that is money. Yet Diaz remembered the kindness Rios showed him at many prior press conferences, always thanking and acknowledging him.

“I didn’t want to be a part of it,” Diaz said of his first impressions. “I didn’t want to get into the middle of a situation. And I didn’t know [his motivations]. If he is coming back for money, he is coming back for the wrong reasons, because if there is no love for the sport anymore it is very dangerous.”

So Diaz told Rios to show him he was serious and Diaz then said he would bring him back “the right way”.

“What I mean by the right way is don’t tell me to get you the fight for the biggest pay,” stated Diaz. “Because that then tells me you are doing it for the money. Let’s start slow, let’s get a fight where you can get [rid of] some rust, and there may not be a lot of money.”

Rios’ opponent, Polanco (21-5-1, 12 KOs) is a veteran, a tough competitor offering professional resistance to top fighters such as Robson Conceicao and Angelo Leo. This isn’t a soft touch, but Rios is also not jumping right back into the deep end. He is also fighting at featherweight as opposed to junior featherweight.

“I am going there with a lot of confidence that I will see that young hungry lion back again,” said Diaz. “When you do it for the love [of the sport], that is when good things happen.”

Diaz has known Rios for a long time and for the final phase of his career is standing by him, so Rios can end his boxing journey on the right terms as opposed to searching for something that might not be there. 

Lucas Ketelle is a proud member of the Boxing Writers Association of America, and the author of ‘Inside The Ropes of Boxing’ – available on Amazon. You can contact him on Twitter @LukieBoxing

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