In front of family, Ronny Rios looking to get closer to title opportunity

Junior featherweight Ronny Rios hopes for an entertaining fight against Azat Hovhannisyan in the main event of Golden Boy on ESPN card. Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

From Michael and Leon Spinks to Khaosai and Kaokor Galaxy (who were twins) there have been numerous boxing brothers of all sizes who have achieved significant success. Now comes the sibling tandem of Ronny Rios and Alexis Rocha who are working toward becoming the next brothers to fight their way to the top.

They take another step Friday, when Rios takes on Azat Hovhannisyan in a junior featherweight 10-rounder, and Rocha faces Miguel "La Amenaza" Dumas in a welterweight bout scheduled for eight rounds. The card takes place at The Hangar at The OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, California.

Rios, 28, and Rocha, 20, live in Santa Ana, less than 10 miles away from Costa Mesa, which makes it easy for their local fans to attend. Both have fought on the same card before, but this is the first time both of their fights will be televised on the same show.

"We sold about 700 tickets ourselves," Rios said. "I think everybody from my family is coming to the fight -- my wife, my mom, my brothers, uncles, cousins, my good friends. I think my wife will bring our son -- it will be the first time he's come to one of my fights."

Rios (29-2, 13 KOs) turned pro in October 2008 and went undefeated in his first 23 bouts, including an impressive victory over Rico Ramos. But the streak ended when suffered a fifth-round knockout loss to journeyman Robinson Castellanos in October 2014, in a fight he was favored to win.

He quickly rebounded, winning his next five fights. Among those victories was arguably Rios's best performance to date, a 10-round unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Jayson Velez on the Canelo Alvarez-Miguel Cotto card. It was a close fight the first five rounds, but Rios dominated the second half, landing the harder punches to win by scores of 97-92, 95-94 and 96-93.

"I think this is going to be an interesting fight. My opponent comes forward, I like to come forward -- there's going to be a lot of excitement for the crowd."

Ronny Rios

Rios got his first shot at a world title when he challenged undefeated WBC junior featherweight titleholder Rey Vargas, August 26, 2017, at the StubHub Canter in Carson, California. Rios's best chance to win came in the eighth round when he hurt Vargas with a left hook to the head but couldn't finish him.

Possibly still feeling the effects of the left hook, Vargas spent most of the ninth round in retreat. Who knows what might have happened if Rios had gone all out at that point? But he failed to capitalize and the moment passed.

"Vargas was moving a lot," Rios said, "but I should have been more aggressive."

It is unlikely that Rios will have to do much chasing against Hovhannisyan.

"I think this is going to be an interesting fight. My opponent comes forward, I like to come forward -- there's going to be a lot of excitement for the crowd," Rios said. "We have a game plan that we put together for this guy, so we're going to go out there and capitalize on it."

"He's in your face all night, so it's going to be an entertaining fight. I have my game plan, and I'm sure he has his."

Alexis Rocha

Hovhannisyan, whose nickname is "Crazy," describes his style as "smart, but very aggressive." Originally from Armenia, he now lives in Los Angeles and trains at Freddie Roach's Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood.

The 29-year-old Hovhannisyan (13-2, 10 KOs) has won seven in a row (five by knockout) since losing a close majority decision to Walter Santibanes in November 2014. He's tough and determined, with good punching power.

"Rios is decent boxer but knows how to brawl," Hovhannisyan said, "not an easy guy to face."

Hovhannisyan will be fighting with extra incentive. Like many foreign fighters campaigning in the United States on a work visa, he needs to win a title to increase his chances of staying in America.

Rocha (10-0, 7 KOs) is still in the prospect stage of his pro career but he got a taste of the big time when he was still an amateur, sparring with Canelo Alvarez.

"It was before his fight with James Kirkland," Rocha said. "I probably did four rounds with him. It was very exciting to spar with a pro like him. I just noticed he was patient, picking his shots very well. The amateurs are more pitty-pat, just throwing your punches. But Canelo was very relaxed; he was very patient with his shots, and very explosive. That's what I picked up for my transition to my professional career."

Rocha was certainly explosive in his most recent fight, a first-round, one-punch knockout of Pascual Salgado, Nov. 16, 2017. He ducked a right hand and countered with a left hook to the body that put Salgado down for the 10-count. It's unlikely, however, that he'll dispose of Dumas -- who has never been knocked down -- that quickly.

"Miguel Dumas is a solid opponent. I've seen footage of him when he fought Karim Mayfield. He's durable and comes to win," Rocha said. "He's in your face all night, so it's going to be an entertaining fight. I have my game plan, and I'm sure he has his.

Dumas (10-1, 7 KOs), 24, is from Tijuana, Mexico, where he has had most of his fights. The bout with Rocha will be his second in the U.S. and also his first scheduled for eight rounds.

"My style is to move forward -- the Mexican style," Dumas said.

His nickname, which was given to him by a gym mate, means "The Threat." We will have to wait until Friday to find out how much of a threat he is to Rocha.