Having had a full boxing career, Ronny Rios retired. 

Rios, however, returns on ProBox TV’s Wednesday Night Fights, on April 24 against Nicolas Polanco in a 10-round featherweight contest that he hopes will catapult him into title contention. 

The former junior featherweight is with a new team, too, and is trained by his former stablemate Jesus Gutierrez, along with Frank Barajas. 

Rios and Gutierrez go back more than 20 years and now the fighter is treating every contest like it could be his last, coming back after a near two-year layoff and having thought his fighting days were over.

“Honestly, I had retired and I had walked away from the sport,” Rios told BoxingScene. “I had given up on the sport. I fought for the world title twice and I came up short. I thought, ‘You know what? Maybe it is time to move on’.”

Married with two kids, Rios got a job and, over time, he did not like how he looked, having put on weight. So he returned to the boxing gym and lost 20lbs. At the same time, the passion to fight returned and he realized he wanted one more shot.

“This fight means everything,” Rios said. “Coming off the longest lay-off of my career, and it is not just this fight but every fight from this point on. I want to solidify my legacy and it is going to start on April 24th.

“I don’t want to come back just to come back. At the end of the day, I want to go out there and win a belt.”

Rios is hoping to show he has improved his defense and said that was an area he had not previously focused on. Three of his four losses have come by knockout. His last defeat was on June 6, 2022 to then unified WBA and IBF junior featherweight champion Murodjon Akhmadaliev. Rios was stopped in the 12th and final round. 

A decorated amateur, Rios admits he has found significant differences between the two codes, but he is in the end game now and hopes to give his story a different finale.

“It isn’t about the fame or the money,” said Rios. “What is happiness? To me, it isn’t money. To me, it is peace. When I was an amateur I used to win national after national and I always wanted more – and I still do. But that’s not my priority. I want more because I want to be able to say I won these belts.”