Urbano Antillon doesn’t have a fighting nickname and maybe it’s appropriate. For years the Maywood resident has traveled the slow and steady path while others skyrocketed past him.
Now it’s Antillon time.
Antillon faces Venezuela’s Miguel Acosta (25-3-2, 19 KOs) for the interim WBC lightweight world title on Saturday at Nuevo Vallarta. The Top Rank fight card dubbed Latin Fury 10 will be shown on pay-per-view.
For a moment the soft-spoken fighter thought the fight card would be canceled when Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. dropped out due to an injury.
“At first I thought the whole show was canceled,” said Antillon (26-0, 19 KOs) calmly.
Outside the ring, Antillon carries himself like the nine-year professional athlete he is. Every day he works on his craft with almost no fanfare and recognition outside of his tiny town of Maywood.
According to the California Department of Finance, Maywood’s population is right around 30,000 people. The incorporated industrial town might be called a manufacturer of professional prizefighters. Inside the Maywood Boxing Club, you might find a world champion from Russia or one from Mexico. Boxing is its forte.
Located on the Atlantic Boulevard corridor, Maywood is south of Commerce City which is south of East L.A. Those three spots are a triumvirate of the best boxing breeding grounds for the greater Los Angeles area.
Antillon grew up with boxing and steadily has emerged as one of the top lightweights in the world today. Only 26, it seems the Maywood fighter has been around forever.
“First pro fight I was 18. It's been going on almost nine years,” Antillon says.
In the beginning Antillon was a boxer-puncher who used his legs to move in and out of trouble and his power to end a fight if possible. He was only 20 years old when he twice fought at the historic Olympic Auditorium against then junior lightweight prospects Adan Hernandez and Ivan Valle. He barely beat Valle after nearly getting stopped.
It was a learning process.
Back to the gyms he went where he sparred with many of the best fighters today including Edwin Valero in 2003. Against the mercurial Valero he was dropped in a sparring session and that led to many proclaiming Antillon was not championship material. At the time he was only 20 years old.
Then came Genaro “Chicanito” Hernandez the former world champion and younger brother of Antillon’s trainer Rudy Hernandez. On his advice, new training and diet habits where adapted and with it came a new fighting style.
“My conditioning was always questionable. Genaro Chicanito has been working with me on nutrition,” said Antillon. “I’m a whole different fighter now and I’m able to fight 10 to 12 rounds. Before it was questionable. I’m going to fight at a hard pace and fight the whole fight like that.”
Goodbye boxer-puncher, hello pressure fighter.
For the last three years Antillon has consistently proven his new style can break the wills of most opponents. The knockouts keep coming as if on an industrial conveyor belt.
Perhaps the biggest sign of Antillon’s arrival came one afternoon when the great Mexican world champion Juan Manuel Marquez arrived in Maywood to find some sparring. In stepped Antillon and the battle was on. For three rounds the two battered each other relentlessly with neither giving ground.
Antillon had arrived.
Knockouts over Bobby Pacquiao, Daniel Attah and Tyrone Harris were seen on television by the boxing public. It also led to Pound for Pound king Manny Pacquiao to ask Antillon for sparring earlier this year.
Those who saw Pacman and Antillon spar witnessed crackling firefights between the two lightweights.
“He’s very strong,” said Pacquiao.
Freddie Roach said Antillon gave Pacman the best sparring while he prepared to fight Ricky Hatton last May.
Antillon still has a lot to prove to the boxing world.
“There was a time I would have to box and take my time because it was questionable I could go the whole 12 rounds,” Antillon said. “Now it's up to my opponents to take me for 12 rounds. Now it’s pedal to the metal like they say.”
The Maywood prizefighter is fighting in Mexico for the first time in his career. It’s an added incentive.
“I’m pretty excited. My parents are from Mexico,” said Antillon, adding that dozens of relatives are driving from various parts of Mexico to see him fight. “It's my first time fighting out there.”
Top Rank’s Bob Arum said the boxing organization expects Antillon to continue his professional trek toward excellence.
“This kid Urbano is a terrific fighter,” said Arum.
Antillon still doesn’t have a nickname yet, but maybe it’s fitting. He’s strictly blue collar.
Who Should Floyd Mayweather fight next: