Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios is the cock of the walk in the lightweight division that’s filled with bad boys waiting anxiously to knock him off his perch.
One of them happens to be Maywood’s Urbano Antillon.
Rios (27-0-1, 20 KOs) defends the WBA lightweight world title against would-be usurper Antillon (28-2, 20 KOs) on Saturday, July 9 at the Home Depot Center. The Top Rank promotion has other great fights but this one has “grudge match” written all over it.
Three years ago Antillon was deemed unbeatable but was held back by his promoter while others got their opportunity. The Maywood pressure fighter waited his turn patiently as several Mexican fighters tied to Fernando Beltran got their shots first.
In that period of time it seemed that Antillon was the strongest. But all athletes have a peak period and it doesn’t last forever. When he finally did get his chance he was beaten by Miguel Acosta of Venezuela.
Rios hit a similar period a little more than a year ago. The pressure fighter entered a reign of terror that saw him bust through opponents with a do or die attitude that did not fail against opponents like Jorge Teron, Anthony Peterson and Omri Lowther. Finally he got a shot at Acosta and though dropped early in the fight, he battled back and ran over the Venezuelan with his steamroller style of fighting.
But every fighter hits that period when they slow down because of the beatings taken during fights and more so during the sparring. Reflexes are a little less responsive and the mind starts registering at a dull pace. Even pain is felt more.
Rios and Antillon both have engaged in brutal battles that would make an executioner wince. But which fighter has more fight left in him?
“I think I showed the world that I have a lot of heart and that I love boxing a lot and that I love the business,” Rios says of his title win that happened this past February.
Antillon says that despite his loss to Acosta, who in turn lost to Rios, you can’t use that fighter as a barometer.
“Our styles are completely different,” Antillon said. “Just because he beat Acosta doesn’t mean he’s going to beat me. It doesn’t work that way.”
Rios makes Oxnard his training base and Antillon works at Big Bear. Both have excellent boxing trainers with former champion Robert Garcia helping the champion and Abel Sanchez working with the challenger. Either fighter can win.
“I’m very excited to be fighting against someone who’s going to give me a war,” Rios said. “That’s that stuff that drives me. That’s the stuff I live for. That’s why I love boxing. It’s something I can’t wait for.”
Antillon can’t wait to get his third shot at a world title and invites Rios to battle to find out the stronger man.
“If he (Rios) wants to stand there in front of me he’s going to get hit,” promises Antillon.
It’s pressure fighter versus pressure fighter and it’s a pressure cooker ready to explode.
A Top Rank press conference last month saw both toss acidic words at each other and soon their supporters joined in the verbal attacks. The time for words is over now.
“There’s just going to be me and him,” said Antillon toward Rios supporters that day on June 7 in downtown L.A. “You’re not going to be in there.”
Rios gleefully rubs his hands in anticipation.
“This is what I love to do,” Rios said.
Tickets prices begin at $25.
Fights on television
Fri. ESPN2, 6 p.m., Jesus Gonzalez (26-1) vs. Henry Buchanan (20-2).
Fri. Telefutura, 11:30 p.m. Jessie Vargas (15-0) vs. Walter Estrada (39-14-1).
Sat. Showtime, 10 p.m. Brandon Rios (27-0-1) vs. Urbano Antillon (28-2).
Sat. HBO, 10:15 p.m. Paul Williams (39-2) vs. Erislandy Lara (15-0-1).