NEW YORK – Team Rios and Team Antillon spent time with the boxing media on a teleconference call hosted by Top Rank’s Bob Arum on Thursday, a week before their upcoming world title showdown on Saturday, July 9, LIVE SHOWTIME® at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast) from The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
The undefeated Rios (27-0-1, 19 KOs), of Oxnard, Calif., by way of Lubbock, Texas, will defend his World Boxing Association (WBA) lightweight title against Antillon in the main event of a SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING doubleheader. Arguably the division’s most exciting fighter, Rios is coming off the biggest win of his career – a 10th round TKO of defending champion Miguel Acosta on Feb. 26 to capture the WBA title.
Antillon (28-2, 20 KOs), of Maywood, Calif., has given sensational performances in recent fights. In his last outing, he lost a controversial decision against World Boxing Council lightweight champ Humberto Soto last December in the consensus “Fight of the Year.” Though he lost to Soto, Antillon emerged from that fight a world-class contender.
In the co-main event, former International Boxing Federation (IBF) welterweight champion Kermit Cintron (32-3-1, 28 KOs), of Carolina, Puerto Rico, will square off with Carlos Molina (18-4-2, 6 KOs), of Chicago, by way of Mexico, in a 10-round junior middleweight fight. The event is promoted by Top Rank.
Here are what the principals had to say on Thursday:
“Brandon Rios and Urbano Antillon - you don’t have to sell that fight. Everyone knows they are going to see a really great and entertaining fight. We are ready to set the standard and the record as far as ratings are concerned on SHOWTIME this year.
“Urbano Antillon has fought for a number of years under the Top Rank banner. One thing we can be sure of with Urbano is that we’re going to get a great, great fight. He’s a terrific fighter and has a lot of determination and is a terrific talent. He knows that this is a big, big opportunity for him. A lot of people think he won the fight against Soto but the controversial decision went against him.
“I’m personally looking forward to seeing this fight because I love an all-action fight. I personally predict that when all is said and done and we’re sitting around discussing fights of the year, this fight will be right up there as one of the candidates as 2011 Fight of the Year.”
“Camp is going very well and I’m working with my new strength and conditioning coach. I know he (Antillon) has said the third time is a charm for a world title but in this manner it will not be a charm. He’s a helluva fighter and a tough challenger so we’re ready for the best. I’m just really happy to be fighting back in California again. I haven’t fought here since 2005. I just can’t wait to give the hometown fans what they came for and have paid to see - just two warriors going out. That’s exactly what they are going to get: two guys beating the crap out of each other.
“In the (Miguel) Acosta fight 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. After the first couple of rounds the way Acosta was doing his job, I kept to my game plan and I overcame it and I knocked him out. I think I impressed a lot of people. Two years ago I wasn’t doing the right things outside the ring, but I’ve changed my life around.”
What do you mean that Acosta was doing his job?
“What I mean by that is that he came in to fight. I was always doing my job. I’m pretty much a late starter. I was putting on the pressure from the start and we knew the first couple of rounds were going to be pretty hard because of the way he is. We knew that the momentum would shift as the rounds went on and I would get stronger. He was doing his job but I was just putting the pressure on more and following what my corner was telling me to do and I knew I would come out victorious.”
Can you describe the personality clash between you and Antillon?
“We were supposed to fight a year ago and unfortunately I got cut in sparring. He was running around saying I didn’t want to fight him and that I was chicken. He was just running his mouth and after awhile he just started to get to me. And then when this fight started he was doing it again, just running his mouth and talking all kinds of smack. At the press conference he mentioned my wife. Fighters shouldn’t bring families into it.
“I love it when I have a beef with my opponent. I needed something in the gym because lately it’s gotten a little boring. I have to have that little excitement, someone talking smack about me, someone doing this or that to me. I have to go to the gym mad so I can get a get a good workout and it’s not going to affect me during the fight. I love that. The gym was getting boring until this and now I’m ready to go out and handle my business.”
On watching the Antillon-Soto fight:
“I’ve been watching that fight. (Antillon) came out and showed a lot of heart. He came out and was determined to win that title, but Soto just out-punched him and out-classed him, I guess. To me, I think I hit harder than Soto so it’s going to be a different story. This is just going to be one helluva fight which the fans are going to love. I’m very excited to be fighting against someone who’s going to give me a war. 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.”
What fighters did you look up to when you were growing up?
“I looked up to Julio Cesar Chavez. I liked the way (Diego) Corrales fought. I liked the way Arturo Gatti fought. I liked the way Castillo fought. That’s the type of fighters I looked up. Even in the amateurs, those are the fighters that had I had a similar style with. I took a little bit of everything from Chavez.”
ROBERT GARCIA, Rios’ Trainer:
“We are going to go in there and have some fun. That’s what we like to do. We know Antillon is going to be very prepared as he’s been training up in Big Bear with Abel Sanchez. We expect the best from Antillon. But you will see the best Brandon Rios. This is a helluva fight and hopefully no one misses it and this one breaks the (ratings) record.
“I know what type of fighter I have. Two years ago we wanted to take it little by little. But just a month before the (Anthony) Peterson fight I told (Rios manager) Cameron (Dunkin) that right now is the moment when Brandon is going to surprise the world and make everyone believe in him and we did it.
“Brandon’s such a hard worker and his mentality is to not only to be great in this sport but to be one of the all-time greats and be considered a helluva fighter. He told me, ‘I don’t care if I’m ever in the pound-for-pound. I may never be. But I just want to be remembered for being a tough fighter that I am.’ “
On the trash talking:
“That’s the first thing that people mentioned to me after the press conference. That’s the best thing that could have happened. I know Brandon. Now he’s training harder and he’s loving it. Now he wants to go out there and basically kick his ass. That’s what he wants to do. When Antillon came up to shake his hand after the press conference Brandon said, ‘Why do you want to shake my hand. I f---in hate you right now. Dude, get the f--- out of here.’ People think that might hurt Brandon but no, that actually helps him train harder and perform better in the fight.”
“Our training is going great. If you thought I was in great shape against Soto, I’m probably even in better shape this time. I’m in a different state of mind, a positive state of mind and just looking forward to this fight.
“I’m not feeling any sense of urgency. Are these chances to fight for a world title going to keep coming around? Probably not. But God works in mysterious ways and I have to think that more than ever I’m mentally, physically, emotionally ready to move forward and win this world title.
“I’m not going to change my style. I have boxed in the past but it wasn’t my first choice. It was just something that I had to do. It was more of a survival thing that I did. I made little tweaks here and there with Abel Sanchez and hopefully we’ll be able to adapt them into our game plan. That’s the plan. You’re going to see the best plan for a guy who is aggressive and comes forward.
“I don’t feel pressure whatsoever fighting at home. It won’t be my first time fighting at home and hopefully won’t be my last. It’s always been an honor and, if anything, very motivating. It’s always great to have people backing you up. Sometimes the water can get pretty deep so it’s always good to have people to pull you through those moments and give you that little extra push to come forward. I’ve always had great support from my hometown and hope to bring them a world championship.
“The difference between Humberto Soto and Brandon Rios is that Rios is not a mover, he’s not a boxer. If he tried to do that I’m sure he’s not going to do that great a job at it. You just don’t change things from day to night, I guess. If he wants to stand there in front of me he’s going to get hit. And the ones that have stayed there I’ve been breaking them down or knocking them out. Brandon Rios is nothing special. He’s no different than anyone else. We’re going to go in there with the mission to bring him in and break him down and come out with the victory.”
Is this a personal fight for you like it is for Rios?
“No, not at all. It’s kind of mind boggling the way he’s taken it. I did mention his wife but never in a way that should upset him. He can play victim to whatever he wants and say I said this or I said that. It doesn’t matter to me. But I know why I said it and I know my intentions behind it. He could take it personal but he’s nothing special. He’s just like any other opponent. It’s nothing personal to me except that he’s holding my world title and that’s the only thing personal behind it.”
“I was very surprised the way he reacted actually. I’ve never seen someone lose it like that in front of me so bad. It really took me back to my elementary school years being flipped off by a fifth-grader on the playground or something. It was something else and pretty funny to watch. I’m sure Oxnard and the City Council who gave him a key to the city are pretty proud of him that he reacted like that. He’s a great example to them and the community, I’m sure.”
How can you compare Soto with Rios?
“There’s not much to compare other than they’re both world champions. Soto’s a boxer, a mover and has better defense.”
ABEL SANCHEZ, Antillon’s Trainer:
“We are looking forward to a spectacular fight. Both guys are going to be very prepared and I know Robert is a great coach. I know Rios is training very hard and is a tough opponent for us but you know what, that’s what these fights are supposed to be. A world championship fight is supposed to be this tough. Urbano has had a great camp and we are looking forward to July 9 and that boxing will have a new superstar. The crowd and the people watching on TV are going to be the winners because this is the type of fight that will get all those MMA fans back on our side.”