By Cliff Rold, photo by Chris Farina/Top Rank
Time will tell how much farther fiery Southern California Lightweight “Bam Bam” Rios can take his talents. He’s already got a belt. If he keeps it Saturday, it wouldn’t be hard to envision him winning more, both at 135 lbs. and a division up at Jr. Welterweight someday. He is, already, emerging as the sort of can’t miss warrior those crowd pleasers were before him.
When Rios fights, it’s just not to be missed.
The challenger this weekend won’t make it easy on him, which is sort of the point. Rios means fights. So does Urbano Antillon. Together, these two will bring the violence. Stubbed toes?
These two real fighters will be too busy stubbing each other’s faces to worry about their damn feet.
Let’s go to the report card.
Title: WBA Lightweight (2011-Present, 1st Defense)
Weight: 135 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 135.95 lbs.
Hails from: Oxnard, California
Record: 27-0-1, 20 KO
BoxingScene Rank: #1 at Lightweight
Record in Major Title Fights: 1-0, 1 KO
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 1 (Miguel Acosta)
Current/Previous Title: None
Weight: 134.75 lbs.
Average Weight - Five Most Recent Fights: 135.3 lbs.
Hails from: Maywood, California (Born in Mexico)
Record: 28-2, 20 KO, 1 KOBY
BoxingScene Rank: #6 at Lightweight
Record in Title Fights: 0-1 (0-2, 1 KOBY including interim title fights)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 0
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced in Defeat: 2 (Humberto Soto, Miguel Acosta)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Rios B; Antillon B
Pre-Fight: Power – Rios B+; Antillon B+
Pre-Fight: Defense – Rios B-; Antillon C+
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Rios A; Antillon B+
Of the two, Rios holds an edge in speed but it isn’t too substantial. The same can probably be said for power, though Rios was able to stop a Miguel Acosta who put the first loss on Antillon’s ledger. Both men have heavy hands but neither is inherently a one-punch finisher. Antillon seeks to press and overwhelm with physical strength.
Against both Acosta and Humberto Soto, Antillon had less left late and, with a younger man in front of him this weekend, he may need to start fast. Acosta built a lead on Rios and forced him to come from behind with beautiful boxing. Antillon doesn’t do beautiful boxing. He has to discourage Rios and put rounds in the bank. Rios, as he showed with Acosta, can come on strong late and brings power all twelve rounds.
Defense? Both guys are competent enough to not get hit with everything thrown at them but their best defense is what they are throwing. They could be graded lower, but their offenses are that good.
In terms of intangibles, Rios takes the edge because, so far, when asked to raise his game he has done so and left with his hand raised. Antillon, while making great efforts, has not. He’s shown give. Rios has taken.
Expect Rios to take the following this Saturday: a “W,” a first title defense, and a second stoppage of Antillon. Antillon will be there with Rios early and the exchanges should be popcorn worthy all the way but as the round progress Rios will be landing more, catching less, and pulling away. Look for a Rios stoppage around the ninth round.
Cliff’s Notes… Rios-Antillon will probably be the best fight of the week. It’s not the only notable action worth picking though...Needing a freebie to offset that lousy Haye-over-Klitschko pick last week, Lucian Bute is the choice here to defend his Super Middleweight belt by stoppage against Jean Paul Mendy…On the big HBO card, looking for Rico Ramos to pick up his first belt at 122 lbs. with a decision over Akifumi Shimoda…and, finally, picking the upset in the HBO main event, maybe even by late stoppage. Erislandy Lara over Paul Williams on a southpaw hunch.
Report Card Picks 2011: 21-7
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]