by Michael Marly
Exciting WBA lightweight champion Brandon Rios likes having a chip on his shoulder.
Rios, age 25 and a protégé of thriving trainer and former world champion Robert Garcia, is now inviting rugged July 9 (Home Depot Center, Carson, California, on Showtime TV) challenger Urbano Antillon to try and knock it off.
At their initial press conference, two time title bout loser Antillon mentioned something about the Oxnard-based Rios’ wife having the real testicles in the family.
“I love that,” Rios said on a Top Rank media conference call on Thursday. “I love having beef with an opponent. I have to have that little excitement when I go to the gym, to be a little angry or mad.
“I need it, I love it,” the 27-0-1, 19 knockouts Rios said.
Trainer Garcia agreed that getting emotional is rocket fuel for his loves to brawl boxer.
“Brandon now wants to go out there and kick his ass,” Garcia said. “After the press conference, Antillon came over to offer a handshake and Brandon refused him.”
The way Rios sees it, Antillon was wrong to make the spouse reference.
“He mentioned my wife,” Rios said. “I don’t talk about (another) boxer’s family. He was the one who brought my wife into the mix.”
Rios, who a couple of years was viewed by some at Top Rank as a real talent who lacked true dedication, said he’s not the same, wild 23 year old he used to be before he settled down. He suggested that performance in taking the WBA version crown from Miguel Acosta showed as much.
“Lots of people were doubting me,” the fighter known as “Bam Bam” said. “But that was two years ago and it was just the way I was then handling things outside the ring, my personal life.”
Garcia views the matchup as a head-on collision.
“Antillon will be right in front of us,” the trainer said. “He will come right at us.”
Humberto Soto and Acosta both turned back Antillon, 28-2 with 20 knockouts, in title tries.
“This is his third time,” Rios said, “but it won’t be the charm for him. I know he is a helluva challenger but I feel so much stronger.”
Garcia noted that training in the higher elevation with Abel Sanchez Big Bear Lake has likely put the challenger into tiptop condition.
“But Brandon’s a real hard worker. We just expect a great fight, a tough fight.”
For his part, Arum said the fight "doesn't need to be sold" but he was peddling it anyway.
It's kind of like when the emcee says, "Here's a man who needs no introduction."