LOS ANGELES – Undefeated World Boxing Association (WBA) lightweight champion “Bam Bam” Brandon Rios and two-time world title challenger and Top-Five-rated contender Urbano Antillon spent more time talking to each other than members of the media on Tuesday, but it didn’t seem to bother anyone attending the kickoff press conference for the July 9 showdown at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., and televised LIVE on SHOWTIME®, beginning at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast.)
Just moments after being seated on the dais – and about five feet apart – at the downtown Wilshire Grand Hotel, Rios and Antillon started in on each other, and didn’t stop until Antillon was about to leave the building with Rios shouting at him to, “Get out of my life and get out of this hotel!”
Rios (27-0-1, 19 KOs) said after the contentious and emotionally charged press conference that Antillon (28-2, 20 KOs) got personal and he didn’t like it one bit. “I’m a clown and I joke around a lot but this guy really gets under my skin and it’s not going to affect me in the ring,” he said. “If anything, it’s going to help me. He’s opening his big (expletive) mouth and talking about my wife. You don’t mention my family. I didn’t talk about his family.
“He made it personal. He named my wife and brought my family into it. And now he’s going to pay.”
Both Southern California fighters – Rios is from the north of L.A. in Oxnard and Antillon just a bit to the south in Maywood -- had to be separated at the podium after their faceoff photos, which led Top Rank President and CEO Bob Arum to say, “Remember, you don’t get paid to fight outside of the ring. I’m getting out of here but just remember I only pay for fights inside the ring.”
The co-main event will feature former International Boxing Federation (IBF) welterweight champion Kermit Cintron and Carlos Molina in a 10-round junior middleweight fight.
Rios and Antillon were supposed to have met 13 months ago before a Rios injury halted the fight.
Also introduced at the press conference was three-time University of Notre Dame champion Mike Lee and Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta, an unbeaten lightweight from the Philippines who will make his promotional debut with Top Rank on July 9.
Here’s what the principals had to say on Tuesday:
“I’m predicting the main event to be the Fight of the Year because Brandon and Urbano only know how to give crowd pleasing fights and it should really be sensational.
“SHOWTIME does a tremendous job televising fights. They are doing fights that have great, great crowd appeal. The fight they had on Saturday (Super Six Semifinal) had an enormous rating and we expect an enormous rating on this fight too.”
“On July 9th I will knock (Antillon) out and show the world why I am the best 135-pound fighter in the world. That’s why I became the champion. That’s why I beat (Miguel) Acosta and you didn’t. I knocked him out and he knocked you out.
“On July 9th you’re going to get more than knocked out. Your career is going to be done and you will never fight for a title again. I promise you that and I don’t break my promises.
“This is the first fight where I’m using a strength and conditioning coach and I feel great. This guy sitting next to me will never fight for a world title again. He will never fight again period. If Acosta wasn’t a test, then why did he knock you out? Answer the question. Why did he knock you out?
“I sparred 17 rounds yesterday and I felt great. I hit way harder than anyone he’s ever fought. I’m hungry and I want it more than anything. It’s my belt. I became a world champion for some reason and I’m going to keep it. Defending my title, that’s why I wanted this guy because they say he’s tough. I didn’t want to go the easy route. I want to show everyone I’m the man and I’m the best. This guy’s just playing with fire and he’s going to get burned. He’s just burning.”
ROBERT GARCIA, Rios’ trainer:
“Good thing this fight didn’t happen a year ago because now we’re defending. We’re going to be ready and (Urbano) knows he better be ready. I know I have the champion. Everybody better come out to Carson on July 9 because this is going to be a war.”
“I just have to say that the third time’s a charm, I guess. I’ve fought for a world title twice before and I’m going to win it on my third try. We’re two fighters who come forward so I know it’s going to be a good fight. We’re both hard-headed and don’t like to back down. On July 9 Maywood is going to be champion.
“We were sitting down and he started talking. It is what it is. I don’t care if it’s heated up there.
“It’s a bigger stage now. He won the title and I had a great fight with (Humberto) Soto. There’s more anticipation for this fight now and it’s a bigger fight than it would have been a year ago.
“I’ve been with Abel (Sanchez) for a year now and this is my third fight with him. If we would have fought a year ago I would have only been with him a week so I feel a lot more comfortable with him now.”
ABEL SANCHEZ, Antillon’s trainer:
“As you can see what was supposed to have happened a year ago has simmered and is coming to a boil now. We are going to see a great fight on July 9 and I hope Brandon knows that he’s in for a tough fight and come the 9th he’s going to be knocked out.”
MIKE LEE, three-time Notre Dame champion:
“I want to thank all the Team Lee supporters out there. I train with Ronnie Shields who trains Kermit Cintron in Houston and I was out here last year and in the corner for his fight and have seen the venue. It’s a great place to hold a fight and I’m just really excited to be a part of this card.”
Promoted by Top Rank, remaining tickets for The Home Depot Center’s Rios vs. Antillon World Lightweight Championship fight card, priced at $125, $75, $50 and $25, can be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets and online at www.Ticketmaster.com as well as The Home Depot Center Box Office (open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). Suites are available by calling 1-877-604-8777.
For Rios vs. Antillon fight week updates, log on to sports.SHO.com or www.toprank.com.