The Hurting Kind: Brandon Rios-Urbano Antillon Preview


Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios and Urbano Antillon threaten to turn the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, into an oversized abattoir when they meet tomorrow night over 12—or, most likely, less—rounds for some BMX lightweight title or other.

Antillon, 28-2 (20), is as much as a four to one underdog on some books, a surprising overlay given the fact that Rios was nearly stopped by Miguel Acosta in his last start and took enough punches that night to conjure up images of a chopping block. But Antillon has lost his two biggest fights and was stopped by a common opponent—Acosta—in 2009. Durability may be a question for Antillon going into the fight, especially when one considers the high-powered offense Rios, 27-0-1 (20), brings into the ring with him.

Even so, this has the makings of a rousing shootout. Contrast that to the Paul Williams-Erislandy Lara bout on HBO—heads up against Showtime—another Ross Greenburg/Kery Davis lost lunar landscape production intended to advance obscure agendas. Ostensibly, narrative continuity and branding are the reasons for many of these HBO head shakers, but if no one cares, why bother perpetuating manufactured storylines? In a simpler world, boxers would be matched based on competition, compatibility of styles, and public interest. With avaricious promoters, rapacious managers, shadowy advisors, and shifty backroom athletic commissions, boxing has enough troubles without networks playing cloak and dagger as well. With Rios-Antillon, two hard-bitten lightweights, we get to see a fight put together solely because of its potential as an explosive and competitive event.

Both men are relentless pressure fighters, with Rios perhaps having a slight edge in technique. Neither fighter will have to worry about being outboxed, and they are probably happy not to have to face the skilled moves of a Miguel Acosta or a Humberto Soto. Over the last year-and-a-half or so, Rios has gone from being a wastrel to becoming prizefight shorthand for action and, not surprisingly, mercurial behavior. During a June press conference, for example, Rios, 25, let out a outburst worthy of a scriptwriter from Days of Our Lives or As the World Turns. “Get out of my life and get out of this hotel!” Rios shouted at Antillon, bizarrely.

Antillon, coming off of a draining decision loss to Soto last December in a hectic scrap, will have to work hard to stay even with Rios in a bout practically guaranteed to be a give-and-take brawl. Outside of the ring, Antillon may be mellow—at least compared to Rios—but between the ropes he is as ornery as a Miura bull released from its pen. Within two rounds against Soto last year, Antillon scored with low blows, head butts, and a perfectly executed jujitsu toss. That kind of tetchiness may work to his advantage against a hothead like Rios, who might lose control entirely and leave openings Antillon can take advantage of.

On the inside, Antillon, Maywood, California, often stands with his feet parallel, making him susceptible to movement. Against Rios, however, this will not be an issue, since “Bam Bam” likes to dig into the trenches and mix it up. But Antillon also has a tendency to lean forward during exchanges and this flaw almost certainly means Rios will be looking to crank out uppercuts as often as possible.

Antillon works the body well, doubling up on hooks and throwing the occasional uppercut in close. When he steps in behind a jab, Antillon has shown that he can hook off it effectively as well. Unfortunately, Antillon has an underdeveloped right hand, and against a fighter as rough-and-tumble as Rios is, a versatile offense is a must. Archie Moore once said, “Box a fighter and fight a boxer,” but that was a hell of a long time ago, and today most boxers seem incapable of entering the ring with slight style modifications designed to exploit weaknesses. Whether Antillon has worked on improving his right hand—a useful weapon against any opponent, but more so against a fighter who can barely get out of the way of one—remains to be seen.

Antillon will also be entering the ring with one of the biggest bugaboos haunting boxing these days on his back: inactivity. More than seven months have passed since Antillon last entered the ring and no one knows how much his war with Soto took out of him—if anything—and having to find out against a swarming banger like Rios is like learning how to swim in whitewater rapids. Most fighters today are merely gym ready, so it is never easy to evaluate recent form, but Antillon looked wobbly at times against Soto, who is not a noted puncher at lightweight.

For his part, Rios, Oxnard, California, looks like he has to sleep in a rubber suit for two months in order to get down to 135 pounds, and if he leaves anything in the sweatbox, he may be ceding an edge to Antillon before the opening bell even rings.

If Antillon can force Rios to give ground by jabbing more frequently and putting his right hand into play, then he might be able to score enough to force a late stoppage. But Rios is the fighter on the upswing and Antillon does not have a significant edge in any tangible department. In the end, this fight may come down to who can take the most best. In that case, Rios proved against Acosta that he can take a lacing and persevere to win. Antillon has yet to prove that he can do the same.

Spoiler or steppingtone—Antillon has his options, limited as they are, clearly laid out before him. Most prizefighters know what the latter leads to in boxing, and none of them look forward to $10,000 paydays on Fox Sports or short money against house fighters. Judging by the effort Antillon put in against Soto last December, he wants to avoid that at all costs. What neither fighter can avoid tomorrow night, except by one of the strange quirks of fortune or misfortune this sport regularly specializes in, are the small objects, quotidian in boxing but rarely ever seen: Icepacks, Epsom salt, Excedrin.


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Tags: Brandon Rios Humberto Soto Lightweights Urbano Antillon

  • johnpaulfutbol


    Great preview as usual, I can’t wait for this fight. Who the hell needs narrative or branding when you have two guys that just come to fight. Unfortunately that is a rarity. Then again so is a Mexican berserker, and tomorrow night we’ll have two of them in the same ring. Up until now berserkers were only thought to be indigenous to Northern Europe. I don’t count berserkers who berserk after smoking angel dust or huffing spray paint, those can be found anywhere.

    I expect this to be sort of like a video game with two dudes just going apeshit mashing buttons, but one dude’s stamina bar decreasing at a more rapid rate….that being Antillon. That’s my expert take!

    Anyway, I have great seats to this fight, really looking forward to it. Also, strangely looking forward to the Cintron/Molina fight. I’m sure it’ll be a lively crowd. I’m taking my brother, who is an aspiring psychopath and one of my high school buddies…who constantly says stuff like “I don’t get why he just doesn’t throw more uppercuts, he’d fuck him up.” Perhaps my foam dome of whiskey will cut down on my ability to hear that sort of thing? My effort to save boxing will be my “LIVETWEETING” the fight from my fancy new droid phone, cyberspace will be very appreciative….I’m quite sure.

    • Carlos Acevedo

      Hi JPF,

      lookit that–paying your hard-earned (I think!) money to see Rios & JCC Jr. & also….Andre Ward. Something is not right here; you ruined my point somewhere along the way. Anyway, I guess I’m saying you wouldn’t pay to see Chad Dawson fight or some of the barkers running around the ring these days or attend a fight just to see the next chapter in an HBO P-4-P fiction….

      I think you’ll have a great time at the fights…I wish I could afford to go see more fights–I used to go to fights all the time and then I started TCS and stopped going. I wonder what that means. Actually, they are too expensive in NYC and if you want to see some of the crap DiBella puts on it’s like $50. Fuck that, I’d rather buy some artisan cheese.

      Rios-Antillon should be fun. Rios is such a defensive nightmare that I don’t rule Antillon out, although I expect Rios to come through. Rios is like Juan Manuel Lopez, a big puncher who will struggle with any solid prizefighter, as we saw with Salido. Rios is that bad defensively, I think. The question is, does Antillon count as a solid professional fighter?

      All you need is Rocky Rob to round out your crew out there in Carson…and you might also run into the next Damon Runyon out there, except 50 pounds heavier and with a feedbag of pork rinds strapped to his face!

      • johnpaulfutbol


        yeah, hard earned money is right! It does get expensive going to the fights. I’d thought that my addiction to Belgian ales and Scotch was my only vice….maybe boxing counts too? Feels that way when I get my bill for the HBO/Showtime subsription every month. But, I had a blast at that JCC Jr. fight and I anticipate the same tonight. The good thing about seeing fights at the Home Depot Center is that for $25 you can get what would be the equivalent of a $100 ticket or something in a bigger arena. No idea why it isn’t considered as a venue more often. They wouldn’t have to block out half the arena with a giant black curtain like they do at the Staples Center.

        I’m not ruling Antillon out either, just thinking that Rios should be too much for him. The Lopez comparison is a good one, I hadn’t made that connection…..but I see it now!

        Damon Runyon, now that is pretty funny, but the next Dan Rafael might be more appropriate. No way I can improve upon the circumstances of that chance encounter at the Darchinyan/Perez fight. What are the odds that we of all people are sitting in his seats? I’ll say this boxing is a very small world it seems, you run into the same characters at almost every fight…at least the ones I’ve been to.

        No idea what it means that you don’t go to fights anymore since starting TCS. You’ve probably been outlawed! The east coast seems to be neglected when it comes to decent/good fights. But, I’m thinking that we should create a line of TCS merchandise. Licensed T-shirts, artisan cheese gift baskets, bottle openers, trucker hats etc. Then you could afford to travel around fighting the good fight, saving boxing.

  • johnpaulfutbol


    Let’s add some umlauts to the “u” and the “o” in “the Cruelest Sport.” It might help drive sales of the TCS t-shirts….either that, or I need to quit listening to “Ace of Spades” and “Overkill.”