LOS ANGELES — The final press conference for the anticipated lightweight showdown between Brandon Rios and Urbano Antillon was short and sweet.
The fight, which takes place at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., on Saturday, is expected to be the exact opposite.
Both Rios and Antillon know this, which is why neither fighter wasted time talking tough or exchanging insults at the press luncheon that was held at the Grand Wilshire Hotel on Wednesday.
"It's going to be a hell of a fight, no words have to be said," said Antillon. "It has to be knowing our styles and the type of fighters we are. We're just fighters, man, that want to leave it all in the ring."
“It’s time for the talking to stop,” said Abel Sanchez, who trains Antillon. “Urbano had a great camp. I know (Rios’ trainer) Robert Garcia has his fighter ready. Let’s get these warriors in the ring and settle it.”
Rios (27-0-1, 19 knockouts), THE RING’s No. 1-rated lightweight, seemed ready to settle things at the kick-off press conference that took place a few weeks ago. The 25-year-old Oxnard, Calif., resident felt that Antillon (28-2, 20 KOs), THE RING’s No. 8-rated lightweight, disrespected him and his wife.
Antillon, a 28-year-old veteran from Maywood, Calif., was already on the newly crowned WBA titleholder’s hate list for insinuating that his withdrawal from their previously scheduled fight last summer (due to a cut suffered in sparring) was not legitimate.
The two had to be physically restrained after the two-time title challenger brought up Rios’ wife during their staredown.
The fighters engaged in another heated face-off at Wednesday’s presser but there was no yelling, cursing or shoving this time. Both Rios and Antillon contained their rage, knowing that the fight is just three days away.
“We can’t wait for Saturday,” said Garcia. “They’re going to do their talking inside the ring.”
Rios reminded fans who tune into the fight, which will be televised on Showtime (in the U.S.), not to expect an eloquent debate once their brand of “talking” begins.
“It’s wartime, it’s not show time,” he said. “We’re going to be two warriors going at it. We don’t know how to back down. We're going to beat the s__t out of each other until one of us falls down. Our skills are pretty much the same. No skills. It’s just going to be a typical street fight. Is he going to be boxing? Hell no. Am I going to be boxing? F__k no!”
Squeamish fans who delight in the art of boxing might want to skip this fight. Those who relish a good old fashioned barnburner can expect a good one on Saturday.
Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, the promoter of the card, announced that only 1,200 tickets remain for the Home Depot Center’s tennis arena, where Rios-Antillon will be fought.
The intimate outdoor stadium holds about 7,500 spectators. Arum expects to have a full house on Saturday.
Those who arrive early will be treated to an undercard stacked with Top Rank prospects. The undercard is topped by a junior middleweight bout between former welterweight titleholder Kermit Cintron and streaking spoiler Carlos Molina. The scheduled 10 rounder will be part of the Showtime broadcast.
Cintron (32-3-1, 28 KOs) has not fought since losing a bizarre four-round technical decision to Paul Williams at the Home Depot Center’s tennis arena last May. In that fight, Cintron tripped and fell through the ropes and onto the concrete floor where he was deemed unable to continue by California boxing commissioners. THE RING’s No. 2-rated junior middleweight was harshly criticized by many observers, including boxing writers, who believed that he purposely dived out of the ring.
“It was unfair, a typical assassination by the media,” said Arum, who recently singed Cintron. “I believe Kermit will be a force in either the junior middleweight or welterweight divisions.”
Cintron must get by Molina first, and that doesn’t figure to be easy. Molina (18-4-2, 7 KOs) is a tough and capable boxer with underrated savvy. The 28-year-old Chicago native has also been active this year, battling undefeated prospect Erislandy Lara to a 10-round draw (that many believe he won) in March and then scoring a seventh-round TKO of hard-hitting spoiler Allen Conyers in April.
Cintron and his trainer Ronnie Shields know they’ve got a tough fight with Molina. Shields also trains Lara and was in the talented Cuban’s corner the night he struggled with Molina. Cintron sparred with the Chicagoan before his rematch with Antonio Margarito.
Also on the undercard:
Unbeaten lightweight fringe contender Mercito Gesta (21-0-1, 10 KOs) will face journeyman Jorge Pimentel (22-11, 17 KOs) in a scheduled eight-round bout that will be part of the international broadcast. (Showtime may show some clips of the fight if time permits.)
Gesta, a 23-year-old southpaw from Cebu, Philippines, now living in San Diego, has been mentioned as a possible future opponent for either Rios or Antillon.
Arum said Gesta’s style is reminiscent of Manny Pacquiao and described the young fighter as a “future superstar.”
Middleweight prospect Matt Korobov (15-0, 9 KOs), of Orotukan, Russia, will face San Diego-based Cuban spoiler Lester Gonzalez in a scheduled six- or eight-round bout.
Arum said his company has big plans for the former amateur star in 2012.
“We will be ready to put him in with anyone who has a middleweight title in the next year,” he said.
Korobov’s trainer, former three-division champ Mike McCallum, says the Russian southpaw has the tools to be a real contender.
“He’s very skillful,” said the hall-of-famer. “He’s got mad skills.”
Other undefeated young prospects who are on the undercard include light heavyweight Mike Lee (5-0, 3 KOs), the heavily ballyhooed Norte Dame grad who is trained by Shields; Jose Roman (10-0, 8 KOs), a lightweight from Santa Ana, Calif.; Paul Fleming (9-0, 6 KOs), a junior lightweight from Sydney, Australia; and Gabino Saenz (3-0, 3 KOs), a junior featherweight from Indio, Calif.
The first fight starts at 4:00 p.m. PT.