The headlining fight this Saturday night in Aguascalientes, Mexico on “Latin Fury 14” features the return of Antonio Margarito, who faces Roberto Garcia. But what figured to be the best tussle of the night was a lightweight battle between Urbano Antillon and Brandon Rios, two young and ambitious fighters who didn’t figure to take many backward steps against each other. But Rios pulled out of this anticipated bout, as he was cut last week in sparring, which is a shame because many pundits believed this match-up could be a “Fight of the Year” candidate. But that’s the thing about fights of this nature. Fans and observers love them, but the fighters themselves? Welllllllll…not so much.
"Hopefully, it wouldn’t have been [a “Fight of the Year” candidate]. I was hoping to knock him out in the first or second round," Antillon said, laughing at the thought. "But Brandon, in all seriousness, it’s just a perfect style for me. He comes forward; I come forward and I just thought I was going to be the stronger guy. I’ve never been in a fight where I wasn’t the stronger guy. I just didn’t see it going any different this time. The only difference is now is, that knowing that I’m the stronger guy, I’m not taking it for granted anymore. I still gotta use my head and not get caught with those uppercuts and Brandon Rios has a decent right uppercut. I’m thinking that’s what they thought they were going to get me with.
"But we were working on things,” Antillon continued. “I just didn’t see how he was going to beat me, to be honest with you."
In Rios’ place is Nicaraguan Rene Gonzalez, who comes in with a record of 27-1-1 with 21 knockouts and one no-contest. This fight is a test of Antillon’s professionalism and ability to stay focused on the task at hand.
"Like I said, in the past we stuck on just one thing where I felt I was always stronger; we’re just going to impose our power and that was it. We’re going to wear people down and I was taking unnecessary shots in the process and y’ know what? It finally caught up to me with Miguel Acosta. He hit me with that right-uppercut about ten times before he knocked me out with it. So hey, don’t take ’em if it’s not necessary," said Antillon, earlier this week.
The loss to Acosta last summer (which was for the WBA interim lightweight title) was Antillon’s first professional setback, but even more than that, it spurred changes in his career. He left his long-time trainer Rudy Hernandez and, after a brief spell at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, California, Antillon situated himself in Big Bear with veteran trainer, Abel Sanchez.
"I’m just happy with what I’m doing, waking up and running, and everything," he says of his new setting. "I’m doing all these new things and just trying to learn, which I really wasn’t doing that before, but now, it’s just a different motivation behind it all." The move up the mountain to Big Bear, which was once the boxing home of such luminaries as Oscar De La Hoya and Fernando Vargas, is just what the doctor ordered for Antillon, who felt he had hit the wall in his development. "It’s been great, everything from doing sit-ups and I see the definition in my body. My mentality before [was], ’Oh, why am I doing sit-ups? I’ve never been hurt to the body.’ That’s your core, that’s where all your power, your strength comes from," he explained. "That’s one thing, and doing strength training, it’s just different, a different environment, just a change of address, getting away from all the distractions has helped a lot."
So why didn’t Antillon do this before? Well, according to him, if it didn’t seem broke, there was no need to fix it.
"I’ve always had people whispering in my ear that I did need changes; I did need that," said Antillon from Big Bear, a day before he left for Mexico. "But 26, 27 fights in a row with no defeats, everything was great. It didn’t really take the loss to let me know I needed a change, but it just made things a little easier. Now that I got a taste of it, I mean, when I went to the Philippines with Pacquiao, I saw the way he trains and it was just really motivating and it just motivated me to make the change and find my happiness. That’s what I seeked out and done."
Ray Alcorta of Top Rank, who has advised Antillon throughout his career, told Maxboxing. "I think he’s doing things now he wasn’t really used to before. You can’t really blame him when you’re not taught that way and you get to a point where you’re 22, 25-0. It’s hard for someone to say you’re not doing things the right way. It’s hard for someone to tell you to change your program. But after the loss, now the change of training, now he’s doing different things, a new training regimen that he’s not used to. I think he’s on his own; he’s able to see that."
The 28-year old native of Maywood, California, bounced back from the loss to Acosta by stopping Luis Arceo in three action-packed rounds in February.
"Right after the Acosta fight, I was so anxious to get back in the ring and just get on the winning side again," he said. "It did take me awhile- seven, eight months to get back in the ring. But then again, I look at it; it worked out for the best. Like I said, I moved on and found where I was going to be happy at. I tried Freddie Roach; he’s a great trainer, but he’s just too busy of a guy for me. I came up here to Big Bear for a couple of days where I was supposed to be for so many years. Yeah, it happened later on in my career; I wish it would’ve happened earlier, but things work out the way they do for whatever reason. So I’ll just run with it."
OK, did anyone else find the story on ESPN.com, from one Elizabeth Merrill, somehow blaming or linking the culture of boxing in the recent deaths of Vernon Forrest, Alexis Arguello, Arturo Gatti and Edwin Valero, a huge stretch?
Seriously, a guy gets car-jacked, and it’s somehow boxing’s fault? Another was a political pawn that hadn’t boxed in years, and that’s on boxing? And then you have another guy who was in a rocky marriage (one that every one of his colleagues from the sport begged him to get out of) and again, somehow that’s about boxing, too? As for Valero, yeah, there may be some validity to that, as there were a load of enablers.
But c’mon, why not just blame the boxing culture for the housing bubble that burst, unemployment and the recent decline of the Dow Jones? It has about as much validity to it, as far as I’m concerned. And while we’re at it, just state that Lawrence Taylor had fallen into the “boxing culture” that is so evil.
C’mon, this article reached more than Willie McCovey and Henry Akinwande combined.
But this is another reason why I think that “mainstream coverage,” which is so coveted by some in boxing, is completely irrelevant and overrated. Stories like this should have everyone hoping that the mainstream continue to ignore it, or just go back to the tired “boxing is dying” storyline they’ve been trotting out for years.
With the rematch between Vic Darchinyan and Nonito Donaire imploding, I’ve been told that Darchinyan and his representatives will look to fight the winner of the May 22nd bout between IBF bantamweight titlist Yohhny Perez and Abner Mares or even the winner of Israel Marquez vs. Rafael Marquez, which takes place on the same card at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Showtime.
There was some talk of recently crowned WBC 118-pound king Fernando Montiel, but it seemed as though Fernando Beltran/Top Rank don’t want to take away a possible option for Donaire, who now needs a dance partner.
But Darchinyan will perform on August 21st on Showtime at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California against somebody. As for Donaire, well, if it’s not Montiel, is it another appearance on “Pinoy Purgatory,” uhhh...I mean, “Power”?
Hearing that there is serious talk of a “ShoBox” doubleheader in July that will feature welterweight prospects Mike Jones and Antwone Smith (the 2009 Maxboxing “Prospect of the Year”). J Russell Peltz, who handles Jones, told me that they had come to a verbal agreement to face Irving Garcia next...Another edition of “Boxeo Thompson” will be shown on Friday night on Fox Sports Espanol...Did anyone read this week’s Sports Illustrated cover story on Ben Roethlisberger? Geez, this guy was a major league jag-off...It’s official: JaMarcus Bustell is the biggest flop in NFL history. I mean, he was the number one pick just three years ago and now he’s out on the street. Maybe he can move to offensive line; he’s heavy enough....This week’s edition of “The Main Event” has Paul Williams (who faces Kermit Cintron on HBO, Saturday night) and Martin Rogers of Yahoo! Sports....