Aside from some one-on-one, in-your-face jawing during a face-off for photographers, both Brandon “Bam Bam’’ Rios and Urbano Antillon were well-behaved and civil to each other during Wednesday’s final press conference for their highly anticipated world title fight this Saturday, July 9, live on SHOWTIME® (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast).
Rios and Antillon had spent weeks jawing, and at one point the heated verbal exchanges nearly caused them to come to blows, but Wednesday at Wilshire Grand Los Angeles their focus solo was on Saturday when Rios (27-0-1, 19 KOs), of Oxnard, Calif., defends his World Boxing Association (WBA) lightweight championship against Antillon (28-2, 20 KOs), of Maywood, Calif., in the main event on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING.
In the Top Rank-promoted co-feature at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., former International Boxing Federation (IBF) welterweight champion Kermit Cintron (32-3-1, 28 KOs), of Carolina, Puerto Rico, makes his first start in more than a year against Mexico’s Carlos Molina (18-4-2, 6 KOs), of Chicago, in a 10-round junior middleweight match.
The SHOWTIME telecast also will include highlights from overseas as IBF super middleweight champion Lucian Bute (28-0, 23 KOs) defends his title for an eighth time – but first in his home country of Romania – against mandatory challenger Jean-Paul Mendy (29-0-1, 16 KOs) of France.
In top undercard, non-televised fights at The Home Depot Center, unbeaten, No, 2-ranked World Boxing Organization (WBO) lightweight contender Mercito Gesta (21-0-1, 11 KOs), of Cebu, Philippines, meets had-hitting Jorge “El Tigre” Pimental (23-11, 17 KOs) of Sonora, Mex., undefeated former Notre Dame champion Mike Lee (5-0, 3 KOs) of Chicago takes on Michael Birthmark (2-5, 0 KOs) of Billings, Montana, in a light heavyweight bout and promising super bantamweight Gabino Saenz (3-0, 3 KOs), of Indio, Calif., will try to maintain his unblemished record against Quinice Wesby (1-1, 0 KOs) of Dallas.
Tickets, priced at $125, $75, $50 and $25, are available at all Ticketmaster outlets and online at www.Ticketmaster.com as well as The Home Depot Center Box Office (Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). Suites are available by calling (877) 604-8777. The first live, non-televised fight Saturday starts at 4:05 p.m. PT. Doors open at 4.
What they said Wednesday:
PROMOTER BOB ARUM
“This is the fight that the fans want to see. A very limited number of tickets are still available and we are expecting a sellout. So get your tickets now.
“This is a fight that the casual fan will see and want to get back into boxing as real fans. This is the kind of fight that makes the casual fan a real fan of boxing. This is the kind of fight where they see that there is no other sport in the world as exciting as boxing.
“Kermit Cintron got a bad rap for what happened against Paul Williams. It was another typical media assassination. He was on his way to beating Williams and then somehow it gets written up that he gets tripped up and flies out of the ring like Superman and didn’t come back. That’s not what happened.
“There’s nothing in boxing like the passion involved in a neighborhood war. Unlike what I was used to in New York where we had distinct neighborhoods, here we have areas in Southern California which really have replaced neighborhoods. We have Maywood against Oxnard and people have been talking about this fight for a long, long time.”
“I am 100 percent and they say they are a 100 percent so that equals a big force that’s going to be in the ring.
“It’s not just SHOWTIME now, it is war time. There will be no boxing on Saturday night. We are both brawlers who will try to beat the crap out of each other. Our skills are pretty much the same, no skill … just your typical street fight.
“For the first time in my life I’m actually going to make weight days before the weigh-in. I can’t believe it. It’s because I’m working with my new strength and conditioning coach Henry Castro. He’s been working my butt off.”
ROBERT GARCIA (Rios’ Trainer):
“We are just days away and we can’t wait for Saturday night. All the work has been done. Brandon’s never been in better shape and has never worked as hard for a fight.
“We have a world title to defend here. This is serious business so there’s no more messing around.
“I can’t wait. I’m so excited, just like Brandon is for Saturday night.”
“The moment is almost here and it’s a day I’ve been waiting for for awhile. We are both tough fighters and we want to leave it all out in the ring and that’s what we’re going to do.
“We are two guys who come forward and that’s what we’re going to do on Saturday night. We will both impose our will and someone will get broken down.
“This is a pivotal fight for me, one of the biggest of my career. This is the goal I’ve always had for myself, to be fighting the best there is.”
ABEL SANCHEZ (Antillon’s Trainer):
“I think it’s time for all the talking to stop and to get these boys in the ring to settle this.
“We’ve had a great training camp and so has Robert’s guy. This is my fourth camp with Urbano and he’s finally gotten it – finally bought into the system. We totally changed his method of training. In the Soto fight he was tentative and not that confident. You could tell. And he was two pounds overweight at the weigh-in. Now there are no problems and we are ready to go.”
“It’s a great opportunity for me to be fighting for Top Rank and I thank them, my team, SHOWTIME, and everyone involved for making this fight happen. I’ve been waiting for my moment to shine and this is it.
“This is my first fight in 14 months and I’m ready to go. I’ve trained very hard. I think the time off did me good. Spending time with my family and kids did wonders for me and it gave my body a break. I’m re-energized and feel like I did before I took the time off.
“There is no pressure on me, but I’m actually looking to win the fight impressively. I know Molina pretty well. He helped me get ready for the second fight with Antonio Margarito and he gave me good work. Carlos is a crafty fighter who comes to win. I expect him to give it his all, and I’ll be ready for anything he brings. This is going to be a great fight.
“If everything goes OK on Saturday, my next fight will be back down at 147 pounds.’’
RONNIE SHIELDS (Cintron’s Trainer)
“Molina is a good fighter and a tough opponent, which is what Kermit needs. But we had a great camp, Kermit trained hard and he is ready.
“I’ve been asked a lot why we’re fighting such a tough guy after a year-plus layoff and the reason is that Kermit is one of the best fighters in the world.
“He knows Molina and I’d rather have Kermit fight someone that he knows is going to be tough rather than fight some guy he doesn’t know and maybe won’t work and train so hard for. If Kermit respects you, he’ll work his butt off, which is what he’s done for Molina.
“We wanted someone who would bring out the best in Kermit.’’
“Everyone who knows me knows that I come to fight and that I will always give my best in the ring. This is a good opportunity and I’m going to try to win all the way. I’ve been in some very close fights with some very good fighters so I have the experience to fight a guy with the experience of Cintron.
“I want to thank Top Rank and Bob Arum. I’m ready to go and put up a helluva fight.’’
“I’m very excited to be fighting for Top Rank and looking forward to a good fight on Saturday. I don’t know much about my opponent but I fought in enough tournaments during the amateurs to know how to deal with the unknown. I’ll just fight my fight and adapt when I have to.
“To be able to sign with Top Rank is as good as it gets. They are the biggest promoter out there and they know how to move a fighter and help us make a name for ourselves. I’m hoping for a good performance on Saturday and looking forward to fighting on a lot of their shows. I’ll fight anybody they tell me to.’’
“I want to thank Top Rank for this fight and I’m excited to be fighting on this card. I’m looking forward to showing the kinds of skills we’ve been working on in camp.
“I really want to thank my team. They are the reason I’m standing here at this press conference and they are the reason why I’m undefeated.’’