By Nick Tylwalk
We're getting closer to the main event at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, and it has the makings of a good one. It's Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios defending his WBA lightweight title against tough veteran Urbano Antillon. Both fighters like to attack, and it's likely this one is not going to go the distance.
Gus Johnson and Al Bernstein are on hand, and they narrate some highlights of Lucian Bute's victory over Jean Paul Mendy in his native Romania earlier today. There's also a lengthy promo for the 10th anniversary of ShoBox, including the announcement of a tribute to Nick Charles next week. In the arena, there is a moment of silence and a ceremonial ten-count for Bouie Fisher, George Kimball and Charles.
A four-man mariachi band is in the ring to play during Antillon's ring walk. He enters tonight's fight with a 28-2 pro record with 20 KOs. This is his second consecutive shot at a world title, as he lost a narrow unanimous decison to Humberto Soto for the WBC belt last December.
Rios also has a band playing, plus he has Antonio Margarito as part of his rather large entourage. Bam Bam is 27-0 with 20 KO victories, and he is making his frist defense of his WBA title.
The tale of the tape shows that these two fighters are almost identical in height, weight and reach. Bernstein does mention that Rios had just a little trouble making weight and is already thinking about moving up to 140 pounds, which is something to keep in mind.
Classy Jimmy Lennon Jr. handles the official introductions, and we are all set for a scheduled 12 rounds (but probably less!) of lightweight action.
Rios sticks his jab in Antillon's face right away. Antillon tries the body and gets whacked upstairs by a hook. Rios tries an uppercut-hook combo. Antillon lands some rough body shots and takes hooks to the head coming back. No subtlety here as both men are willing to stand and trade. Rios keeps pouring on hooks and uppercuts. Antillon also finds a home for his uppercut. Low right hand by Rios and he follows with a four-punch combination. Antillon responds with hooks to the body and an uppercut. The crowd is loving this already. Right-left combo upstairs by Rios puts an exclamation point on an exciting opening frame.
Tylwalk: 10-9 Rios
Antillon has a small cut on the bridge of his nose. That's not stopping him from coming forward again. Both fighters land some rare jabs before going back to the power shots. Rios is trying to get the uppercut untracked again. Antillon scores with his uppercut. Jabs land both ways. Rios keeps the nasty hooks coming. Rios goes to the head while Antillon works the body. The crowd reacts as Rios scores with a left hook. Both fighters landing consistently making it hard to keep up. Right hook by Antillon but Rios fires right back. Rios eats a left and two right hooks in the final 10 seconds.
Tylwalk: 10-9 Rios
Bernstein thinks Rios may have been shaken up by those final few shots. He doesn't look like it as he scores an early knockdown with a short right hand. Antillon beats the count and returns to the fight, but Rios senses blood and is right on top of him. Rios batters Antillon back into the corner with repeated left hooks. Antillon is still swinging, landing some dangerous shots of his own. Antillon ties up after eating two wicked hooks. Antillon lands a very low body shot, and even that can't dissuade Rios. Bam Bam lands a left hook and a vicious right hand, and Antillon is down again. Antillon makes it up at eight, but he has 35 seconds to make it out of the round. He holds to try to make it out of the round. The referee sees how wobbly Antillon is and decides he's seen enough. It's over!
The winner by KO at 2:49 of Round 3... and still WBA lightweight titleholder... "Bam Bam" Brandon Rios.
Bernstein thinks we could be looking at one of the sport's next big stars because his style is electric. Jim Gray congratulates Rios, who gives credit to Antillon for being tough but felt he was just younger and stronger.
Bam Bam says he actually did take some offense to some of Antillon's pre-fight comments and was able to use that to fuel himself in the ring.
Antillon says he respects the referee's decision to stop the fight even though he has the mentality that he would never quit in the ring. Shown the first knockdown, Antillon admits that Rios simply beat him to the punch in a fight where both men were constantly looking to throw.
Gray returns to Rios, who says he's ready for anyone at 135 pounds. Bob Arum feels Rios is the one guy who could match Manny Pacquiao in speed and power but needs to put on more weight and get a little more experience, so he sees that fight happening maybe in 2013.
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