|Chris Farina/Top Rank|
By Randy De La O
Kudos to Showtime. Saturday night's fight at the Home Depot Center between WBA Lightweight Champion Brandon Rios and Challenger Urbano Antillon represented everything that is good about boxing; good matchmaking, a real rivalry, two likable opponents, great action -while it lasted - and a definitive, no-nonsense and indisputable win, a spectacular third round knockout of Antillon by Rios. It just doesn't get any better than this. Both fighters had an old school persona about them. Neither guy is afraid to mix it up, both can punch and both can take it. Last night though, Rios just took it better.
Going into the third round, it was still a close fight and living up to everyone's expectations, until Rios landed a right hand that put Antillon on the canvas. He did it again a little later in the round. Antillon got up and was about to resume fighting, until he started to stagger across the ring, prompting referee David Mendoza to halt the fight at 2:49 of the third round.
It's hard not to like a guy like Rios. He never stops fighting but he does get hit a lot. I hope he tightens up his defense, even a little bit. Guys like Rios never come out of the fight game undamaged over the long haul. I don't really expect Rios to fight any other way. It's not in his nature to fight any other way. Rios is my kind of fighter.
Congrats to Carlos Molina on his upset of Kermit Cintron last night. It was his will to win and his big heart that won the fight for him.
If the Rios vs Antillon fight showed the best side of boxing, than the Paul Williams vs Erislandy Lara fight, at the Boardwalk Hall in New Jersey, showed the worst side. Not so much the fight itself, which, while not spectacular and certainly anti-climatic after watching the Rios vs Antillon fight, was at least a good performance by Lara, who dominated Williams for most of the fight. What was bad, and bad for boxing was the judging. In a fight that was clearly and indisputably won by Lara, the judges awarded the fight to Williams. The judges should be called to the carpet for this fight and than tarred and feathered. Judge Al Bennett had the fight even at 114-114, Judge: Hilton Whitaker III had it115-114 in favor of Williams and Judge: Donald Givens had it116-114 for Williams. .
Williams had absolutely no answer for Lara's left hand. Lara, a southpaw, almost couldn't miss. Kudos to the HBO broadcasting team of Max Kellerman, Bob Papa and Roy Jones Jr. for making it clear that Lara was the real winner of the fight. I don't expect Williams to give Lara a rematch but overall I don't think the "loss" will hurt Lara's career.
Brandon Rios vs Urbano Antillon photo courtesy of ESPN
Paul Williams vs Erislandy Lara photo courtesy of Fightnews.com