Pic Chris Farina
By Derek Bonnett: Sometimes a fighter is lucky enough that after just sitting around for awhile, taking on modest opposition, his opportunity arrives without having truly proved himself worthy of a big fight. Some fighters are even satisfied with this route toward a world title match-up.
Urbano Antillon is not one of these men.
The twenty-six year old lightweight contender from Maywood, California, USA, by way of Mexico, has been on the radar between 130 and 135 pounds since roughly 2007. In that time he has dispatched capable veterans like Wilson Acorro, Bobby Pacquiao, and Daniel Attah in building a record of 25-0 (18) and earning a No.7 ranking by the IBF and a No.2 spot in the eyes of the WBO. After nine years as a professional, Antillon thinks he’s ready for much bigger game.
"I will not sit back and be quiet about it anymore. I will be heard," Antillon professed. " I have called out all champions or former champions. The reason for that is that I want any big name out there. All I need is one big name to make a statement. I seriously don’t care who it is!"
Although he’s fought almost his entire career at the lightweight limit, Antillon did dropped down to 130 to capture the NABF title with his fourth round stoppage of Attah. Between the two divisions Antillon has plenty of names to call out, but it’s more than talk that the rising contender is after and the bigger challenges await him in the lightweight division.
" I have talked to my team about settling down at 135 pounds. After The Attah fight, I just didn’t want to make 130 pounds again," Antillon admitted. " Leading up to the fight everything was perfect (my training and eating). I didn’t have to sacrifice at all. But the day of the weigh-in, I just could not lose the two pounds I was over. I had never ever been in a sauna before that, and let me tell you, I then decided I was a 135 pounder."
With the recent attention the division has been garnering between the Nate Campbell-Ali Funeka and Juan Manuel Marquez-Juan Diaz world lightweight championship bouts on premium cable channels, Antillon seems to have made the right decision. The flames of excitement should rage even higher in the lightweight division after the April 4 lightweight extravaganza, featuring bouts between Edwin Valero-Antonio Pitalua, Rolando Reyes-Julio Diaz, and Jesus Chavez-Michael Katsidis, has been contested.
Antillon, who once sparred Edwin Valero, had some thoughts about the Venezuelan being granted the opportunity to fight for a world championship before him.
" Knocking out all of his opponents is impressive, but I feel that all of my career I have been over looked by everybody," Antillon reiterated. "So every fight and every opportunity I have to prove a point. I have taken hard fights early in my career. Valero getting his opportunity is great for him, but give me my opportunity!"
When asked about the legitimacy of Valero’s seemingly inflated KO record, Antillon responded, "He does have power. Knocking out his first twenty-one or so opponents in the first round is impressive, no matter what bums you’re fighting."
The future scope for Antillon encompasses a whole lot more than his old gym rival Valero though.
" The ultimate goal would be to fight and beat the best: Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Joan Guzman," Antillon stated. "But I do understand that before I get to them, I need to make examples of Juan Diaz, Julio Diaz, Michael Katsidis, and the winner of Edwin Valero-Antonio Pitalua. Beating any of these guys hopefully will open the door to bigger and greater fights."
Right now, Antillon felt the top five fighters of the lightweight division included Marquez, Guzman, Valero, Amir Khan, and himself. He knows the road ahead will be tough, but he feels prepared for everything he will encounter and when the lightweight picture is finished, it will be him sitting atop the rankings as champion.
" I have been in some tough fights, but the Ivan Valle fight was a great learning experience. I shouldn’t have had taken that fight so early in my career with less than one week’s notice," Antillon reasoned. "If that fight was to happen today, forget about it; I know I would have him out early. Before that fight my brother German said that I would not be able to box, but I had to after being hurt badly in the second round. There were a lot of mental and physical obstacles in that fight that have helped develop me into the fighter I am today."
Right now, Antillon is preparing for his first bout of 2009 on May 1 in Las Vegas. He will be taking on Tyrone Harris, 23-4 (15), in what he hopes to be the start of a busy year.
" I will knock him out in hopes of proving myself worthy of better opposition," Antillon explained. "As long as I am injury free, expect Top Rank to keep me busy."
A warning to all lightweight contenders: Urbano Antillon has arrived and he doesn’t intend to leave his presence unnoticed.