'Urbano legend' in the making?
Undefeated Urbano Antillon ready for world title shot; Harris stands in the way Friday night
Story and photo by Chris Cozzone
Undefeated, with an eight-round kayo streak, lightweight Urbano Antillon stands on the cusp of big things – big fights and a world title shot.
Depending on the outcome of Friday night’s fight, that is.
Headlining a Top Rank-promoted card in the inaugural fight card at the newly-built 4,000-seat arena at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Antillon, 25-0, 18 KOs, of Maywood, Calif., will take on what he considers his toughest opponent to date, Tyrone Harris, 23-4, 15 KOs, of Lansing, Mich.
“I know his name and I know he’s a leftie,” says Antillon. “I don’t know much more than that. I do know, I don’t have problems with lefties.”
Antillon has had little difficulty with southpaws—or anyone else, for that matter. Three out his last five foes have been lefties—and none of his opponents have survived his power since Fernando Trejo gave him a hard time back in 2005.
“I overcame a lot of obstacles in that fight with Trejo,” says Antillon, who was able to pull off a win by split decision. “I had a bad cut and a hurt hand. It’s because of that fight, that I feel I’m more ready now than ever to make the next step.”
The next step, says Antillon, is fighting for a world title.
“There’s no question in my mind that I’m ready,” says Antillon. “But it hasn’t been from the fights I’ve had. It’s been from sparring.”
Though Antillon has fought some top contenders on Telefutura-televised main events (and now, Azteca America), the bigger names he’s been up against have been in sparring.
Antillon has put in rounds helping Manny Pacquiao prepare for his showdown, Saturday night, with Ricky Hatton. He’s also been in the ring with Edwin Valero.
Antillon is satisfied with his performance with Pacquiao—but he does want his money.
On HBO’s 24/7, a segment shot at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles had the Pacquiao camp offering $2,000 to any sparring partner who floored the pound-for-pound king.
“Okay, so I didn’t really drop him,” Antillon dispels the rumor. “Actually, it was more of a slip. But if they want to pay, I’ll take my money.
“But seriously, I thought I did real good with Pacquiao. I thought I held my own. He had me there for a reason.”
Early on, Antillon was beaten up in the gym by former greats Alejandro “La Cobrita” Gonzalez and Jorge “Maromero” Paez.
“I’ve had my share of ass whupping in the gym,” admits Antillon. “But that’s what shaped me. I was only 16 sparring guys like Gonzalez and Paez. I never thought I’d develop into being a great fighter, but sooner or later, I started holding my own against these guys.
“It’s true, I’ve had a lot more tougher sparring partners than I’ve had opponents. But it’s from sparring, that the realization hit me, that I could be a world champion.”
Antillon took up boxing while growing up in the tough neighborhood of Maywood, Calif., which is still his home. To keep Urbano and his brother off the streets and out of the gangs, his parents, born in Chihuahua, Mexico, signed him up for karate, but switched him to boxing, for financial reasons.
“Before you knew it, it’s 16 years later,” says Antillon. “I never thought about going back to martial arts once I started boxing.”
As an amateur, Antillon was 25-15.
“I wasn’t even an average amateur—I was below average,” says Antillon, who may be exaggerating slightly, for his simon pure days ended with winning the 132-pound division at the 2000 National Golden Gloves.
“It was just a fluke series of wins that had me winning that year.”
Ironically, 2000 was the same year Tyrone Harris—Antillon’s opponent Friday night—won, at 125 lbs.
“Harris, right now, is the biggest fight of Urbano’s career,” says Antillon’s manager, Ray Alcorta. “For, without winning this fight, there will be no championship out there.
“But we’re confident. Everything was done right and there are no injuries. The results will show in the ring.”
Alcorta promises that Antillon will be fighting for a lightweight title before the end of the year.
“We’ll take anyone—pick a champ at 135, I don’t care,” says Antillon. “I’ll fight any big name out there. If it was up to me, I’d fight them all on the same day.
“The time is definitely now. My trainer, Rudy [Hernandez] and I talked about this a long time ago. What else are we waiting for? We had a target date of 26 and now I’m 27. I’m not getting any younger and I’m stronger than ever. It’s time to do what we came to do.”
Antillon’s motivation took a dip last year, but he says that he’s mentally back on track, especially after his sparring sessions with Pacquiao.
“I got that flame back again and I’m looking at the big names out there now,” says Antillon. “Tell the top champs out there, we’re ready and we’re coming.”
Of the top lightweights, Antillon names Juan Manuel Marquez and Edwin Valero as the top fighters, but favors Valero over Marquez.
“Valero doesn’t have the name Marquez has,” says Antillon, “but, to me, he’s the best in the division. He’s definitely the hype in the division.”
Valero is no stranger to Antillon, for the two have mixed it up as sparmates—a search on YouTube will bring up the footage.
“We sparred several times and on one session, he hurt me,” admits Antillon. “So, yeah, he has a punch. There’s definitely something to the hype you are hearing about Valero.”
There’s something about the hype you are beginning to hear about Antillon, as well, says manager Acorta.
“The secret is going to be out soon,” says Acorta.