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Rios wins the war

Ringside by Francisco Salazar and Miguel Maravilla
Photos by “Big” Joe Miranda

It had all the makings of a classic war between two heated rivals: Brandon Rios and Urbano Antillon unleashing hooks and crosses of insults to one another, further making the media and fight fans drool over the anticipation of a potential of a fight of the year candidate bout.

Albeit it was brief, the fight did live up to the expectations of fight-hungry boxing fans.

Not only did Rios successfully defend his title with a third round stoppage victory over Antillon on Saturday night, but he possibly solidified his standing as the top fighter in his division. Withstanding an all-out assault by Antillon, Rios stopped Antillon before a boisterous crowd at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The bout headlined a 10-bout card, presented by Top Rank.

For weeks, both fighters lashed insult after insult towards one another. As if the styles of both fighters were not fan-friendly enough, the talking done by both fighters leading up to the fight built up the fight much more. Although the 8,000-seat Home Depot Center tennis court stadium was only over half-full, the crowd was boisterous with each punch landed by each fighter.

Rios was making the first defense of his world title belt that he won over Miguel Acosta in February. Antillon was coming off a grueling and close 12-round unanimous decision loss to Humberto Soto in December.

Both fighters went right to work from the opening bell. A notorious slow starter in previous fights, Rios started fast, taking the fight to Antillon. Undaunted, Antillon was able to counter or land, particularly to the body of Rios. It was a scintillating opening round between the two Mexican-Americans that had at the crowd on their feet in the opening round.

The action did not let up in the second as Rios landed right hand to the head that began to redden Antillon’s face. Antillon was able to land uppercuts to the head, at times snapping Rios’ head back, and continuing to dig to the body. Although both fighters had their moments in the first two rounds, Rios seemed to land the more telling blows.

As the action and suspense continued to build, Rios dropped Antillon with a counter right hand to the head. After getting up, Antillon attempted to rally, connecting with right hands to the head and left to the body. However, Rios dropped Antillon a second time with another counter right hand to the head.

Antillon stood up on wobbly legs and tried to hold on. As both fighters were separated from a clench, Antillon staggered to his corner, almost going down. Sensing Antillon was not fit to continue, referee David Mendoza stopped the bout at 2:49.

Although Rios scored the victory, punch statistics showed the competitiveness of the fight. Rios landed 89 out of 199 total punches thrown, while Antillon landed 82 out of 189 punches.

Rios stated after the fight that he would look for another bout within the lightweight division and would consider a move up to 140 pounds. Antillon said that “Rios was much stronger I thought. The first knockdown took a lot out of me. I just got caught. He’s a very strong fighter.”

Rios, from Oxnard, CA, improves to 28-0-1, 20 KOs. Antillon, from Maywood, CA, drops to 28-3, 20 KOs. - F. Salazar

Molina upsets Cintron

Opening the Showtime telecast in a ten round jr. middleweight bout Kermit Cintron took on Carlos Molina in a Puerto Rico vs. Mexico showdown. Cintron returned to the same ring where he lost his last fight in a controversial technical decision to Paul Williams - it would prove as unlucky the second time around.

Molina proved to be the more aggressive and busier fighter, winning a ten-round unanimous decision.

The bout began with both landing the jab. Late in the round Molina landed a solid right to the body that stumbled Cintron, and referee Jerry Cantu warned Cintron for turning his back as Molina landed. In the second, Molina scored with overhand rights as the crowd shouted, "Mexico! Mexico!"

The upset-minded Mexican continued his game plan into the third, beating out Cintron with one-two combinations. Molina worked in the jab through the fourth. Near the end of the round, Molina backed Cintron to the ropes and landed a series of rights that had the crowd on its feet.

Continuing to press, Molina stuck to his plan as Cintron was backed up with jabs followed with right hands, Molina then got on the inside with an uppercut in the last minute of the fifth as Cintron began to bleed.

Working well behind the jab, Molina continued to follow with right hands in rounds six and seven as the bout began to take turn. In the eighth round, the action picked up for Molina as he backed up Cintron, working well on the inside. In the final round Molina continued to be the busier fighter by outworking Cintron.

All three judges had it the bout scored unanimously 98-92 for Molina

Molina was the busier fighter all night, outlanding Cintron, 251 of 558 punches, while Cintron landed 102 of 381. Molina also landed the more power punches 130 of 285 to Cintron’s 53 of 169.

“We trained 8 to 9 weeks there was no excuses - he couldn’t get off,” said Cintron’s trainer, Ronnie Shields, after the fight.

“It was a tough fight," Cintron said. "I’ve had a lot of them. It is what it is."

With the loss Cintron falls to 32-4-1, 28 KOs.

“I was not hurt at anytime," said Molina, now 19-4-2, 7 KOs. "I'll take anyone on next." - M.Maravilla

Gesta impressive over Pimentel

Headlining the non-televised undercard, lightweight Mercito Gesta overwhelmed Jorge Pimentel, stopping him in the third round of a scheduled eight-round bout.

Fighting for the first time under the Top Rank banner, the popular southpaw Filipino fighter did not disappoint as he dominated Pimentel for most of the fight, using his speed to get in and out. Gesta dropped Pimentel in the first round with a right-left combination to the head. Pimentel was able to get up and survive the round.

In the second, Pimentel had the no answer for the quick Gesta. Near the end of the round, Gesta dropped Pimentel a second time, this time with a right uppercut to the head. Pimentel was able to survive. In the third, Gesta was able to connect again to the head of Pimentel with another right uppercut, dropping him a third time to the canvas. Referee Raul Caiz, Jr. did not bother to count and waved the fight over at 2:23.

Gesta, from San Diego, CA, improves to 22-0-1, 11 KOs. Pimentel, from Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico, drops to 22-11 1NC, 15 KOs. - F. Salazar

Korobov decisions Gonzalez

Middleweight Matt Korobov won a workmanlike eight round unanimous decision over Lester Gonzalez.

Korobov started well in the first half of the fight, countering Gonzalez whenever the Cuban fighter pressed the action. When both fighters mixed it up in the middle of the ring, Korobov landed the more telling blows, equally distributed his punches to the head and body.

In the final two rounds, Korobov began to tire, allowing Gonzalez to land more to the head of Korobov. Although Korobov was dropping his hands, Gonzalez did not put as much pressure as he should have, especially in the final round. This allowed Korobov time to regroup and box around Gonzalez.

All three judges scored the bout 78-74 in favor of Korobov. scored the bout 77-75 in favor of Korobov.

Korobov, from Saint Petersburg, Russia, improves to 16-0, 9 KOs. Gonzalez, from Havana, Cuba, falls to 12-4-2, 6 KOs.- F. Salazar

Lee stops Birthmark

Light heavyweight Mike Lee remained unbeaten with a third round stoppage victory over Michael Birthmark.

Much has been said about Lee, a graduate of Notre Dame with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance, who decided to commit to boxing instead of a job in the business world. An amateur champion at Notre Dame, Lee enlisted in the services of trainer Ronnie Shields.

Lee dropped Birthmark in the first round with a right hand to the head. After Birthmark got up, Lee went in for the kill, but missed wildly at times, allowing Birthmark to recover from the knockdown. Although he was not able to match up with Lee’s strength and athleticism, Birthmark hung in there, even catching Lee with a few shots.

In the third, Lee dropped Birthmark to one knee with a series of right hands to the body. Birthmark got up, but overwhelmed again by right hands to the body by Lee. Birthmark dropped to a knee again, prompting referee Jerry Cantu to stop the bout at 2:54.

Lee, from Chicago, IL, goes to 6-0, 4 KO’s. Birthmark, from Glasgow, MT, drops to 2-6, 1 KO.- F. Salazar

Fleming knocks out Beltran

2008 Olympian Paul Fleming remained unbeaten, stopping Juan Jose Beltran in the first round of a scheduled six round bout.

Fleming landed two consecutive left hands to the head, dropping Beltran flat on his back. Referee Raul Caiz, Jr. began administering a count, but waved the fight over at 52 seconds.

Fleming, from Sydney, Australia, goes to 10-0, 7 KOs. He was also making his debut with Top Rank. Beltran, from Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, drops to 24-23-2, 15 KOs.- F. Salazar

Malfavon-Loeza in entertaining draw

In a crowd-pleasing fight, junior middleweights Ricardo Malfavon and Alonzo Loeza fought to a four round majority draw.

Malfavon started out aggressively, even bloodying the mouth of Loeza in the opening minute of the first round. Loeza, who was making his professional debut, did not have an answer for Malfavon, as his punches did not have the same effect as Malfavon’s.

However, Loeza, who hails from Gilroy, showed a lot of heart in the fight, fighting back and at times, backing Malfavon up in the second half of the fight. Both fighters traded punches until the final bell sounded.

One judge scored the bout 39-37 in favor of Malfavon, but the other two judges scored the bout 38-38.

Malfavon, from Santa Ana, CA, goes to 1-5-1, 1 KO.- F. Salazar

Saez TKOs Wesby

In a scheduled four-round super bantamweight bout Indio California’s Gabino Saez (4-0 4 KOs) scored a TKO over Quince Wesby (1-2) of Dallas, Texas. Saez began the bout by jabbing as Wesby circled the ring. In the second round, Saez scored a knockdown with an accumulation of punches and Wesby went down. Continuing with his attack in the next round, Saez scored another knockdown, landing a crunching left hook to the body. Wesby beat referee Tony Crebs' count but Saez landed yet another body shot as Wesby went down and the fight was stopped at 1:41 of round three. - M.Maravilla

Roman KOs Arrellin

Jose “El Gato” Roman (11-0, 9 KOs) of Santa Ana, California scored a first round KO over Randy Arrellin (8-6, 4 KOs), of Albuquerque.Roman wasted no time knocking down Arrelin with a left hook. Arrelin got up quickly but Roman landed a right, scoring another knockdown. Arrelin refused to quit but shortly after referee Raul Caiz Jr.stepped in at 2:07 and stopped the action.- M.Maravilla

Bonus shots

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