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Danny Flexen speaks to the WBC title challenger


IT’S rare that a defeat can redeem a career, but try telling that to California-based Mexican Urbano Antillon. The Mayfield lightweight pushed WBC ruler Humberto Soto all the way in December and although he came up heartbreakingly short, Antillon did enough to warrant a rematch – on the May 7 Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley Las Vegas show – and erase from many observers memories his September 2009 stoppage defeat at the fists of current WBA king Miguel Acosta, a shock result at the time which rubbed out the Mexican’s unbeaten record.


“I don’t want to make excuses but I was never satisfied with the Acosta fight,” the laidback Antillon told me. “Just the way things played out leading up to the fight, and after the fight there were a lot of changes I made. But if I were to fight Acosta the day I fought Humberto Soto, I would beat Acosta very easily. With Soto I was satisfied because I gave it my all and I have no excuses whatsoever – nothing could have changed the outcome of that fight. I was well-prepared and in a good state of mind. You just go back to the drawing-board and change some stuff.”


The Acosta defeat still burns, despite the Venezuelan remaining unbeaten since crushing Antillon and, after despatching him in Mexico, scoring another notable away triumph, taking Paulus’ Moses ‘0’ via stoppage in Namibia. Acosta next defends against touted contender Brandon Rios on February 26 and Antillon believes the 24-year-old, another fighter yet to taste defeat, could be in for a shock.


“Rios is a straight-forward guy, he’ll be the bigger of the two,” mused Antillon. “When I fought Acosta, I remember him being pretty small. This will be a very different fight from when Rios fought [Anthony] Peterson because Peterson just couldn’t hold Rios back and pretty much got run over. Rios will obviously try to do that but Acosta has something to come back with and that could lead him to victory in this fight.


“They’re talking about the winner of Acosta-Rios taking on the winner of me and Soto, but there’s a lot of good fights out there. There’s also the IBF champion, Miguel Vazquez, who’s another great fighter, there are so many great fights at this weight. [Marco Antonio] Barrera is saying he has another year, [Juan Manuel] Marquez, that’s what I’m looking forward to, the big names that I’ve craved for so long.”


Standing in the way of those big names is hardened veteran Soto. In their first fight, Antillon lost by three points on one card and just one for the other two judges. Consider that the challenger was deducted a point in the fifth for low blows and it’s apparent just how near he came to bagging the belt. Antillon believes the rematch will be different, though has nothing but respect for his conqueror.


“I had never been at that level, never fought somebody of that high a calibre and with that much experience so it was definitely a learning process for me,” Antillon asserted. “He’d been in that situation before and knew how to handle it and that helped him get through.


“I never meant to throw low punches, it’s just where they landed and even when he [the referee] took the point, I didn’t think it was low, but it is what it is. It cost me the fight but I still wouldn’t have been a world champion with a draw. At the end of the day, I still don’t have that title.


“Hopefully that fight took a toll on him, and maybe I have the advantage of being a little fresher. But he’s a tremendous fighter and I brought out the best in him again after a lot of people were questioning him due to his recent fights. He proved this fight that he’s still got it in him.”


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