Brandon Rios Keeps It Real

For someone so dedicated to telling the truth, Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios has had a tough time getting folks to believe him.

The WBA lightweight beltholder, who headlines this Saturday’s Showtime-televised card against Urbano Antillon, was dismissed as a youngster when he claimed he would become a professional boxer.

Most people still can’t handle his brashness.

“They just can’t handle the truth. I just speak the truth, I’m not trying to be a role model or nothing. That’s just me. I sleep like that, I wake up like that,” said Rios. “”I’m not trying to be hated, or trying to play somebody that I’m not. Sometimes people like it, sometimes people hate it.”

Ironically though, it is Antillon who has made the crude comments that have set off a raucous set of press events leading up to the bout. Allegedly, the challenger asked Rios “did your wife find your fuckin’ balls for you?”

“He brought my wife into the mix,” said Rios (27-0-1, 20 KO), who has often said his wife is the main reason he is a boxer, and not in jail. “That’s stuff you don’t do. I didn’t bring his family into it.”

Antillon (28-2-0, 20 KO) won’t be one to hide from his words though either. The high-paced contact fighter who came up short in a Fight of the Year candidate against Humberto Soto last year is more likely to meet Rios forehead to forehead in the center of the ring than he is to take a single step backward.

“I’ve been fighting boxers my whole life. He’s a brawler,” said Rios, relieved with the change in style.”My last four, five fights have been against boxers. I can’t go in there careless against them, because I’ll get myself knocked out.”

Indeed, Rios is not shy about his shortcomings either.

“He’s saying that I don’t have defense? He also don’t have defense,” said Rios.

At times, Rios has been accused of struggling to make the lightweight limit of 135 pounds, which he also doesn’t deny. His camp predicts one more title defense beyond Saturday’s expected scorcher, and then Rios has his eyes on an old rival from back in Kansas.

He and welterweight titlist Victor Ortiz, who faces Floyd Mayweather on September 17, are former friends and amateur teammates who have a longstanding feud that stems from their home gym.

“I don’t like the guy, he doesn’t like me,” admits Rios. “I was calling him out for a year at 135, I was willing to go up to 140. He wasn’t ready to fight me, now he’s calling me out at 147. It’s like, dude, you went up two weight classes to not fight me.”

The Lubbock, TX-born brawler is not buying into Ortiz’s squeaky-clean image, and chuckles at some of his obviously embellished comments during the Mayweather press tour, including claims that he had a vivid dream of the upcoming fight as a nine-year old.

“He’s a crock of shit. He lies through his teeth all the time. And it’s all good, people are finally catching on, I can’t believe it. They should have caught on a long time ago,” said Rios. “He’s a phony ass. But you know what? If that’s the role that he’s playing, the sweet innocent guy, and people are buying that, then he’s making a fool out of everybody else.”

Rios, however, is not out to fool anyone. Everything about him is authentic, and as close to the truth as you’ll find in the sport of boxing. He even admits that his eagle chest tattoo, so paramount to his rugged look, is yet to be finished because “it hurt.”

Pain, the kind he welcomes through his admittedly porous defense is a guarantee for Saturday’s main event. But like his time in the tattoo parlor, Rios insists it will end early—whether you believe him or not.

“It’s gonna be a fun night. But this one won’t go late.”

Corey Erdman is a host and producer at theScore on SIRIUS 158, co-host of MaxBoxing Radio, and Fight Network boxing analyst. He can be reached via email at, or on Twitter @corey_erdman.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.