SINGAPORE – There was a time when Brian Viloria got absolutely no love from Filipino fight fans around the world.
Amidst losses to Mexicans Edgar Sosa and Omar Nino Romero early on in his career, fans called for him to hang up his gloves for good. People claimed he tired easily, looked spent after fights, and that his end was near.
Simply said, onlookers were disenchanted with Viloria following a string of rather uninspiring performances. The fighter nicknamed the “Hawaiian Punch” used to plod around the ring looking for that one big haymaker to end fights.
It wasn’t pretty and usually resulted in lackluster performances.
To make matters worse, former trainer Robert Garcia abandoned Viloria mid-camp when the fighter was training for his bout with Omar Soto. Viloria ended up grabbing a split decision by the skin of his teeth against an opponent he should have put away easily.
It was safe to say that Viloria, a former US Olympian who once beat Nonito Donaire in the amateurs, had not seen his full potential materialize into quality wins.
And it wasn’t until Viloria started fighting in front of his Filipino fight fans deep in the heart of the Philippines that his career took a drastic turn for the better.
Leaving his mark
I’ve followed Viloria since he shocked the world with a one-round destruction of Eric Ortiz to capture the WBC Light Flyweight title back in 2005 and it brings a smile to my face to see him doing so well recently.
Viloria has strung together an impressive run of notable victories including wins over Pingo Miranda to recapture a world championship, Giovani Segura – a then pound for pound stalwart, and old rival Omar Nino Romero.
His next fight, which takes place Saturday, November 17 (Sunday, November 18 in Manila) is against hard-hitting Mexican Hernan “Tyson” Marquez at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles, California.
Marquez sports an impressive 35-2 record with 25 knockouts having only lost to crafty Filipino Richie Mepranum where he was out-boxed handily, and the bigger and stronger Nonito Donaire. He’s widely regarded as a knockout artist with the way he finishes his fights, hence the ‘Tyson’ monicker.
To add insult to injury, Marquez recently acquired the services of trainer Robert Garcia in obvious hopes to exploit the Filipino-American’s weaknesses whereas Viloria is now working with Freddie Roach protégé Marvin Somodio at the Wild Card Gym because long-time trainer Mario Morales had US Visa issues.
Viloria indeed has his work cut out for him to say the least.
This will be the toughest test for the 31-year-old from Waipahu, Hawaii. A victory of Marquez would be an early birthday gift for Viloria, who turns a year older on the 24th of November.
Fighting for glory
The Viloria-Marquez fight seeks to unify the WBA and WBO flyweight titles for the first time since 1965 and pits the top two ranked fighters against each other.
Fans often overlook the lower weight classes but this is definitely one that simply cannot be missed. It’s a superfight of epic proportions. The winner gets the titles plus bragging rights and becomes the man of the division.
Brian Viloria has come a long way from being the underachieving little man with big talent. It seems he finally struck the perfect balance between boxer and puncher.
With everything working in his favor – the speed, the skills, the experience, the determination and the heart – Viloria looks to turn in another classic and come out the victor.
Another Pinoy on the undercard
Also on the Viloria-Marquez card is fast and stylish Drian “Gintong Kamao” (The Golden Fist) Francisco (23-1-1, 18KO) who will be up against Javier Gallo (18-5-1, 10KO) on short notice.
Just a few weeks ago, Francisco’s camp entered talks to face unbeaten Cuban standout Guillermo Rigondeaux on the Pacquiao-Marquez undercard. According to manager Elmer Anuran, the two camps had reached an agreement for both fighters to mix it up but before the contracts could be signed, Rigondeaux went with Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym instead.
Francisco then got stuffed into the Viloria-Marquez undercard with just a couple of weeks to prepare.
Gallo should be easy work for Francisco who is also recently on a tear. Under new trainer and former Pacquiao strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune, Drian Francisco developed better boxing skills and looks to be filling the 122 lb. frame quite nicely.
The fighter from Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro is primed and ready to unleash his Golden Fists once again and brings his brand of awkward and unpredictable power punching stateside. – Rappler.com
Carlos Cinco is Rappler’s boxing analyst and a sports contributor. Read his boxing stories at www.fightcardboxing.net and follow him on Twitter: @CarlosCincoFCB. All opinions expressed in this article are his own.
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