The fighter in Brian Viloria
MANILA, Philippines - Professional boxer Brian Viloria has made the country proud time and time again. His ring exploits have been both entertaining and enthralling. Although he was born and raised in Hawaii, his parents are both Filipinos and Viloria has always been proud of his heritage
His biggest fight
On October 17, at the famed Madison Square Garden in New York City, Viloria will be challenging the newly hailed best pound for pound boxer in the world, Roman Gonzalez. Right after Floyd Mayweather announced his retirement, Gonzalez immediately took the spot boasting of an unblemished record of 43 wins with no losses, 37 by knockout. Viloria will be challenging for Gonzalez’s World Boxing Council (WBC) and Ring magazine lineal flyweight titles.
Although the fight was set earlier on, the fact that Gonzalez is now hailed as the best in the world makes it more significant.
The road to here
Viloria’s career has been a roller coaster. Although known to be a good boxer with a power punch, he has been inconsistent. Experts who take his fights one at a time have difficulty predicting his performance. His losses to Omar Nino Romero, Edgar Sosa and Carlos Tamara reflect a seeming lack of drive and focus.
Despite that, the “Hawaiian Punch” has shown a remarkable ability to bounce back after each loss. In fact, he has proven to be a better fighter every time.
After his loss to Sosa in 2007, my heart went out to him as he was relegated back to parking lot fights. I even did commentary for one of his fights held at a swap meet (flea market) in Vernon, California. He was part of the undercard of a small event.
It was even a rainy night without much of an audience to speak of. It was clearly not a place for a former world champion.
Many dismissed Viloria after the surprise loss to Carlos Tamara here in Manila, saying that he didn’t have the heart of a champion. Many have defined Viloria by his losses rather than his wins.
Nevertheless, he once again came back and won 6 straight fights. His list of vanquished foes included his nemesis Romero, and outstanding fighters like Hernan “Tyson” Marquez and then-pound for pound entrant Giovani Segura.
Just recently, the run was thwarted once again by a close decision loss to flyweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada, losing his World Boxing Organization (WBO) and World Boxing Association (WBA) titles. Whenever Viloria seems to be gaining momentum he slips and falls, causing experts to think that he may truly not be the champion everyone thought him to be.
However, in typical Viloria fashion, he has disposed of his next 4 opponents and scored 3 knockout wins, the last one dropping Omar Soto in the first round. His record now stands at 36-4-1, enough to gain for him the number 2 ranking in the WBC positioning him for this next fight.
Viloria’s strength and character
With just a few more weeks to the fight against Gonzalez, Brian Viloria bares his heart to this writer in an email conversation.
Why have you continued on with boxing this long, given the ups and downs of your career?
“Because this is my passion. Boxing is my life. I’ve always felt this is why I was brought into this world. Regardless of the trials and triumphs, boxing is as always will be in my blood.”
You could have leaned on your college degree and leave the sport but you have many times come back from losses others would have not. Why?
“I’ve felt those losses are what made me stronger. It taught me that life will never go the way you want it too (sic) , but if you keep fighting and keep believing in yourself when no one else would, you can do what others think is impossible. Giving up was never an option.”
Before Gonzales was proclaimed the pound for pound king, this fight has already been set. Did you choose him or did this fight just happen given your rankings in WBC?
“This was a fight I was interested in for a couple of years now. My management always offered a match to Gonzalez' people but they chose other opponents over me.”
It was a choice between Gonzalez and Estrada. Two of the best. Some say it might be too late for you, why are you fighting Gonzalez now?
“Perhaps, but why not go for the best in the division? Why not test myself to see if I still belong at the elite level? I honestly feel that my time is now and I am going to take the challenge head on whether anyone approves or not.”
Is there a bigger reason than just bringing home the belt?
“I have always wanted to perform on a huge stage like this. To showcase my talents in front of millions. I have won many belts already. It’s not about that at this point. When it is all said and done, I want people to see what I can do in this sport with my God given abilities.”
If you win what happens, if you lose what is the plan?
“We can worry about that later. All I am focused on at this moment is preparing myself the best I can and be ready for what will be the biggest night of my life.”
What does Brian Viloria want to be remembered for?
“That I gave it my all every single time I stepped into that ring. That I left it all in there and held nothing back.”
Viloria’s actions confirm his thoughts. The world has seen this Filipino pugilist come into every match ready to win. His boxing skills are appreciated and his determination to be the best is not often seen in a lot of other athletes.
And even if he talks with confidence and courage, He sends out a humble message to his kababayans, “Thank you for all the support and God bless you all!” – Rappler.com