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It’s Time for a Nice Hawaiian Punch

Brian Viloria

Image by icheehuahua, MaxBoxing (& Doghouse Boxing)

By Bill Tibbs


Former world champion Brian Viloria, 32-4-0 (19) with two no-contests, will return to the ring for the first time in 2014 on March 29th at the Texas Station Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. He’ll be part of the Top Rank Promotions card featuring red-hot U.S. Olympian Jose Ramirez who is fast-tracking his way through the super lightweight division. While it might be a long way from the Vegas strip or other famous arenas around the globe that have employed Viloria in the past, it is his first step in getting another world title shot as he enters the final stage of his impressive career.
 
Viloria turned pro after an impressive amateur career that saw him win the light flyweight world championship in 1999 and then compete in the 2000 Olympic Games. He turned pro in the spring of 2001 and by summer 2002, he had moved to 9-0 and captured the North American Boxing Federation (NABF) light flyweight title. He would defend the title four times through his next eight wins taking him to 17-0 and a shot at the world title.

In September of 2005, Viloria knocked out Eric Ortiz in one round to capture the World Boxing Council (WBC) light flyweight title. His exciting, aggressive style and KO power were starting to bring a lot of attention to the 5’4” Waipahu, Hawaii native as well as expanding the audience for boxing’s big-banging, little men. In his second defense in the summer of 2006, Viloria would lose his title on a unanimous decision to Omar Nino Romero. In the rematch three months later, Romero appeared to have retained the title with a majority draw but the bout was declared a no-contest after Romero failed a post-fight drug test.
 
Viloria returned in April of 2007 to challenge Edgar Sosa for the vacant WBC light flyweight title but came up short over 12 rounds, losing a majority decision. He returned in 2008, putting together five straight wins. He then challenged for the International Boxing Federation (IBF) light flyweight title in April of 2009. Viloria picked up his second world title when he dropped and stopped Ulises Solis in round 11. In his second title defense in January of 2010, Carlos Tamara would stop him in the 12th round in a close give-and-take war in the Philippines.
 
Viloria would get two more wins over 2010 to close out the year, both in the Philippines where he had a strong and growing fan base. In the summer of 2011, he defeated Julio Cesar Miranda to capture the World Boxing Organization (WBO) flyweight title. He would go on to defend the title three times over the next year-and-a-half, beating Giovani Segura and old foe Romero. Viloria also beat Hernan Marquez in a fight in which he dropped his vaunted opponent in rounds one, five and 10. He also added the World Boxing Association (WBA) world super flyweight title to his trophy case with the victory.
 
That said, last year, in his only fight on 2013, Viloria lost his titles in a split decision to Juan Francisco Estrada in Macao, China.
 
And now the four-time world champion, rested and ready to roll again, kick-starts things in a ballroom a long way from the bright lights of Vegas’ famous strip.
 
And that’s OK with Viloria. This consummate professional has clocked into work everywhere from the site of the Alameda Swap Meet in downtown Los Angeles to the beautiful Venetian Resort in Macao and everywhere in between. Once the bell rings, it’s just going to be a seasoned pro doing what he does, wherever he needs to do it. After his last bout in which he lost his titles, the 1999  amateur “U.S.A. Boxer of the Year” was clearly frustrated and disappointed but vowed to “come back from this”, referring to the bout’s outcome as “a tough pill to swallow.”
 
Rejuvenated and ready to once again pursue a world title, the “Hawaiian Punch” will answer some questions this year about just how much he has left at age 33, not an insignificant number for lighter weight fighters. But don’t be surprised to see if he has more than a little of that punch left in the tank…enough to get another world title belt wrapped around his waist for the fifth time.
 
Don’t be surprised. Viloria has been written off before. There’s no reason he won’t prevail without fail once again.

 

Questions and comments can be sent to Bill Tibbs at hwtibbs@shaw.ca.


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