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Packing a Hawaiian Punch

(Photo © German Villasenor, MaxBoxing)
(Photo © German Villasenor, MaxBoxing)


Capping off what was an entertaining night at the L.A. Sports Arena, Brian Viloria not only unified the WBO and WBA flyweight belts by impressively dispatching Hernan “Tyson” Marquez over 10 heated rounds, “The Hawaiian Punch” stamped himself as one of the premiere prizefighters in the world. In the past, Viloria always left you wondering if he could put it all together. Nowadays, he exhibits a complete arsenal. All the past loose ends are now bundled up tightly and form a complete fighting machine.
 
Boxing, punching, going to the body, working off the jab, employing movement, slipping and countering - it’s all there now. It’s taken awhile but he has arrived as a complete, polished fighter. In the past, Viloria was a talented - yet incomplete - fighter who was prone to inconsistent and spotty outings. Part of the reason he was able to win two major world titles in the past was because of his great natural talent and physical tools. But the reason he never held those titles for more than a cup of coffee (against the likes of Omar Nino and then Carlos Tamara) was due to a lack of a real ring identity.

Viloria’s grab bag has been replaced by a full toolbox of talents that are now executed at a high level.
 
“I accept who I am now and I’m working hard. There’s no secrets,” he said of his renaissance. At age 31, he has finally intersected his God-given physical gifts with a fundamental grounding and understanding of the sport. “I think it’s a combination of both. Just maturing through the years and just putting a lot of hard work, just waking up early, doing my runs and the necessary work to get ready for each fight. I think I did that for tonight.”
 
So just when did the light bulb turn on for this former 2000 U.S. Olympian?
 
“When I was in the hospital after the Tamara fight,” said Viloria, of that fateful night in January of 2010, when he fell apart late in the final seconds of that fight and was taken for observation for a few days. “I was like, ‘I can’t find myself in this position again. I have to prepare myself 110,120 percent for each fight. I saw my wife crying in the corner; I can’t have her go through this again. So I dedicated myself and refocused on my craft, just did the necessary work for each fight.”
 
Viloria began the night by setting a quick pace on the hard-hitting Mexican southpaw and did early work downstairs. It was the foundation of his attack. “I had to go to the body. I knew through some of the videos that they were going to look for my left hook on top,” explained Viloria, who improved his mark to 32-3 (19). “He left his body wide open and I was like, ‘Ohhh.’ I could see that a mile away. I just went down and attacked him. I think that slowed him down early in the fight and took some of the power in his punches and I got to work on my combinations on top later on.”
 
Every time Marquez pressed the attack, he was met by the blazing counterpunches of Viloria, who got stunned a few times in this heated contest. After a trip to the canvas in the first, Marquez seemed to have Viloria reeling in the fifth frame but was sent to the floor again by another counterpunch that came out of nowhere. Then in the 10th, as Marquez was staging a late rally, he was hit by a lethal left hook that left him on his back and dazed. “I played a little bit of the rope-a-dope,” explained Viloria, who finished Marquez a short time later when his former trainer, Robert Garcia, threw in the towel.
 
Viloria said this victory, “Has to be in the top two,” alongside his conquest last year of Giovani Segura.
 
Make no doubt about it; he’s been here for awhile. It’s just now that he has truly arrived.
 
“He sure has,” said his beaming manager/adviser, Gary Gittelsohn. “Look at who he’s beaten in the last four fights. [Julio Cesar] Miranda, Omar Nino - he put an exclamation mark on - Segura, who was a pound-for-pound guy and now ‘Tyson’ Marquez, who a lot of people didn’t give Brian a chance. They thought he had power in both hands. People were talking about Robert Garcia giving away all his secrets.
 
“I mean, c’mon; we saw what Brian did. It was magnificent.”
 
CHOCOLATITO
 
So how ‘bout a showdown between Viloria and Roman Gonzalez (who impressively beat the game Juan Francisco Estrada in a back-and-forth 12-rounder) in 2013?
 
“Of course,” said Viloria, of that possibility. “The only thing I can do is put up great fights.”
 
But the question is, will the premium cable networks purchase this fight? Or will their subscribers be subjected to more Chad Dawson?
 
Gittelsohn, who tried in vain to get this past weekend’s fights on a larger stage, told Maxboxing on Saturday night, “My  immediate thoughts are that HBO and Showtime need to get a copy of these fights to see ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez, who is only eclipsed by the Viloria-Marquez fight. This was a fight that should’ve been on a premium cable network and we knew it going in and these guys exhibited skills and athleticism that should’ve been seen by more people. I’m so thrilled for Brian and this is going to put him on a different platform.”
 
So is Viloria vs. Gonzalez next on the docket?
 
“Sure, the purpose of having him on the card as a support to Brian was to introduce people - both fighters - so they could make a comparison. So we’re going to talk about it. I don’t know if Roman Gonzalez wants to move up in weight right away. He expressed some reservation before and we have to talk to the organizations to see what the mandatory situation is. We haven’t evaluated that yet. But Roman Gonzalez, yeah, Brian needs challenges. If he’s proven anything in his career, it’s that he rises to challengers and Gonzalez is the challenge now,” Gittelsohn stated.
 
Bottom line, like a Mares-Moreno, this is a fight the hardcore fight fan yearns for. It may not have the magnitude of Michael Carbajal vs. Chiquita Gonzalez but, at the very least, it’s the type of fight that was once a staple of the “Boxing After Dark” franchise. No, perhaps you can’t headline a card on HBO or Showtime with flyweights (unfortunately, in this instance, size does matter) but it certainly is something that fits it as an undercard appetizer; doesn’t it?
 
But ask yourself this: if you had your druthers, would you rather see the second go-round of Dawson and Jean Pascal (http://www.boxingscene.com/dawson-pascal-rematch-on-3-23-on-hbo-says-shaw--59424) or Viloria-Gonzalez – which, by the way, would come at the fraction of the price for the network - what are you choosing? But maybe, agendas trump what the audience wants to see.
 
Yeah, Viloria and Gonzalez are little guys - but little guys who fight big. It’s time for this glass ceiling (or is it the “glass basement”?) to be shattered.
 
FIGHT ON?
 
Word is that the WBC heavyweight elimination bout between Chris Arreola and Bermane Stiverne, which was to have taken place on December 15th in Venezuela, will now be moved to the undercard on HBO before Andre Ward presumably faces Kelly Pavlik. Basically, Don King is selling off that fight to Dan Goossen, who has this date. In the running to stage that card on January 26th is the Galen Center, the basketball home of the USC Trojans. There has been a lot of talk in recent years of boxing coming to this venue (those who have been there will tell you it would be ideal for boxing and it’s considered one of the premiere facilities in the Pac-12).
 
Just my opinion but I think the Galen Center could be a very good option for promotions that have good match-ups but are really ill-suited to be inside a building as big as the Staples Center and in the winter months when the Home Depot Center isn’t viable.
 
HBO
 
Love or loathe Adrien Broner but the bottom line is, he is truly a “Problem” for anyone at 135 and he proved that by dominating Antonio DeMarco over eight innings in Atlantic City on Saturday night. There’s no doubt with his antics and persona, that he is a polarizing figure (personally, I find him highly amusing) but this guy has serious talent and will be a tough out for anyone he’s matched with. The sport not only needs talents, it also needs personalities. He seems to have an abundance of both.
 
On this card’s opening fight, Johnathon Banks pulled the upset by stopping Seth Mitchell in two rounds. Rarely do you see storybook endings play out in this sport but it happened here as Banks, fighting for the memory and legacy of his mentor, Emanuel Steward, was able to stun the former Michigan State linebacker and then floor him three times. As for Mitchell, this was a harsh dose of reality. He’s actually come pretty far for a guy who didn’t even hit his first heavybag till the age of 25. But with this late start comes certain limitations. While taking on pulling guards was something he did naturally over the years, taking a good punch on the chin wasn’t. Freddie Roach told me last year that while football players are certainly great athletes and work hard in the gym, the ability (or is it inability?) to take a good shot was something many of them lacked.
 
It’s not natural to take punches to the grill. In many ways, just like any other skill in boxing such as throwing a jab or hook, this is something that has to be honed over time.
 
FINAL FLURRIES
 
Believe it or not, it seemed like the majority of the crowd at the L.A. Sports Arena were Nicaraguans, there to support Gonzalez...Hopefully for December 15th, the Sports Arena will provide internet access and power strips for the media - or set up a real press row...It looks like differences in weight will prevent the Puerto Rican grudge match between “JuanMa” Lopez and Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. from taking place on January 19th in New York. So the hunt is on for another fight on what will be an HBO tripleheader (that already has Gennady Golovkin and Orlando Salido facing Mikey Garcia). One fight being discussed for that card is Rocky Martinez taking on J.C. Burgos...It looks like Michael Farenas is the new foe for Yuriorkis Gamboa on December 8th...Light heavyweight beltholder Tavoris Cloud has hooked up with James Prince. Prince and Don King, yeah, this could get interesting...Is this becoming a magical year for Notre Dame or what? Yeah, it makes me ill...Two years in a row, Oregon simply could not protect its home field with a shot at the national title on the line...Could “Johnny Football” really win the Heisman as a freshman?...Yeah, the Andy Reid era in Philly is over, right?...Seriously, what’s going on with Andrew Bynum’s hair? It’s a bigger mess than the Eagles offensive line...I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.
 


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