At age 34, and evidently at the tail-end of a sterling career, Brian Viloria could have chosen a doughnut-knitted opponent to ensure that he will not go out flat on his back. Viloria has taken on some of the meanest fighters in the light flyweight (108 pounds) and flyweight (112 pounds) divisions and nobody would have raised a howl had he opted for the safer route to retirement.
Lo and behold, Viloria will instead look to turn back the clock this weekend when he faces World Boxing Council (WBC) flyweight king Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Gonzalez, 28, totes an undefeated and spine-tingling record of 43-0 with 37 knockouts and was recently accorded the honor “pound-for-pound” king by The Ring magazine. The pound-for-pound crown is a mythical title given to a fighter whose fistic skills, regardless of the weight classifications in boxing, are considered way above the rest of the competition. Not since Mexican Ricardo ‘Finito’ Lopez terrorized the minimumweight and light flyweight classes in the 1990s has a lower-weight boxer merited pound-for-pound attention.
Gonzalez is a class act, no doubt, but Viloria is not one to readily bow to the sport’s new pound-for-pound king. Viloria is easily the most accomplished opponent Gonzalez has faced. Viloria (36-4, 22 knockouts) is a two-division champion who has acquired the uncanny knack of bucking the odds. When Viloria was stopped in 12 rounds and sent straight to the hospital by Carlos Tamara in their 2010 bout for the International Boxing Federation (IBF) light flyweight title, not a few thought Viloria’s career was over.
Viloria rebounded by winning 10 of his next 11 fights. He became a world champion again in July 2011 when he outpointed Mexican Julio Cesar Miranda for the World Boxing Organization (WBO) flyweight crown. Viloria made three defenses of the crown before yielding it to Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada on points in April 2013. Viloria ran out of gas against Estrada, but he has looked strong in winning his last 4 fights, 3 by knockout.
Viloria has been flaunting a debilitating body punch in his last few fights and among those who succumbed to the solar plexus shot were Armando Vasquez and Jose Alfredo Zuniga.
Make no mistake; Gonzalez remains the heavy favorite in this fight. The WBC champ is a pressure fighter who doesn’t waste a single punch. Gonzalez moves his head well and knows how to create just enough room for his devastating counterpunches. Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada is the only fighter who came closest to beating Gonzalez, losing by unanimous decision (a verdict many opined should have been closer) in 2012. Estrada is the last fighter to go the distance with Gonzalez as the WBC champ has since knocked out his last 10 opponents.
Taking into account the impressive records Gonzalez and Viloria are bringing with them in the ring, it is no longer a surprise that their showdown is being hailed as the biggest little fight since American Michael Carbajal took on Mexican Humberto Gonzalez in 1993. Viloria and Gonzalez have a combined 79 victories between them and 59 of these wins ended in knockouts.
Viloria’s problems have been his conditioning and tendency to engage in prolonged slugfests. Many expect a hostile start from Viloria because he is very dangerous in the early rounds of the fight. It will be interesting to see how Gonzalez will handle Viloria’s super charged body assaults. Gonzalez has never faced an opponent who punches as hard as Viloria and the Fil-Hawaiian has lately been planting his feet and throwing bombs.
Gonzalez is a slow starter but there is no escaping his wrath once he puts an opponent in trouble. Gonzalez is the prevailing pick to win by stoppage within eight rounds, but truth be told anything can happen when you have two proven combatants in the ring. Suffice it to say, get ready for a huge war between two proven little giants.
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