MANILA, Philippines - WBO flyweight champion Brian Viloria will treat his unification showdown with WBA titleholder Hernan (Tyson) Marquez like a do-or-die, back-against-the-wall, no-tomorrow fight and promised to score a resounding knockout in his first appearance in a mainland US ring in four years at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles this afternoon (Manila time).
Viloria, 31, is up against a tough opponent who at 24, is seven years younger and hungry to claim the Hawaiian Punch’s scalp. To prepare for Viloria, Marquez hired the services of the Filipino’s former trainer Robert Garcia with whom he worked for three months in Oxnard, California. Viloria, for his part, recruited Freddie Roach’s assistant Marvin Somodio to take over from Mexican trainer Mario Morales who was prevented from crossing the border because of visa issues.
Viloria’s manager Gary Gittelsohn said it’ll be a war to end all wars. “I expect this to be a Fight of the Year candidate,” he told The Star in an e-mail yesterday. “Rarely, in this day and age, do you see two fighters of this quality, each with extraordinary credentials, come together in a world unification contest. It’s a credit to both athletes that they eagerly campaigned for and accepted this match-up. My only regret is that this fight was not grabbed by either HBO or Showtime. There was interest but nothing (was) available on their crowded schedules.”
Both fighters made the flyweight limit in Friday’s weigh-in at the Biltmore Millenium Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Viloria tipped the scales at 111.8 pounds while Marquez checked in at 110.8.
“The fight will be an all-out war,” said Viloria who has won his last five outings, the last three over Mexicans Julio Cesar Miranda, Giovani Segura and Omar Niño Romero in that order. “No one is going to back down in this fight. It will end in me knocking Tyson out.” Marquez has won his last seven bouts since losing back-to-back to Filipinos Richie Mepranum and Nonito Donaire two years ago. Three of his last four victims were Filipinos Edrin Dapudong, Mepranum in a rematch and Fernando Lumacad.
Gittelsohn predicted a win by Viloria. “I expect Brian to win,” he said. “His resume sports a higher quality of opposition and he has been on a tremendous run since acquiring his third world title. Brian approached this training camp with great confidence, vigor and intensity. He’s in terrific shape and he has a well-conceived game plan for victory. If you love boxing, you’ll want to see this one – it will eclipse the lower weight classic between Michael Carbajal and Chiquita Gonzalez. I expect this fight to launch Brian onto a new elevated platform and make him a future Hall of Fame shoo-in.”
Somodio said Viloria is at his peak and Marquez hiring Garcia won’t be an advantage for the Mexican. “We’ve worked four months together for this fight which was postponed twice,” said Somodio who met Roach in Baguio and was brought to the US to work at the Wild Card Gym early this year. “I asked permission from Freddie if I could train Brian. Before and after every workout, I would consult with Freddie who gave me pointers on how to prepare Brian. Freddie kept reminding me to work on Brian’s right lead which is perfect against a southpaw like Marquez. Brian will do combinations but his best punch is still the left hook. Brian’s a flyweight but he punches like a welterweight. When I do mitts with him, my hands get numb with the pounding. He’s in tremendous shape.”
Somodio said what makes Viloria special is his intelligence. “We all know he can fight but Brian is different from the rest because he’s very smart,” he said. “He knows how to adjust, he reads his opponents well. I don’t think Garcia working Marquez’ corner will be an advantage for them because Brian today is so different from Brian of before. Brian is more mature. Ever since he won the WBO title, he’s been a brand-new fighter.”
Still, Marquez is a dangerous opponent and can’t be taken lightly, admitted Somodio. “He likes to counter like Juan Manuel Marquez and also comes forward like Marco Antonio Barrera,” said Somodio. “A fighter usually counters if he’s very confident, it’s like a waiting game. But if he gets hurt or is in trouble, he’ll charge in and try to stay alive. Brian will know what to do in either situation. I think Brian will hurt Tyson and when he does, I expect Tyson will fight back and that will be the end.”
Somodio said Manny Pacquiao has also given pointers to Viloria. “They see each other at Wild Card and they talk,” said Somodio. “Like Freddie, Manny told Brian to use his right against Marquez and throw lots of combinations. This is the first time I’ll be handling a world champion in the biggest fight of his career. Freddie won’t be in Brian’s corner for the fight. I’ll join Ruben (Gomez) in the corner.” Pacquiao and broadcaster Chino Trinidad will be in the commentary panel for the on-site coverage of the fight to be shown on GMA-7 at 3 p.m. today.
Referee is David Mendez of California while the judges are Jonathan Davis, David Denkin and Levi Martinez. Davis, a Filipino, was born in Cebu and migrated to the US in 2008. Denkin is from California and Martinez from New Mexico.
In the undercard, WBA No. 6 superflyweight Drian Francisco of Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro, takes on Mexico’s Javier Gallo. Francisco, 30, was lined up to challenge WBA superbantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux in Houston on Dec. 15 but the Cuban backed out, leaving the Filipino scrambling for an opponent in the Viloria-Marquez bill. Unbeaten Mexican Julio Ceja was initially mentioned as Francisco’s opponent but Zanfer Promotions eventually signed up the 29-year-old Gallo who enjoys a six-inch edge in reach and is 2 1/2 inches taller so the Filipino’s work is cut out for him. Francisco is coming off back-to-back first round knockout wins and fresh from disposing of Jose Carlos Vargas in Sonoro last Sept. 29.