Viloria to end Roman empire?

Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - October 9, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - It will be the biggest fight in Brian Viloria’s career and the Hawaiian Punch said he’s ready to bring down the Roman Empire in his 12-round bout against unbeaten WBC flyweight champion Roman (Chocolatito) Gonzalez of Nicaragua at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Oct. 17.

“Training was great – one of, if not, the best I’ve had,” Viloria told The STAR in a text message from Los Angeles yesterday. “I’m more confident than ever but I need to be smart and physical in the fight.  One thing that will lead me to victory is to put pressure and push Roman back.”

Viloria, 34, has held the WBC/IBF lightflyweight and WBA/WBO flyweight titles but is now without a belt.  He’s determined to dethrone Gonzalez but it won’t be an easy task. Gonzalez, 28, has never tasted defeat as an amateur with 88 fights or professional with a record of 43-0, including 37 KOs.  The Nicaraguan has won world championships in three divisions and with Floyd Mayweather’s retirement, is currently ranked No. 1 in The Ring Magazine’s pound-for-pound ladder where Manny Pacquiao is No. 8.

Gonzalez has won his last nine outings by knockout. Two of the nine victims were Filipinos Rocky Fuentes and Juan Purisima.  Another Filipino knockout victim was Eriberto Gejon who capitulated in a single round in Tokyo in 2007.  Gonzalez has notched nine wins in Japan, six in Mexico and four in the US. His manager Carlos Blando Viduarre is Nicaraguan but he is promoted by Akihiko Honda’s Teiken outfit of Japan.  

Viloria’s manager Gary Gittelsohn said it took several years to make the fight happen.  “After decades of ignoring the lower weight divisions, HBO PPV is now offering a platform to showcase this bout,” he said.  “Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions, who has done such a marvellous job promoting Gennady Golovkin and others, had the right slot to place the fight and therefore, he was a key factor in sealing the deal.”

The Gonzalez-Viloria bout will be in the undercard of the main event featuring Kazakhstan’s Golovkin against Canada’s David Lemieux in an IBF/IBO/WBA and interim WBC middleweight unification championship bout.  Golovkin, 33, boasts a 33-0 record, with 30 KOs, while Lemieux, 26, has a 34-2 slate, with 31 KOs.  

Last May, Gonzalez took out Mexico’s former world lightflyweight titleholder Edgar Sosa in two rounds in Los Angeles and signalled the rise of the Roman Empire.  “Gonzalez has been one of boxing’s best-kept secrets for years, the hardcore cognoscenti shouting his name from the rooftops in hope one of the premium TV networks would showcase his extraordinary skills,” wrote Kieran Mulvaney of Boxing News.  “He is a secret no more as the lineal flyweight boss made his HBO debut in spectacular style, annihilating Sosa.  From the first bell, Gonzalez showed the qualities that make fans salivate: perfect footwork and positioning providing the base for powerful, fast-flowing combinations.  After hurting Sosa several times in the first with left hooks, he dropped him with a crunching right hand early in the second and then floored him twice more with sensational flurries, prompting referee Raul Caiz, Sr. to wave the contest to a halt without a count after 2:37 of the frame.”

Sosa is one of several common opponents of Viloria and Gonzalez.  In 2007, Sosa beat Viloria on a majority decision.  Three other common opponents were Juan Francisco Estrada, Omar Soto and Valentin Leon. Gonzalez trounced Estrada via a unanimous decision in 2012 while Estrada scored a win by a split verdict over Viloria the next year.  Soto was stopped by Gonzalez in two rounds in 2011 and Viloria beat him twice, by a split decision in 2010 and by a first round knockout last July.  Viloria halted Leon in eight rounds in 2003 and Gonzalez finished him off in three last February.

Known as Chocolatito, Gonzalez was discovered by the late Nicaraguan legend Alexis Arguello during an amateur boxing show.  Vidaurre said, “Arguello showed Roman how to train, he saw a diamond in the rough and he was able to polish him … Arguello was the one who really made Roman Gonzalez.”

Gonzalez pointed to Arguello as his favorite boxer of all time because of his combination punching and skills.  “I was lucky enough to be taught by him and that increased my admiration for him even more,” Gonzalez told Paul Wheeler of Boxing News.  “He was a true champ.”  Gonzalez has often been compared to Arguello.  “I feel blessed that we can even be put in the same category but I know he was a better fighter than me,” said Gonzalez, quoted by Mark Butcher of Boxing Monthly.  “It is a big happiness that people compare me to him and it was a blessing that he took the time to show me how to box.”

Gonzalez said the best fight he’s ever watched on television involved a Filipino.  It was Manny Pacquiao’s 12th round stoppage of Miguel Cotto in 2009.  He singled out Estrada as his toughest opponent so far. “Estrada was very strong and counter-attacked very well,” said Gonzalez.  

As for his strengths, Gonzalez said his strong points are his knockout power, left hook and uppercut.  He brushed off a question about his weak points.  “I don’t believe in weaknesses,” said Gonzalez.

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