Photos by Sumio Yamada
BRIAN VILORIA TKO10 HERNAN 'TYSON' MARQUEZ
There are times when a fighter finds his best form later in his career. Brian Viloria is such a fighter. Viloria looked breathtakingly impressive when knocking out a game but outclassed Hernan “Tyson” Marquez in the 10th round of their flyweight unification title bout in Los Angeles on Saturday.
Viloria, 31, has always been a talented and hard-hitting boxer. There was a stage in his career, though, when he was inconsistent. There were some performances that could be described as lacklustre. He lost fights in which he was favoured to win, against Edgar Sosa, Omar Nino Romero and, shockingly, Carlos Tamara. In his last three fights, though, Viloria has not only lived up to his early promise, he has surpassed it.
Coming in as the underdog, Viloria made slugger Giovani Segura look like a novice in scoring an eighth-round knockout in Viloria’s spiritual homeland of the Philippines.
Viloria followed up with a dominant display in knocking out his old rival Omar Nino Romero in nine rounds, also in the Philippines — his first win over Romero in three meetings.
Then, on Saturday, came Viloria’s third consecutive win over a world-class Mexican fighter, his hugely impressive triumph over Marquez seeing Viloria retain his WBO title while capturing Marquez’s WBA belt, with the dual-championship victory giving him WBA “super world” champion status. Unable to match Viloria for speed or sheer, world-class skill, Marquez did his best to slam his way into the fight with an all-out assault, but just when it seemed he might have a chance of turning the tide Marquez got caught and dropped in the 10th round, with Viloria delivering one of the greatest left hooks you will ever see. It was the third time Marquez had been dropped in the fight, and although he beat the count there was no coming back this time.
This was simply the best version of Brian Viloria I have seen. It was a performance that had everything, with the big left hook providing an exclamation-mark ending.
The Viloria of this fight was truly something to behold. Yet it wasn’t always this way. Viloria at one stage seemed to be losing his way. He was underperforming. He now feels that early success had probably come a little to easily, admitting to feelings of invincibility after his first-round knockout win over Erik Ortiz to become WBC flyweight champion seven years ago at the age of 24.
“When you’re winning world titles in the first round it does give you a sense of over confidence, and complacency sets in,” Viloria told me in an interview for Boxing Monthly after his win over Segura. “I lost fights I should have won.”
Indeed, the magazine headline emphasised this part of the Viloria story “Why does Brian Viloria lose when favourite?” Now, though, Viloria has developed into a mature professional, with an understanding of all that is involved in being a world champion. “It’s such a big target on your back, and I think I understand how hard it is to keep yourself focused,” he said.
Viloria was certainly focused for the fight with Marquez. He backed up the younger fighter from the start, ripping in body shots from both sides, fighting like a boxer who knew he was going to win, that this was going to be his night. When Marquez tried to rally with a two-handed attack from his southpaw stance in the first round, Viloria dropped him with a beautifully delivered right hand through the middle. It put a punctuation mark on a masterful opening round by Viloria. Another Marquez charge in the fifth round again left him open for Viloria’s right-hand counter, and the Mexican boxer suffered his second knockdown of the fight.
Unable to time the much faster Viloria for counter punches, and with the points gap widening, Marquez had to gamble in an all-or-nothing fashion — win by knockout or get knocked out himself.
Viloria was making him miss but Marquez seemed to be willing his way back into the fight in the eighth and ninth rounds, only to get nailed by probably the best left hook Viloria has ever thrown in the 10th. Referee David Mendoza allowed Marquez to continue after the eight count but Marquez’s legs looked none-too-steady and trainer Robert Garcia’s signal of surrender was commendably compassionate.
The fight was the biggest so far in Wealth TV’s expanding boxing coverage. Apart from the main event, subscribers saw an undercard that included one of the world’s best fighters, the Nicaraguan Roman Gonzalez, who retained his WBA light-flyweight title with a unanimous but hard-fought 12-round decision over Mexico’s very tough, very game Juan Francisco Estrada.
Fighters such as Viloria and Gonzalez can, one hopes, revive interest in the flyweight divisions. “We put our heart and soul into these fights and have just as much skill as the guys in the heavier weight divisions,” Viloria told me, and Saturday night’s show confirmed the validity of these words.