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[SPORTS] Brian Viloria - Filipino Boxer from Hawaii

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  • madchinaman
    He s Learned No Man Is an Island in Fight Game Bill Dwyre http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-dwyre26aug26,1,595532.column - Height: 5 4 Weight: 112 Born:
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 28, 2006
      He's Learned No Man Is an Island in Fight Game
      Bill Dwyre


      Height: 5' 4"
      Weight: 112
      Born: November 24, 1980
      Birthplace: Honolulu, HI
      Nickname: "Hawaiian Punch"


      Boxer Brian Viloria weighs 108 pounds, about the same as George
      Foreman's left leg.

      He fights in a weight class called light-flyweight. That's like
      being a small miniature Chihuahua.

      He was champion of the world, or at least that part recognized by
      the World Boxing Council, until Aug. 10, when another small
      miniature Chihuahua, Omar Nino of Mexico, had more bite than
      Viloria's bark. Nino won a unanimous decision, taking away Viloria's
      title in his second defense, at the Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas.

      For Viloria, a Hawaiian who spent some of his young life in the
      Philippines and who may be among the world's better athletes — pound
      for pound, as they say in boxing — the defeat was no small trauma.
      Nor was it the end of a roller-coaster ride he has been on for the
      last 15 months.

      On May 28, 2005, Viloria won a match at Staples Center against an
      undistinguished Mexican fighter named Ruben Contreras.

      In the middle of the fight, Contreras,

      bleeding from the nose, stopped fighting, turned away from Viloria
      and walked to his corner, telling the referee he was done. Leaving
      the ring, he said he felt faint and he soon collapsed, experiencing
      a seizure.

      Doctors later said that, had he not been so close to a hospital and
      had emergency personnel not reacted quickly, Contreras would have

      By the time Viloria was told what had happened, as he stepped out of
      the shower after the fight, Contreras was having brain surgery.

      Suddenly, Viloria, the "Hawaiian Punch" from the city of Waipahu,
      which overlooks Pearl Harbor, was not sure his career goals were the
      same as they had been an hour earlier.

      He started boxing when he was 6, partly because his younger brother,
      Gaylord, who now stands 6 feet and weighs 250, beat him up a lot.
      Their father, Ben, took Brian to a gym for lessons.

      Later, squeezing boxing into a high school schedule that included
      state competition in wrestling and tennis, plus performing in the
      band — he plays woodwinds — Viloria became a world-class amateur

      When it came time for college, he found an Olympic program for
      boxers at Northern Michigan, certainly the last choice of schools
      for somebody from Hawaii. But Viloria took off for Marquette, Mich.,
      in the state's Upper Peninsula, where he quickly discovered a
      pressing need for gloves and headgear — the warm kind.

      He stayed 2 1/2 years, had nearly 300 amateur fights, won all but
      eight or nine of those, won the world championship in 1999 by
      beating an Olympic gold medalist, and then became the first of
      several Americans who suffered controversial defeats at the 2000
      Sydney Olympics when he lost in the second round to Frenchman Brahim
      Asloum, the eventual gold medalist.

      The score was 8-6 and the bout was controversial in that neither
      fighter was given points for body punches, of which Viloria threw

      "He came right out with his hands high, inviting body punches,"
      Viloria says. "So I took the opening."

      He was the last of that Olympic crop to become a pro, but when Bob
      Arum and Top Rank signed him and he quickly grew in reputation, if
      not in stature, there was talk that he could be the next Michael
      Carbajal, the only fighter under 125 pounds to ever fight for a
      seven-figure purse.

      But the Contreras fight nearly ended all that. Asked if he ever
      would have climbed back in the ring if Contreras hadn't climbed out
      of his hospital bed, Viloria grimaced and shook his head.

      The night of Sept. 10, 2005, brought Viloria back to the Staples
      Center boxing ring. Before he stepped into it, he walked over and
      hugged a man sitting at ringside.

      "I told Ruben, 'Thank God you are here,' " Viloria says. "I told him
      I would dedicate the fight to him."

      The bell rang and, exactly 2 minutes 59 seconds later, or one second
      shy of the end of the first round, Viloria was ready to climb back
      out. He had caught WBC champion Eric Ortiz, who was expected to give
      him a full 12 rounds, with a straight right knockout punch. Weeks
      after nearly quitting, Viloria was a world champion.

      Ring announcer Michael Buffer handed him the microphone, Viloria
      announced that he had dedicated the fight to Contreras, and then
      spoke in Tagalog, the native language of the Philippines.

      Boxing in the feature event that night was Manny Pacquiao, the
      Filipino who is bigger in his country than the pope is in Rome. Most
      Filipinos had not known of Viloria's connection, but many were tuned
      in to see Pacquiao. Now, Viloria is assistant pope.

      After a few days, Viloria went back to the Philippines to see his
      grandfather, Oscar, 72, who was dying of colon cancer. He took his
      title belt to his grandfather, who had said he would hang on until
      he saw it. Six hours later, Oscar Viloria died.

      Viloria defended his title in February, breaking his hand in the
      process. But when he took his 19-0 record into the boxing ring in
      the hockey arena at the Orleans, nearly everybody expected him to
      skate through easily. Nino was the WBC's 10th-ranked contender.

      Afterward, a dazed Viloria said he'd just fought a bad fight. No

      He feared, though, that the loss would cost him a rematch. But a
      week later, Viloria got the word that Arum was sticking with him and
      that a rematch had been arranged for either Nov. 16 at the Orleans
      or as part of the Pacquiao-Erik Morales undercard two nights later
      at the Thomas & Mack Center.

      So, for Viloria, the roller-coaster ride continues.

      "Been quite a year," he says.


      The Hawaiian Punch Speaks out: An Interview with Brian Viloria
      Interview by Tom

      Doghouse Boxing
      Brian Viloria was one of the most talked about fighters coming out
      of the 2000 Olympics. His exciting hard punching style drew
      comparisons to Michael Carbajal. At only 24 years of age Viloria is
      looking solid right now in the flyweight division, undefeated in 16
      appearances and ranked #2 by the World Boxing Council (WBC), #3 by
      the World Boxing Association (WBA), #10 by the International Boxing
      Federation (IBF) and #6 by the World Boxing Organization (WBO).

      He is coming off an impressive 7th round KO victory, his 10th early
      night, over Angel Priolo, (30-1, 20 KOs) in Los Angeles, a fight he
      took on three days notice, because it was a shot to fight on HBO
      Latino. Viloria was nice enough to talk to me after a recent
      training session in Hollywood, California. Here's what he had to

      Dickey: Who are you looking to fight next?

      Viloria: I'm looking at fighting one of the world champions in the
      108 pound division. I'm dropping down in weight from 112 to 108, and
      I'm feeling really good at this weight.

      Dickey: In your last fight you defeated Angel Priolo on three days
      notice, what were the circumstances behind that fight?

      Viloria: He was a very tough guy. I had a fight scheduled on
      Showtime that got cancelled. I then took a week off, because I
      didn't think I was going to fight again until next year or this
      year. Then two or three days before the fight in Los Angeles
      started, one of the fighters pulled out, and I got a call and they
      said we want you to fight, and it will be on HBO Latino. I couldn't
      turn that down. I got the call on a Monday and the fight was
      scheduled for Thursday night.

      Dickey: Would you like to fight Vic Darchinyan, who just upset Irene
      Pacheco for the IBF Flyweight title?

      Viloria: Yes, he keeps calling me out, he thinks he has the edge
      over me right now. He came here and sparred with me a while back,
      and afterwards he claimed he kicked my butt, but I don't remember
      him being able to even hit me. I think that a world champion calling
      a challenger out is kind of unheard of, usually it's the other way
      around. I'm looking forward to that potential fight, especially
      since Arce moved up to 112. I was hoping to get a title at 108, and
      move it up to 112 and fight Vic and any one of the world champions.

      Dickey: What were your main goals when you got into Boxing?

      Viloria: My main goal is to leave a mark in the lighter weight
      divisions. That was one and still is one of my main goals. A lot of
      the attention gets drawn to the larger weight divisions, not since
      Michael Carbajal has the 108 pound division or other light divisions
      been really recognized. I'm trying to bring that back, I'm trying to
      say that these lighter divisions warrant the same type of
      recognition as the heavier weights. A world championship was another
      big goal of mine when I got started also.

      Dickey: You being a 2000 Olympian, and having gone through the
      transition from amateur Olympian to professional, what advice would
      you give some of the guys like Andre Ward, Andre Dirrell or Vicente
      Escobedo from the 2004 class as they start that same transition?

      Viloria: A lot of guys are trying to jump in and get contracts as
      quickly as possible. I would tell them to just take their time, and
      feel these people out, it's the pro business now. Amateur times are
      over, and the pro game is more business than actual fighting. A lot
      of things take place in court rooms, and you have things like breach
      of contracts, it's a whole new thing. I would tell them just take
      their time. Actually Vicente Escobedo is my roommate now, and I tell
      him to just take his time. Don't just jump into a contract because
      it sounds good; do your homework, find out what accomplishments
      these people have and what credentials these people have. It was
      like this for us in 2000, there was a cesspool of managers and
      promoters trying to get guys to sign up, and a lot of the fighters
      just jumped on without knowing what the contracts really meant. For
      a lot of these guys, I would tell them just take your time, find the
      right trainers, find the right promoters, and find the right
      managers that's going to help you and show the right road to take,
      and who will benefit you. Because a lot of promoters are scum and
      sharks, and they will try to milk the fighters as much as they can,
      and when they're done they will just throw the fighter to the side.
      That's the sad truth.

      Dickey: How has it been working with Freddie Roach?

      Viloria: Freddie's been great, I've been working with Freddie since
      the beginning of my career. He tells me the right things at the
      right time. He's not one of those trainers that's just going to
      scream at your face, he's not one of those guys. He's going to tell
      you what to do at exactly the right time, the right place, and how
      to do it, and what will happen if you do accomplish it. He keeps me
      focused, and he's one of the guys that I highly respect in the game.
      You can't have two opponents in the ring, you can't have your
      trainer fighting with you too. Freddie is a man, there is no other
      way I can say it, he's trained a lot of world champions. He's been
      there and experienced a lot of things and he brings a lot of
      experience to my corner. He knows exactly what to say, because he
      has been in the ring and was a fighter himself. So he is able to
      relate to his fighters as a trainer and as a fighter. So, I highly
      respect Freddie.

      Dickey: You kind of touched on this already, but who are some guys
      that you see and say I want to fight him?

      Viloria: My plans right now are fighting at 108, and fighting world
      champions there. Then I would like to go back to 112, and fight any
      of the four world sanctioning body champions. Whether it be with
      Vic, or Arce, or even Pongsaklek (Pongsaklek Wonjongkam: WBC
      Flyweight champ). Just trying to find the right match, then you got
      to go through the business aspect of it. Right now I'm just trying
      to get myself in shape and get the right match. So, those are in my
      plans for the future.

      Dickey: After you turned pro following the 2000 Olympics, you drew
      comparisons to Michael Carbajal. How did you feel about these

      Viloria: To tell you the truth, I was flattered. But, at the same
      time I know that those are big shoes to fill. Because, Michael
      Carbajal came back with a medal, and he proved himself. I came back
      with a 2 point loss to the guy who won the gold medal. Having people
      say that, actually motivated me to become a great pro. It helped me
      in staying focused, and going into the ring and doing what I have to
      do. It motivated me in thinking if Michael Carbajal could do it,
      then I could do it, nobody else could stop me but myself. When
      people make that comparison, I feel flattered, but I realize it's a
      daunting task, and I wanted to go in there and prove that I would be
      a great professional. I feel I proved that I was a great amateur,
      and now in the professional game I felt I had to re learn the whole
      sport, and prove again that I am one of the best fighters out there
      in the division.

      Dickey: If there was one thing that you could change about Boxing,
      inside or outside of the ring, what would it be?

      Viloria: I would get rid of the dirtiest promoters and managers out
      there that have taken advantage of some of the great fighters. If
      there was one thing that I could change, it would be that. I would
      change the humanity of the sport. Being in the sport and watching
      people do what they do, like robbing fighters, and taking more of
      their cut than they should have... It's a really, really nasty
      sport, at least that side of it. That's something I would really
      like to see changed. I know it's probably like asking for world
      peace, but if I had to pick one thing, that would be it. You can't
      feed all the children, you can't help all the sick, you can't stop
      all the wars and at the same time you can't take out all the bad
      promoters and managers out there. Unfortunately, they will always be
      there. But, if there was one thing I could change that would be it.
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