Brian Viloria keeps busy, keeps focused, keeps faith in himself
Flyweight contender Brian Viloria must live by the mantra “patience is a virtue.”
His name was mentioned numerous times in recent months as a possible opponent for the likes of Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada or Giovani Segura.
Nothing was ever finalized, so Viloria continued to train, eager for that phone call where he could land a world title fight or just a bout against a top flyweight.
The call hasn’t come, so Viloria will stay busy on Saturday fighting Omar Soto in a 10-rounder at the Florentine Gardens in Hollywood, California. The bout will headline a Top Rank card and will be broadcast live on UniMas, beginning at 11 p.m. ET/ PT.
It has been almost eight months since Viloria last fought. On Dec. 6, in nearby Glendale, Viloria knocked out Armando Vazquez in the fourth round but unfortunately suffered a cut above his left eye from an accidental clash of heads.
Following that fight Viloria (35-4, 21 KOs), who trains at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, was a candidate to fight ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez this summer, but that never materialized.
Instead he will face journeyman Soto (23-11-2, 15 KOs), who replaced Danny Flores a few weeks ago, and one could forgive him for seeing it as a letdown. But Viloria, a consummate pro, is not overlooking Soto. Not to mention there is a history between the two.
“I don’t like overlooking my opponent because every fighter is dangerous,” Viloria told RingTV in a recent interview over the phone. “Every fight, whether it is a tune-up or not, is the same to me. I train for every fight as if it’s a world title fight.
“Soto and I fought in 2010. I was coming off a (knockout) loss (against Carlos Tamara) and I took the Soto fight to shake off the cobwebs. I trained very hard, but Soto was a tough fight. I got the split-decision win. I want to put the best foot forward (on Saturday) and not make it as close.”
Viloria has won world title belts in two weight divisions, which is pretty remarkable. What may be more remarkable is that he has been a pro since 2001.
The Waipahu, Hawaii, native is the last current legitimate world-title contender who fought for the United States in the 2000 Olympic Games. He credits always staying in shape and a strict workout regimen for his longevity in the sport.
“I’m blessed to be performing at this stage and to still compete at the highest level,” said Viloria, who is managed by Gary Gittlesohn and promoted by Top Rank. “I’m always in the gym. I don’t start getting ready when I hear a fight is close to being made. I’m always ready. It’s what I’ve been doing for 15 years as a pro.”
Viloria is rated No. 3 by THE RING Magazine, is the mandatory challenger to WBO flyweight titleholder Juan Francisco Estrada and is ranked among the top three in two other major sanctioning bodies.
He does expect to fight one of the current top flyweights soon, possibly this fall.
“Estrada and ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez are fights I’m interested in. I would like to push for those fights in the next couple of months. But I don’t want to overlook my opponent on Saturday. I like to keep my fights in order, but I do want to give boxing fans those exciting fights.”
While Viloria is now 34 years of age, he is not looking at retiring anytime soon. But he is also looking at broadcasting as a way to stay involved in the sport when he finally hangs up the gloves, something he has done at times for Filipino television.
For now, he continues to patiently wait for that big fight, eager to prove he is still at the top of his game.
“I’ve been counted out before. I was counted out against (Giovani) Segura, (Ulises) Solis, and (Hernan) Marquez. I’ve been the underdog, but I keep proving people wrong.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FsalazarBoxing.