Saturday, March 25, 2023  |


Brian Viloria takes aim at Roman Gonzalez after Soto knockout

Photo by Chris Farina

Photo by Chris Farina

On two separate occasions, Omar Soto has served as the measuring stick for how much Brian Viloria has left in his career.

In 2010, when the rugged Mexican brawler pushed Viloria to the brink in a 12-round decision loss in the fight following his upset technical knockout loss to Carlos Tamara, the whispers about Viloria needing to retire grew louder.

Five years later, Viloria came into Florentine Gardens in Hollywood, California, on Saturday night riding a three-fight winning streak since his 2013 loss to Juan Estrada, while Soto hadn’t fought in two years.

On this occasion, Viloria would need less than a round to score three knockdowns, forcing a stoppage at the 2:02 mark. Virtually no one expected a repeat of their first struggle, but the confident display of the 34-year-old Viloria has people convinced that he’s ready to re-enter the world title picture.

“I kind of went into this fight with a chip on my shoulder because of how the last fight ended up being a split decision,” said Viloria, now 36-4 (22 knockouts). “I felt I was a better fighter than I showed that night.”

Riding the momentum of his fourth straight victory, Viloria, 34, is hoping to parlay his success into a fight with THE RING flyweight champion Roman Gonzalez, who will appear as the co-feature to the HBO pay-per-view event on October 17 headlined by Gennady Golovkin vs. David Lemieux at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

It’d be Viloria’s highest-profile fight in 14 years as a professional, and it’s one he says he has wanted for a long time.

“I know I have what it takes to defeat a fighter like Gonzalez. He’s been dodging me the last couple of years,” the former junior flyweight and flyweight titleholder said.

“We’ve been wanting to get a match against him but his people have been saying he’s not ready yet, or he doesn’t want to commence in talks to get us together. Hopefully my manager (Gary Gittelsohn) can do something and get him to commit to a fight against me close to the end of the year or in the next couple of months.”

Gittelsohn says that he intends to open discussions for the fight with HBO “first thing Monday morning.”

“I’ve been chasing Gonzalez for a year now. But, with Brian’s focused, flawless performance tonight, I truly believe the heat is on Gonzalez,” said Gittelsohn.

“I don’t think Gonzalez can last with the Brian that fought tonight.”

An email seeking comment from Gonzalez’s manager, Carlos Javier Blandon Vidaurre, was not immediately returned.

Gonzalez (43-0, 37 knockouts) of Managua, Nicaragua, has risen to No. 2 on THE RING pound-for-pound list after winning titles at 105, 108 and 112 pounds.

The 28-year-old made his HBO debut in May with a second-round knockout of Edgar Sosa.

Viloria would be a significant underdog against Gonzalez. For his part, the 2000 U.S. Olympian points to his upset wins over Ulises Solis and Giovani Segura as evidence that he thrives on being overlooked.

“I love being the underdog; historically speaking I’ve done well as an underdog. It pushes me to get into prime shape to compete at this level. I always welcome that role,” said Viloria.

“It’ll put me right back in top of being considered a pound-for-pound fighter.”

Ryan Songalia is the sports editor of Rappler, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and a contributor to The Ring magazine. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.