MACAU – Former two-time world heavyweight champion George Foreman thought Brian Viloria would still have his world flyweight titles up to now had he fought Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada wisely on Saturday night.
And the gentleman that he is, Viloria was not about to dispute the belief of `Big George.’
The 64-year-old Foreman, a guest panelist in the HBO crew that covered the biggest boxing card ever staged in this Chinese territory along with veteran Larry Merchant, said the dethroned champion was doing good in the early rounds until he decided to mix it up inside against his taller and younger Mexican opponent.
For the former Olympic gold medalist and Hall of Famer, that made the big difference in the 12-round match which Viloria lost by split decision.
“I think he should have used his legs a little more in the later rounds,” said Foreman as interviewed ABS-CBN.
The oldest man to win the heavyweight title admitted he had Viloria winning the early rounds of the match held inside the spacious Cotai Arena of The Venetian Casino and Resort Hotel.
Viloria, 32, agreed with the heavyweight legend and was man enough to admit his mistakes.
“I’ve got lulled into his (Estrada) style of fighting,” said the Waipahu, Hawaii native whose parents are both Filipinos.
“But I’m not gonna make excuses because I don’t want to make any excuses. I just take full responsibility for that, and that I lost hands up.”
Viloria was actually still ahead on two of the judges’ scorecards after the seventh round before he decided to press Estrada inside, opting to exchange punches with the Mexican instead of moving and hitting the challenger from a distance as he successfully did in the early rounds.
Estrada was quick to pounce on the opportunity, scoring on uppercuts and heavy body blows that effectively slowed down the former Sydney Olympian.
Viloria never won a round again as all three judges gave round eight onwards to the 22-year-old challenger.
“I got slow after the seventh or eighth round, and I just stood in the middle and not do anything. I went in there and tried to fix some shots in the body and should have been a little bit busier than I was in the later rounds. And I think I paid for that drastically,” said Viloria, whose record now stands at 32-4, with 19 KOs.
Several times Viloria appeared on the verge of getting knocked down especially in the ninth round when a vicious right by Estrada buckled the knees of the Fil-Am fighter.
“He caught me a few times and I’m not gonna lie,” said `The Hawaiian Punch.' "I was trying to will it out. I think I was a little too open in some of the exchanges and he caught me a few times.”
Viloria is not taking anything away from Estrada, who won his first world title after an unsuccessful bid last year against Roman Gonzales in their world light-flyweight championship showdown.
“I give all the credit to Estrada. He fought a great fight. He’s a young fighter, he let it all out, he took some of my best shots and walked through it,” he said of his tormentor.
Viloria, who’s making a short trip to Japan with wife Ericka before going back to the US, appeared a bit hard on himself for losing a fight he was winning in the early part.
“There’s a little thing that could have been done there. I’m pretty much kicking myself in the ass for that. I know I’m not gonna be able to sleep (tonight) because I could have made it a lot easier for myself. I paid for it,” he said.
It was a lesson Viloria had to learn the hard way.