THE good news, of course, is that Brian 'Hawaiian Punch' Viloria remains the smart money bet to retain the World Boxing Organization (WBO) and World Boxing Association (WBA) flyweight (112 pounds) titles going into his April 6 showdown with Mexican challenger Juan Francisco Estrada in Macau, China.
Viloria, 32-3 with 19 knockouts, is on a winning groove lately, having won his last six fights (four by knockout) since yielding the International Boxing Federation light flyweight (108 pounds) hardware to Carlos Tamara on a horrific 12th round technical knockout in January 2010. He became a world champion again in July 2011 by dominating Julio Cesar Miranda for the WBO flyweight strap and in his last fight (November 2012) added the WBA’s version of the belt with a thrilling 10th round stoppage of Hernan 'Tyson' Marquez. The fight against Estrada marks Viloria’s initial defense of the unified WBO-WBA flyweight title.
The bad news is that the jury is still out on Viloria’s true fistic worth. The fact that Viloria has been planting his feet and brawling with gusto in his recent fights has made him a more exciting fighter, but his conditioning remains suspect. Viloria was rocked badly in the fifth round against Marquez and was absorbing a heavy shelling when he stopped the Mexican in the 10th round with a perfectly timed counterpunch. Viloria’s gas tank tends to diminish in the second half of the fight, making him vulnerable to furious rallies from adversaries.
And then there is Viloria’s problem of getting motivated for matches against lesser-caliber foes. Viloria’s three losses have all come against opponents he was supposed to beat with one Herculean sneeze. He sleepwalked against Omar Nino Romero in 2006, fought in a nonchalant manner against Edgar Sosa in 2007 and unravelled like a deck of cards against Tamara in 2010.
Estrada offers a statistically-bloated record of 22-2 with 18 knockouts. Majority of Estrada’s victory have come against doughnut-knitted foes. Estrada’s only notable opponent is unbeaten (34-0) WBA light flyweight king Roman Gonzalez, who beat him decisively in November 2012. Before Gonzalez, Estrada stopped in August 2012 journeyman German Meraz, who had a win-loss record of 38-22. Four months before Meraz, Estrada won an eight-round decision over Jonathan Ramos, who offered a break-even ledger of 10-10. In terms of quality of opposition, Viloria leaves Estrada biting his dust.
Of course, there are some also good news about Estrada. Not only is he 10 years younger than Viloria, he appears to have the style that can frustrate the champion. Unlike the typical Mexican boxer who shows up in the ring looking to tear somebody’s head off, Estrada relies on his smooth boxing skills to get the job done. The challenger offers a good left jab and moves well around the ring. Estrada also owns a clubbing overhand right that packs decent power. But the style has its share of flaws as Estrada tends to lean his head and expose it shortly after he throws the left jab and just before he unloads the overhand right. This slight opening may be fatal against a good counterpuncher like Viloria. On the plus side, Estrada showed against Gonzalez that he can take a homerun punch as he went the entire 12 rounds against the fearsome Nicaraguan.
Both Viloria and Estrada have their share of good and bad points. Estrada figures to be on his bicycle the entire fight in an attempt to outbox Viloria. Estrada’s power is suspect though and Viloria, who has promised to trade up close, is expected to barge in and test his foe’s chin to the hilt. Whichever way you put it, a tactical match figures to take place when the combatants finally collide in the squared circle.