MANILA, Philippines - Former WBC and IBF lightflyweight champion Brian Viloria said yesterday he’ll book another tune-up fight, probably in the US, before getting married to long-time girlfriend Erica Navarro on Dec. 3 in Honolulu then go for the flyweight crown sometime next year.
Viloria, 29, couldn’t care less whom he challenges. The important thing is it will be for the world flyweight title.
“I don’t have a wish list,” said Viloria. “I’ll fight any one of the champions – Pongsaklek, Kameda, Miranda or Moruti. I’ll do one more tune-up then I’ll be ready.”
Viloria, the Hawaiian Punch, referred to WBC titlist Pongsaklek Wonjongkam of Thailand, WBA champion Daiki Kameda of Japan, WBO king Julio Cesar Miranda of Mexico and IBF ruler Moruti Mthalane of South Africa.
Miranda, 30, claimed the vacant WBO throne by knocking out Filipino Richie Mepranum in the fifth round in Puebla, Mexico, last month. Pongsaklek, 32, is considered the “dean” of flyweight titleholders. The Thai reigned from 2001 to 2007, turning back 17 straight challengers, and is now on his second term, regaining the belt via a majority decision over Koki Kameda last March. Pongsaklek is widely known for knocking out Filipino Lito Sisnorio who died from head injuries less than 24 hours after their bout in 2007. He is coming off a first round knockout over Filipino Rey Megrino in a non-title match early this month.
Last Saturday, Viloria pounded out a split 10-round decision over Mexico’s Omar Soto at the Ynares Sports Center in Pasig City. It was his first outing since losing the IBF 108-pound title to Colombia’s Carlos Tamara on a 12th round stoppage at the Cuneta Astrodome last January.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, I rate my performance against Soto a 6,” said Viloria. “That’s because I have high expectations of myself. Soto’s a warrior. I call him a trouper for coming over to Manila to fight under rough circumstances. It wasn’t a walkover for me. Soto came to fight and he showed it. But I gave him more trouble than he did me.”
Viloria said he staggered Soto on several occasions but didn’t go for the kill.
“I wasn’t out there to impress,” he said. “I remember what happened in the Tamara fight. I lost steam because I gave it all I had to try to knock him out. This time, I paced myself. The fight wasn’t about Soto. It was about me overcoming a lot of mental things. I just wanted to get back in the groove and forget about Tamara. I needed the fight to go 10 rounds. I hadn’t fought in six months so I wanted the workout. Overall, it was a confidence booster for me.”
Viloria said he thought Soto went down from a left hook in the third round. “I hit him hard and I knew he was groggy,” he continued. “He held on then went down, his knee touching the canvas. But the referee (Ferdinand Estrella) ruled it a slip. In the last round, I got him again with a left hook. In my next tune-up fight, I’ll be stronger and better. I just wanted to get over the hump after losing to Tamara.”
Viloria said trainer Robert Garcia’s departure had no effect on his showing. Garcia, a former IBF superfeatherweight champion, chose to work Nonito Donaire’s corner in his interim WBA superflyweight title defense against Hernan Marquez in Puerto Rico on the same night as Viloria’s bout.
“Robert and I worked together in my last seven fights,” said Viloria. “But Ruben (Gomez) has been in my corner since I turned pro against (Filipino) Ben Escobia in Honolulu in 2001. Ruben’s been my constant partner. I’ve gone through Freddie Roach, Joe Hernandez, Joe Goosen and Robert but it’s Ruben who’s been there for me throughout my career. When I get back to Los Angeles, I’ll meet with Gary (Gittelsohn, his manager) and Ruben then we’ll make some changes in my training team.”
To fill in for Garcia, former WBA supermiddleweight champion Frankie Liles was recruited by Gomez. Liles, 45, was the WBA titleholder from 1994 to 1999 and logged seven successful title defenses.
“Frankie came on board to help out Ruben,” said Viloria. “He’s knowledgeable, experienced and calm. He’s a long-time friend of Freddie and Ruben has known him for years. We’re happy that he stepped in. Whether or not Frankie will stay with our team is something that has still to be decided.”
Viloria said the Soto fight was meant to clear the cobwebs in his head from the Tamara loss.
Joaquin Henson, Philippine Star