You’d think that two days after Brian Viloria’s split-decision nontitle bout win over Omar Soto, he’d be taking it easy. Instead, he wants to hit the gym.
“Take a couple of weeks off,” ordered his long-time manager and mentor Gary Gittlesohn. “Then let’s talk about the next fight.”
When I first met Brian Viloria, it was after that sensational knockout of Eric Ortiz and the Philippines had boxing champs everywhere and pugilists were just popping out of the woodwork.
His eyes then had that youthful mirth. He was, after all, a young man at the height of his powers. An uncommon boxer, if at all. He was a Communications major and he dabbled in music and other interests. He was a warrior with a poet’s heart.
But the cloak of invincibility was shredded following a series of unlikely setbacks against Omar Niño Romero and Edgar Sosa. The Hawaiian Punch did come back.
“I’m stubborn,” he said.
On January 23 Viloria suffered a devastating and shocking loss to Colombian Carlos Tamara after leading in the first eight rounds. Just when everyone thought he’d throw in the towel, he was back in the gym working out. He was determined to come back.
“My body shut down on me,” he recounted of those fateful last few rounds when Viloria ran out of gas as a relieved Tamara, who was earlier used as a punching bag, found a reservoir of energy to turn the fight around. “My mind said, ‘go on.’ But my body refused to follow.”
“It’s a combination of many things… training, long rounds, getting hurt, but no excuses. I lost. The level of intensity has its side effects.”
Lesser fighters would have packed it up but Viloria is stubborn. But he is only “stubborn” in his single-mindedness to fulfill his dream to become a world champion once more and be one of the greats.
His eyes, after 29 summers, the intoxicating enthusiasm I first saw in his eyes, when I met him in 2006, is gone. Instead, it has been replaced by a more pensive look of one with the burden of trying to resurrect a fading career. He’s no longer “the kid” but a man, a grizzled veteran answering the bell for one last round, one last run.
“It was important to me to fight once more here in front of the hometown fans,” he said on the eve of his fight with Soto. “They gave me a boost last time even if things didn’t turn out the way we hoped. This time, I want to give them that boost with a win.”
Viloria pummeled the hapless Mexican and came away with his 27th win in 32 fights. He hopes that the win will finally shake off the mental effect of the loss to Tamara.
With Gittlesohn’s advice in his ears, he’s enjoying his win and the Los Angeles Lakers’ back-to-back title (he is a huge basketball fan). He’ll take a little time off to be with friends and family. But somewhere in his mind, he can hear the slap of leather, the popping sound of gloves hitting mitts and punching bags. He can hear the musky smell of gyms and they do all smell the same.
“I’m stubborn. You know me,” he said with a laugh. “I take a lickin’ but always come back up. The hunger to achieve and be among the best is what drives me. That’s life.”
Rick Olivares, Business Mirror