Brian Viloria all business about regaining World Title
It would seem that four time former flyweight World Champion Brian Viloria is set to come out guns blazing at the Texas Station Casino this Saturday night when he will face Juan Herrera as the one fight standing in the way of him getting a chance to regain his world title in May at the Cotai Arena, Venetian Resort in Macao, China. A less seasoned fighter might make the mistake of looking beyond what on the surface would seem to be a tailor made fight versus Herrera but Viloria, ever the veteran is candid and crystal clear on what is at stake as well as who he is fighting:
Viloria: "I think his style is made for me. He stays in front of you and tries to exchange and I like guys who stay in front of me. I just need to fight the way I fight. It all depends on how well conditioned I am and how I follow my instructions. It’s hard for me to get myself lined up again for a World Title Shot so I’m taking this one fight as a title shot itself. Without this win I won’t have another title shot so I’m taking this very serious."
It is Viloria’s hindsight is twenty twenty view that conditioning was the decisive factor that lead to his split decision loss of The World Title this same time last year on April 4, 2013 in Macao to the explosive and considerably younger Juan Francisco Estrada. At 33 years of age, Viloria is a full decade older than the 23-year-old Mexican born Estrada:
Viloria: "I thought I had him the first 8 rounds I needed during the fight. What I need to do is just work on my conditioning. Understand being able to go 20 rounds if I have to. That was what was really the factor in that fight. I thought that I was getting the better combinations and I caught him with a few good shots - nothing to take away from Juan Estrada. But the fact that I hit him - hopefully I get the shot again. I’m going to come in better shape and better conditioning than I have done in any one of my fights."
While corner cut man Ruben Gomez has always been a fixture in Viloria’s corner from the very beginning of his professional career, with regard to head trainers, Viloria has worked with a best of the best who’s who of top coaches during his storied career. For the contest this Saturday, Viloria will be working once again with Wild Card mainstay and Freddie Roach protégé Marvin Somodio. A good working fit for Viloria’s triumphant WBA and WBO flyweight unification win over “Tyson” Hernan Marquez in 2012, Somodio and Viloria are an easy simpatico fit in the thick of the battle. While Somodio is unquestionably a proven asset to Viloria in the here and now, Viloria is not shy about giving credit where credit is due to all of the great coaches he has had along the way in the sum of fighter and champion that he is today:
Viloria: "I’ve worked well with everyone. It all depends on the fighter. You try to learn as much as you can from each coach and have respect for each other. Each person is different. Each trainer is different. With Freddie (Roach) he was the one that basically introduced me to the professional game. Trying to break away from being an amateur fighter. To sit down on my punches - not throwing a million punches at a time each round. With Robert Garcia I learned just being in shape getting myself to the top top of my game and with each fight to bring the best part of me. With Mario (Morales) it was power shots and throwing the right combination and being able to exchange the way I want to and control the fight the way I want to. With Marvin (Somodio), he brought me back to Freddie’s style and being able to throw three, four punch combinations and be a professional at the sport and not try to do too much of one thing, be aggressive and know how to be aggressive at the right time. So there are plenty of aspects of my technique that I’ve learned from each trainer."
If Viloria has done a lot of growing up and changing inside the ring over the course of his career now he is preparing to do so in a big way in his personal life. In May, with a win against Juan Herrera Viloria is not only looking forward to a World Title Shot in Macau, but in that same month he is also looking forward to becoming a father for the first time. Viloria and his wife Erica are expecting their first child, a boy in May. Ever present as a capable and calming force in Viloria’s camp, Erica has always been up front and center in Mr. Viloria’s dressing room as an aid and a balm before and after fights. A marvel of adaptability, she has become a master at deftly walking the fine line of remaining instrumental yet unobtrusive in the workings of Mr. Viloria’s professional life and success. Always one to pick up the slack without complaint, as a certified nurse, she has even been known to be a crack medical assist in a pinch. As Viloria’s rock, she will unquestionably be missed in the thick of upcoming challenges in the ring with the new and eagerly awaited arrival in the Viloria family. But Mr. Viloria sees this as a motivation rather than a distraction:
Viloria: "I think it’s a motivation to keep myself - refocus on what I have to do. She’s due in May so, it’ll be real close to my May fight date. I’m so excited and hopefully everything turns out well. She’s my foundation. She supports everything that I do, she helps with everything, she picks up the extra slack from Gary (Gittelsohn) and Ruben (Gomez). If there’s something that’s missing she’s the very one in the back doing the dirty work and picking up the slack. She’s really a key to my development in being a top fighter and without her I don’t think that I would be here. It’ll be strange, but we’ll figure it out."
While Viloria clearly wants to regain his title and has the requisite fire in his belly to do so, paradoxically to some in the game, being there for the birth of his first child is the one thing that he will not miss for a chance to regain his professional crown. If it is the birth of his son versus being there in Macau to reclaim the belt, the belt is what will be left behind:
Viloria: "I’ve told everyone that given that chance, I wouldn’t want to miss the birth of my first child. I don’t care if you have to cancel my fight. That’s one thing I don’t think I can do. To live with myself after I just missed the birth of my child, I don’t think I could live with myself. I told my manager I’m not gonna miss that. I hope you can understand. Pretty much he did. Boxing is my life but you have to prioritize what’s more important. For me my child is way more important than me fighting another fight. So hopefully they understand and hopefully they go and put me on a different card later but closer to the date."
Fan or promoter dust up and disapproval be damned, Mr. Viloria would seem to be resolute and unwavering in this. Sticking to your guns in the face of what the fans and the powers that be might deem uncharitable – this could be the real measure of the man in the fight and the fight in the man come May in Macau provided Mr. Viloria wins against Herrera this Saturday at Texas Station Casino. Who would suppose that even in boxing, babies could change everything and bring the most motivated warriors to their knees? Indeed, the one thing that hasn’t changed irrespective of titles or babies is Viloria’s continued love of the sweet science:
Viloria: "I really think that this is what I was born to do. I’m very good at it. I’ve gone through so many things (and) so many experiences because of the sport. I just love doing it. I’m not going to lie - when I’m in the gym, when I’m training, preparing for a fight that’s when I feel like I’m happy to be alive. I love that feeling and I think that’s what drives me more than anything else. Being able to do what I love doing."
It could be a real test of Viloria’s courage under fire if it does come down to the eternal push and pull between the professional and familial. However, if we do not know what we stand for, how can we stand for anything at all? Indeed, anyone who feels that Mr. Viloria’s Sophie’s Choice of baby over battle is indicative of a farewell to boxing does not truly understand what Mr. Viloria would already seem to know about parenthood. Some of the hardest and most bittersweet sacrifices arrive with the crown of fatherhood.
by Kylie Krabbe
March 28th 2014
Credit: Gil Ortiz