Brian Viloria was pushing 30 when he lost his junior flyweight title by knockout to Carlos Tamara in January of last year, an age when many of the littlest fighters have already begun their second careers.
He was already an Olympian and two-time 108-pound titleholder, a fine career for any fighter. And he is making plans for life after boxing. He has done some broadcasting and wants to train fighters, for instance.
So did he think about retiring after the Tamara loss? Maybe for a split second.
In the end, Viloria believed he had more to give and didn’t want to go out a knockout loser in his last fight.
He plans to show himself and the world that he remains an elite fighter when he challenges Julio Cesar Miranda for the WBO flyweight title on Saturday in his native Honolulu.
“(Retirement) is always in the back of your head,” Viloria told RingTV in a phone call from Hawaii. “I love the sport so much, though. It’s something I’ve been doing since I was a kid. It’s not that easy to let it go.
“I feel I have a lot more to accomplish. I just wanted to give myself another chance to prove I’m still a world champ, to go up to 112 and prove that.”
If he does prove that, the weight will be a key.
Viloria (28-3, 16 knockouts) was outboxing Tamara in the second defense of the title he won by stopping Ulises Solis — he was leading on two of three cards — when his gas tank suddenly ran dry and he was stopped in the final round.
He started fighting at around 108 pounds when he was 14 years old. Against Tamara, he forced himself to make the weight one too many times.
“It became very difficult to lose that extra pound or two,” he said. “I think it got to the point where I was losing muscle mass. My body just shut down on me. I couldn’t finish the fight. I guess I dehydrated myself.
“It was a tough, tough loss for me.”
In lieu of retirement, the solution was simple: Move up in weight.
Viloria is 2-0 at flyweight since the loss to Tamara and said he feels like a new man. Four pounds to such a small fighter is a lot of weight, particularly one who has now entered his 30s.
“I feel comfortable, healthy,” said Viloria, who weighs in the mid-120s when he's not in training. “I still have to work hard to make weight but I can do it. Now that I think about it it blows my mind that I was ever able to make 108.
“This is the right weight for me now.”
Viloria said a loss like his setback against Tamara has a way of motivating a fighter.
He has two titles but only two successful title defenses, which isn’t how he imagined his championship reigns. He wants to take the title from Miranda (35-5-1, 28 KOs) and hang onto it for a while.
Then, when the time is right, he plans to go out on his own terms.
“It’s hard to stay champ, much harder than it is to win a title,” he said. “My next goal is to stay champion for as long as I can. I don’t want to win a title and then lose it in my first defense. I’m just going to work 10 times harder this time when I do have the title.
“I’m 30. I know my days are numbered in boxing. I want to make the most out of each fight.”