PASIG CITY, Philippines — It seems that Brian Viloria saves his best performances for the nights that few give him a chance, but once again the oddsmakers are left scratching their heads following another “Hawaiian Punch” shocker.
Viloria, who entered the first defense of his WBO flyweight championships as a prohibitive underdog to pound for pound elite Giovani Segura, scored the biggest victory of his career Sunday afternoon at the Ynares Sports Arena in stopping the resilient Mexican at :29 seconds of the eighth round.
The two-time light flyweight beltholder Viloria (30-3, 17 knockouts) could not miss Segura with his left hook, which isn’t his trademark shot. The right cross, which he used to score another big upset in 2009 when he knocked out Ulises Solis to become the IBF’s 108-pound title claimant, is what he is best known for. In a fight that he wasn’t expected to win, Viloria showed us something new.
The end came when referee Luis Viruet deemed that the grotesque hematoma on the right side of Segura’s face left him unable to defend himself, the product of Viloria’s accuracy with the left hook. Segura, who had been a sparring partner for Viloria early in his career, was taken to a nearby hospital for precautionary observance.
“This is the sweetest victory,” said Viloria, of Waipahu, Hawaii. “More than the (Ulises) Solis fight, more than the (Julio Cesar) Miranda fight.”
Despite his success during the fight, Viloria remained respectful of his opponent. “He has some heavy hands,” said Viloria. “I understand why he knocked out 24 of his 29 opponents.”
Segura (28-2, 24 KOs), of Bell, Calif., was heavily-favored by most in the media heading into the bout, due in part to his number nine ranking on THE RING’s pound-for-pound list, which he earned for his two knockout victories over modern ring legend Ivan Calderon.
After a competitive opening round, Viloria, 31, found his mark with the left hook in the second round, creating a hematoma on the right side of the 29-year-old Segura’s head. The swelling was reminiscent of the bizarre growth on Hasim Rahman’s head that halted his bout with Evander Holyfield in 2002 and by the fifth round had grown to obscure Segura’s vision.
Viloria continued to push his advantage, landing repeatedly with the left hook and mixing in body shots against an increasingly fatigued Segura, who now stands at 28-2 (24 KO). The referee appeared to give Segura one last chance to pull out the victory, second-guessing his initial instinct to halt the bout after the seventh, but quickly reverting back once he saw that Segura was compromised in the eighth.
Speaking at the post-fight press conference, Viloria’s manager Gary Gittelsohn cited fellow flyweight titlists Pongsaklek Wongjongkam and Hernan “Tyson” Marquez as attractive possibilities, as well as Ivan Calderon, who was Viloria’s chief rival in the amateurs. Unbeaten Filipino flyweight contender Milan Melindo of Cebu was on hand at the post-fight press conference, both to lend support to his countryman and scout a possible future opponent.
Viloria said before the fight that he relished the underdog role, just as he had prior to winning his second world title at 108 pounds in 2009 against Ulises Solis, whom he knocked out in the eleventh.
For Viloria, an Olympic representative for the United States in the 2000 Games, the victory was vindication for all of his past disappointments, including his unexpected TKO loss to Carlos Tamara last year which had many calling for his retirement.
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMA News and the Filipino Reporter newspaper in New York City. He is also a member of The Ring ratings panel. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.