Ryan Songalia

Viloria looks to “close chapter” on Nino rivalry

Brian Viloria (right) clips Omar Nino with an uppercut during their controversial rematch in 2006. Despite scoring two knockdowns, Viloria had to settle for a draw. The bout was changed to a No Contest when Nino dailed a post-fight drug test.

 

WBO flyweight beltholder Brian Viloria says it was the element of revenge that compelled him to select old rival Omar Nino Romero for his voluntary title defense on April 1 at the Yñares Sports Arena in Pasig City, Philippines.

“It’s something that I want to close the book on,” said Viloria (30-3, 17 knockouts), of Waipahu, Hawaii, who is making the second defense of the belt he won against Julio Cesar Miranda. “When they offered me the fight, I said, ‘I want to do it.’ I want to prove that the last fight was a fluke and I want to finish this business with him.”

Viloria, who is in his third title reign in two divisions, sustained his first career defeat against Nino in 2006 when he was outhustled by the Mexican who was making his first appearance outside of his home country. In a rematch three months later, Viloria was more aggressive, knocking down Nino twice but managed just a draw on the official scorecards.

The verdict was later changed to a no contest when Nino tested positive for methamphetamines, tainting the bout and inspiring Viloria’s ire.

“When we found out he tested positive, it angered me,” admitted Viloria. “Just the fact that he didn’t come in on an even playing field or act like a professional. It was as if he thought he could cheat his way to get the win.

“I think I’m a more refined fighter now than I was then. I’m much more serious in my craft with the way I’m training.”

While it has been several years since Viloria has shared a ring with Nino, he says he remembers Nino being “deceptively awkward” and “quick.”

“I beat myself in that fight,” said Viloria, who said he didn’t take the sport as seriously at the time as he does now. “I thought I was a better boxer, I just didn’t show it in that fight. I came in that fight a little lethargic and didn’t do what I needed to win the fight. I just need to go in there and be Brian Viloria.”

Nino (31-4-2, 13 KOs), of Guadalajara, Mexico, floundered for a while after the Viloria contests, but went on to win another world title in 2010 with a controversial decision victory over then-WBC light flyweight titleholder Rodel Mayol. Nino made one successful defense but dropped the belt in his second defense to Gilberto Keb Baas. Nino was inactive for more than a year afterwards before defeating journeyman Javier Romano last month.

Viloria says the Nino fight, which will be his fifth appearance in his birth country in his last six bouts, will serve as a tune-up for a unification bout with WBA 112-pound titleholder Hernan “Tyson” Marquez, who faces Rodel Mayol on March 24. However, Viloria assured that he won’t be looking past the challenge in front of him.

“I don’t want to make any plans until after this fight,” said Viloria, a dual citizen of the Philippines and U.S. “I have to put everything into this fight and get myself past Nino, then look to see what goes on after the fight.

“I want to try to take this win as decisive as I can and keep it out of the judges’ hands. I did everything I need to in the gym, now I want to show what I’ve got.”

 

 

Photo / Chris Cozzone-Fightwireimages.com

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 ryan@ryansongalia.com. An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.

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