THE TIME has probably come for us to take Brian Viloria for what he is.
The former world champion, now trying to carve a comeback trail with tune-up fights, should be appreciated and evaluated from what he brings to the ring, and not on whether he can be as exciting as Manny Pacquiao.
Known as ?The Hawaiian Punch,? Viloria has won 27 fights, 15 by KO, and has only three defeats. He is now trying to shake off a setback to Colombian Carlos Tamara last January, when he ran out of gas trying to finish off a fight he was in control of.
Viloria lost his IBF light flyweight crown that night.
Last Saturday, Viloria brought just enough of his boxing know-how to win a split decision over Mexican Omar Soto at the Ynares Arena in Pasig City.
In the nontitle 10-rounder, Viloria controlled the battle in the early rounds with timely hits and evasive tactics. Soto, however, caught his second wind in the sixth to the ninth rounds with wicked combinations that saw him load up his left jab twice or thrice in one flurry.
Viloria had no real chances to throw a knockout punch, and unleashed no power shots that could get the crowd on its feet. But he used enough of his sweet science skills to carve out the close win.
The three judges had identical 97-93 scores, with two of them giving the nod to Viloria.
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The fight had explosive moments even without either fighter hitting the canvas.
In the post-fight media chat, Soto explained through a translator that he ?traveled a great distance hoping that the decision would be fairer? but acknowledged Viloria?s boxing skills.
He was able to absorb Viloria?s best shots and hoped that ?Viloria would give me a rematch.?
Talking with TV fight analyst Mike Ochosa, Viloria acknowledged that he may have paced himself too much in this fight due perhaps to the memory of that loss against Tamara.
?I?m going back to the gym right away,? Viloria revealed. ?I have to review what I did to see what more has to be worked on.?
Most of us watch our boxing heroes with eyes that are not exactly trained to break down the nuances of the fight game. We crave for high-impact action, the slam-bang exchanges that get us out of our seats screaming for KOs.
We want the haymakers and the sweeping hooks that jolt the heads and put challengers on the mat.
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Fight experts will dismiss such a gung-ho approach as dangerous and harmful to even the most skilled boxers.
Boxing is a sport of intelligent attack and counterattack that is anchored on a great sense of timing. But most of us are fight fans who want our boxing at its rawest.
This doesn?t make us less appreciative or insightful about the sport. We just want our serving of sports action that way.
And that?s why we demand so much of any Filipino boxer, not just Viloria, whose tough fate is that he is fighting during the Pacquiao era.
Viloria will just have to continue to carve his own niche. Perhaps this comeback attempt will bring him a fight that he will win so decisively with that Hawaiian knockout punch that once brought him world titles.
Or it could be with a bundle of shots spread out over 12 rounds or less.