Friday, April 21, 2000
Tears of joy for ViloriaBy Pat Bigold
Waipahu light flyweight Brian Viloria wasn't too proud to say he broke down and cried after clinching his place on the U.S. Olympic boxing team.
"This is the dream I've had since I was 8,'' said Viloria, who was sobbing with joy in his hotel room after overwhelming Canada's two-time Olympian Domenic Filane with a 10-2 decision yesterday in Tijuana, Mexico.
"I just thought about my family back home and people who stuck with me,'' he said.
The 19-year-old Viloria's semifinal win in the Central American qualifier made him the first Hawaii fighter to make it to the Olympics in 44 years.
"His straight right is like a bullet being shot from a gun,'' said Filane by phone after yesterday's fight. "He hits harder than I've ever been hit before. He's world champion for a reason.''
Viloria had won the Olympic trials in January and a box-off in February to qualify for the U.S. team. But in order to get to Sydney, he had to get past the semifinals in one of three regional qualifiers designed to pare down the Olympic field.
He failed to do that at the North American qualifier in Tampa, Fla., last month due to an upset loss to Puerto Rico's Ivan Calderon. That forced him to Mexico.
"A whole lot of weight just came off my back,''said Viloria. "I broke down like a baby after I got back to the hotel.''
And now that the burden has been lightened, what does Viloria get?
A sixth matchup tomorrow with his arch-rival, Mexican champion Liberio Romero, and this time in front of Romero's countrymen.
Viloria beat the Mexican in a close bout in the quarterfinals in Tampa.
"We're just going to work on some things and try to win the bout but we know it's going to be tough winning it down here in Mexico,'' said U.S. head coach Tom Mustin. "A loss won't traumatize us.''
Viloria is the reigning world amateur champion at 106 pounds. He will enter the Olympics as a favorite for the gold because he defeated 1996 gold medalist Maikro Romero of Cuba for the world title last year.
All 12 U.S. boxers have now qualified for Sydney. The other nine qualified in Florida.