Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, June 19, 2002


Brian Viloria celebrated with his WBC youth flyweight championship belt after beating Mexico's Francisco Soto by technical knockout yesterday in Del Mar, Calif. He improved to 8-0.

Viloria gets a belt

The pride of Waipahu grabs
the WBC youth championship
with a fifth-round TKO

Star-Bulletin staff

DEL MAR, Calif. >> It was Brian Viloria's kind of place and it turned out to be his kind of fight.

Nestled next to the Pacific Ocean at the San Diego County Fair, Waipahu's Viloria rained down a parade of punches yesterday for a fifth-round technical knockout of Mexico's Franky Soto to capture the WBC world youth flyweight championship.

"I'm ecstatic right now," Viloria said in a telephone interview. "Relieved, happy, all the range of emotions you can go through. I trained really hard for this and to come out with this win, it's just fantastic."

As the waves lapped the Del Mar shoreline, Viloria (8-0, 6 KOs) worked his longest professional fight against his most intriguing pro opponent to date in front of a large crowd and a national ESPN2-TV audience.

Soto was a tougher-than-usual target for the 111 1/2-pound, 21-year-old Viloria. He showed an ability to shuffle around and take a punch. A viable opponent was something Viloria sorely needed; he was barely tested in his last bout, a 38-second knockout of Sandro Oviedo last month in Honolulu.

After winning the first round easily -- connecting solidly but not hurting Soto -- Viloria didn't do much of anything for most of the second round.

Referee Lou Fillippo counted as Francisco Soto was knocked down in the fifth round for the second time in his WBC Youth World Flyweight Championship fight against Brian Viloria. Soto made it to his feet, but Fillippo stopped the fight moments later.

But with 12 seconds left, Soto hit the canvas after taking the island boy's solid left hook to the jaw.

Late in the third round, Viloria punished Soto with a left hook to the head, followed by an extended assault of punches to the body and head. With nowhere to run, Soto purposely took a knee.

Amazingly, Soto survived two more Viloria blasts to the head before the end of the third.

Viloria used his jab effectively in the fourth round, gathering energy for the decisive fifth. Soto connected on a few punches late in the fourth, but it wasn't enough to take away any of Viloria's momentum.

As the fighters exchanged brutal punches in the fifth, Viloria knocked down Soto for the third time with a heavy left hook to the face.

After Soto got up, Viloria unleashed another flurry to knock him down and referee Lou Fillippo stopped the fight with 1:18 to go in the fifth as Soto got to his feet.

"He (Soto) was tough," Viloria said. "He came in there and fought a good fight and that was expected. There isn't going to be any pushovers any more. He was ready and he was in very, very good shape and was really prepared.

Brian Viloria hit Francisco Soto with a right during the the fifth round of their WBC Youth Flyweight Championship bout yesterday. Viloria won his first pro title.

"It turned out for me the way I wanted it to. The body shots (during the extended third-round sortie) slowed his momentum down, but in the fourth round he threw some flurries of his own. My left hooks were crisp and right on the money."

Soto dropped to 13-6.

Viloria's manager Gary Gittelsohn said the former Olympic boxer will be fighting a lot before he returns for a bout in Honolulu in November.

"After this performance, there should be no problem getting ESPN to commit to a date. Brian was very, very well-liked and well-received by ESPN and they've made it clear they want him on the network as much as possible," Gittelsohn said.

According to Gittelsohn, the victory over Soto guaranteed a top-30 world ranking by the WBC.

"Tonight, I really believe he became a star, and we all saw it coming."

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