10 WHO MADE A DIFFERENCE
ASSOCIATED PRESS / MAY 2005
Brian Viloria celebrates his sixth-round TKO of Ruben Contreras in their flyweight bout at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Boxer fights for more following his title victory
After Waipahu native Brian Viloria knocked out Eric Ortiz for the World Boxing Council light flyweight title in September, he won more than just the championship belt. He struck a blow for little guys everywhere.
Through the end of the year, the Star-Bulletin will recognize 10 who changed Hawaii this year. Some were controversial, others shunned the spotlight. But all made a difference.
"It (being a world champion) is everything I thought it would be and more," Viloria said. "But my main goal is to leave a mark in the lighter weight divisions. A lot of the attention gets drawn to the larger weight divisions. I'm trying to say that these lighter divisions warrant the same type of recognition as the heavier weights."
Lower weight divisions like Viloria's 108-pound class have been largely ignored by American fans since Michael Carbajal retired in 1999. Thanks in large part to promoter Bob Arum's acumen, Carbajal was the first boxer below 125 pounds to fight for a purse of seven figures.
Viloria is already drawing a little attention to his weight class, being nominated for the WBC's boxer of the year, knockout of the year and revelation fighter of the year. He is far from making the millions Carbajal once did, but he is trying to follow the same professional path as his fellow Olympic fighter, only Viloria is covering the ground faster.
"It seems I have been 'the next Carbajal' since my amateur days," Viloria said. "Those are some big shoes to fill. He is like the standard for guys in the lower weight classes, the one guy who could break out and get recognition."
Although Viloria will not get an Olympic silver medal like Carbajal's, the Hawaiian Punch is just off Carbajal's pace. Viloria was a year older than Carbajal was when he won his first world title, and Viloria only had four more professional wins when he struck gold. And Viloria has Arum in his corner after signing with the promoter earlier this year.
"A lot of people said you can't do much with a 108-pound fighter," Arum said after Viloria won his title. "Well, we changed that with Michael Carbajal, and I think Brian will be an even bigger attraction."
To get there, Viloria (18-0, 12 KOs) is going to need a rival. Viloria next fights Jose Antonio Aguirre (33-4, 20 KOs) in the co-main event of a pay-per-view show Feb. 18 in Las Vegas, but the former champion is not expected to be more than a speed bump on Viloria's way to bigger fights.
WBC interim flyweight champion Jorge Arce continues to be mentioned as Viloria's sorely needed rival, but Viloria has some business to attend to first.
"Brian's got other fish to fry first, but we'll get there," Team Viloria manager Gary Gittelsohn said. "There is nothing Brian can't accomplish."