RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
WBC light flyweight boxing champion Brian Viloria got some pointers yesterday from actor Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa.
Viloria learns some pedestrian lessons
World Boxing Council light flyweight champion Brian Viloria returned to Hawaii yesterday and got back to basics.
He started with a lesson in tying his shoes.
Viloria graced Kalakaua Gym for the first time in two years, this time allowing actor Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa to school the world champion on his favorite form of martial art.
The lesson began when Tagawa removed Viloria's left shoe while the champ showed off his shiny new belt and answered questions for reporters. Tagawa proceeded to retie the laces for the boxer from Waipahu, then had the Hawaiian Punch try out his new handiwork. After unleashing a slow-motion right hand through the still air of the ancient gym, Viloria proclaimed the new technique a success.
"That part really made a difference," Viloria said. "Who would have thought that lacing your shoes a different way would change anything? It is funny where you pick up things."
Viloria noticed more toe room and a better sense of balance.
Tagawa worked with Viloria on different stances, and Viloria soaked it all in. Viloria has been away from the ring since defending his title against Jose Antonio Aguirre last month. Viloria broke his hand in that fight, and expects to be fully recovered and able to hit again soon.
"I can't wait," Viloria said. "I actually enjoy working in the gym and to be out for this long it feels like something is missing."
Viloria will be in Hawaii until Thursday, when he will return to the Philippines to receive the Flash Elorde Golden Belt on March 25 in Manila. The award goes to the athlete who brought honor to the country and its people. Viloria was chosen over the nation's most popular sports figure -- boxer Manny Pacquiao -- because Viloria is the only Filipino to currently hold a world title.
Viloria will be the guest of honor at the banquet, but many of the guests will be plotting Viloria's downfall. One of the hosts, Gabriel "Bebot" Elorde, has been pressuring Viloria and the WBC to give his top-ranked contender -- Juanito Rubillar -- a shot at the title, going so far as to promise Viloria the biggest payday of his career if he fights his fellow Filipino in Manila.
Viloria says he will fight anyone, anywhere, but he leaves those decisions to his management team. While he waits for his handlers to come up with an opponent, Viloria will keep in touch with Tagawa, hoping the conversation eventually turns to the business Tagawa has mastered as easily as Viloria has learned the sweet science.
Part of the reason why Viloria, who trains under Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles, spent part of his day taking fighting lessons from a man who is neither an athletic trainer nor plays one on television is admiration for Tagawa's accomplishments.
Viloria has been attending film school at UCLA throughout his pro career and is three semesters short of a degree.
"It's something I have always wanted to do," Viloria said. "Boxing isn't forever."