STAR-BULLETIN FILE / APRIL 2003
Brian Viloria of Waipahu looks to regain his WBC title tomorrow night in a bout with Edgar Sosa.
Viloria: ‘I’m getting my
The gym had never been this empty or this quiet ... not even on slow days. But then again, that is exactly why Brian Viloria left his longtime trainer Freddie Roach and the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, Calif., and ventured a few miles north to be under the tutelage of legendary trainer Joe Goossen at his Ten Goose Gym in Van Nuys.
It used to be that when Viloria was working out with Roach, each time he wanted to use the speed bag or jump rope, the Waipahu boxer had to deal first with the horde of wannabe fighters, reporters and autograph seekers crowding the small confines of the Wild Card.
With the masses converging on what has become the Mecca of boxing gyms in Southern California, getting the attention of Roach became increasingly difficult as Roach tried to meet the increasing demand for his expertise.
Eventually, Viloria's performance in the ring began to suffer. Then came his first professional defeat and the loss of his World Boxing Council 108-pound title to Omar Nino. Soon after, Viloria narrowly eked out a draw on the judges' scorecards in a rematch against Nino, a relatively unknown opponent whose two losses had both come by knockout.
After the second Nino fight, Viloria made an amicable split with Roach. He then teamed up with the renowned Goossen, who, unlike Roach, had the time to give Viloria the one-on-one attention he needed to make him the type of fighter who could win championship fights again.
Tomorrow, Viloria will get that chance at becoming a champion again when he goes up against Edgar Sosa in San Antonio at the Alamodome for the vacant WBC 108-pound title -- the same title Viloria earned in only his 19th professional bout.
Unlike Roach's "Bring me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses ... " approach to guests in the gym, Viloria knew that by working with Goossen in preparation for Sosa, only those holding a Golden Ticket, those personally invited in by Goossen himself, would be able to see the master at work.
For the most part the sessions were private, with no one there who didn't need to be there.
"It took me about a week to get used to," Viloria said while warming up for his 3-hour training session, "but not having a bunch of people around has kept me more focused on this fight against Sosa."
Fewer people means fewer distractions, and that aspect gives Goossen the ability to not only give Viloria the attention he needs to prepare him for a championship title shot, but also the time needed to work out a game plan for tomorrow's fight.
"Joe gives me a lot more attention than Freddie Roach did," Viloria said. "Joe is there for me, he goes through technique with me, and I'm not working by myself. Freddie always had a lot of fighters in his camp, and I need to have more one-on-one attention. What I like about Joe is that he is ready to work when I get to the gym."
While shadowboxing, Viloria went on to share that the added attention he was getting from Goossen has restored the self-assurance he once possessed as a junior flyweight contender. It's a quality that seemed to be missing in his last two fights and is now back as part of his physical arsenal.
"I have a lot more confidence going into this fight with Sosa then in my previous two fights with Nino," Viloria said. "I'm in great shape. I really needed somebody to be there and to prepare me correctly so that I didn't have to feel like I was training myself. It's great having somebody there who can go over bout tactics for the fight, and tell me what I should do."
Whether it was in conditioning, sparring sessions or even studying Sosa's fight tapes, Viloria and Goossen were a team from day one, and never worked alone in or out of the ring as they readied themselves for tomorrow's fight.
"Sosa is a great technician, and a good counter-puncher, but we have grueling workouts for those reasons," Goossen said. "I don't try to mold the fighters I work with. Instead I looked at Brian's strengths and weaknesses, and I gave him drills in repetition to address those strengths and weaknesses."
Viloria laced up his gloves and started his sparring session midway through his daily workout. Giving instructions to Viloria from the corner of the ring, Goossen explained how he has worked with Viloria throughout their eight-week training camp.
"In studying the tapes of Sosa's fights, this guy throws a lot of uppercuts," Goossen said, "so we're working on drills that will close up the middle."
Sparring was important during this training camp because it gave Viloria the ability to implement what he learned from Goossen early on in the camp, and apply it inside the ring.
"The first month we worked solely on technique and defensive moves," Viloria said. "It was only this last half of camp that we started sparring using the techniques I learned a month ago."
"We're working on techniques that will keep Brian on his opponent and not let him go like last time," Goossen said. Viloria nodded in agreement and added, "In my rematch with Nino, I backed off and let him regain his composure. I cannot ease up on Sosa. I have to get him on the run, and this time I will need to be more aggressive throughout the whole 12 rounds."
Viloria knows that not too many athletes in this sport get a title shot, let alone two shots at the title, and that if he plans on continuing his career as a professional fighter, then he needs to make this fight against Sosa count.
"How many times can I get a second chance at the title," Viloria said as he began his cool-down routine of jumping rope and working the speedbag. "I am trying to redeem myself, while attempting to capture what I've lost."
As Viloria's trainer, it is Goossen's job to dole out wisdom that prepares Viloria physically for the fight, but also to motivate and prepare him mentally. This is where there is a fine line between pumping up a fighter while at the same time not being dishonest with them. Fortunately for Viloria, Goossen is a master of this art.
"Does Sosa concern me? Yes, quite a bit. He's a tremendous fighter. If I looked at a fighter and ignored his ability, and just pumped up my fighter and professed him to be the best, I'd be lying." Goossen said. "Guys at this level deserve their due. Sosa's very accomplished and he has a very difficult style; we developed a strategy from day one, a strong strategy, and we are going to implement it."
Asked after another 3-hour training session what fans can expect to see from him tomorrow as he vies for the WBC title, this time against Sosa, Viloria simply replied, "I'm going to be relentless and go back to the basics. What it took for me to get there the first time, you will see it again."
Viloria made one last comment before exiting the gym.
"I'm getting my title back," he said.