Viloria cherishes ride to the top of his sport


POSTED: Saturday, April 18, 2009

Imagine a rain storm descending upon Aloha Stadium on a Saturday afternoon as men and women of all ages wade through the different stands at the swap meet.

Then put a boxing ring in the middle of it.




Big-time Brian


        Brian Viloria fights Ulises Solis for the IBF belt today. His record in world title fights:

» Sept. 10, 2005: Knocked out Eric Ortiz in first round to win WBC light flyweight title


» Feb. 18, 2006: Beat Jose Antonio Aguirre by decision to retain WBC title


» August 10 2006: Lost a 12-round unanimous decision to Omar Nino Romero


» November 18, 2006: Lost a majority decision to Omar Nino Romero but it was ruled a no contest after Romero failed a post-fight drug test


» April 14, 2007: Lost majority decision to Edgar Sosa for the vacant WBC title


That's the situation Waipahu's Brian Viloria found himself in just 15 months ago after failing in his attempt to reclaim the WBC light flyweight title.

This wasn't the MGM Grand or the Staples Center or even the Sheraton Waikiki Ballroom.

This was a ring in the middle of a parking lot where even the homeless could find a seat.

But it was home.

“;I've fought on the beach, I've fought at the MGM Grand and I've fought in a bull ring,”; Viloria said. “;Every time, it all comes down to that one square ring that you fight in. It never matters to me whether 2 or 3 million people are watching or if it's a parking lot, that ring is your home.”;

Viloria (24-2, 14 KOs) will feel at home tomorrow morning in the Philippines when his two-year journey toward redemption reaches its climax as he fights Ulises Solis (28-1-2, 20 KOs) for the IBF light flyweight belt in his first world title fight since suffering a majority-decision loss to Edgar Sosa 24 months ago.

The fight will be shown live on pay-per-view beginning today at 3 p.m. Hawaii time.

The 28-year-old Viloria will face the Mexican champion in the Philippines, where he is regarded as a hero. Since arriving in Manila last Tuesday, Viloria's done almost as much boxing as he has writing, signing autographs for those seeking one wherever he goes.

“;It's a real blessing fighting amongst people who look up to you and idolize you, and it puts you up in this place where you feel like you don't really deserve being put up,”; Viloria said. “;For me, if I was in (Solis') shoes I'd be scared, because he's going to be fighting in a world of craziness.

“;Everything is set up with a silver spoon for me. I just need to tee off and hit the home run.”;

It's the first time Viloria has had to cut weight to 108 pounds since his last world title fight. His last five fights have all taken place at 111 or 112.

The fight is being held at Araneta Coliseum, which hosted the famous “;Thrilla in Manila”; fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.

Fighting in a parking lot made a future world-title shot seem improbable, but that unanimous decision victory over Jose Garcia Bernal at a Los Angeles swap meet was the turning point for Viloria.

Without the stress of being a champion and the bright lights and the glitz and glamour, it was a true test of just how much he loved to box. And with every jab thrown, Viloria remembered how fun boxing is to him.

“;It was one of the best memories I have of this sport,”; Viloria said. “;It made me a lot hungrier fighter and a more passionate fighter.”;

And that, Viloria hopes, will be the difference today.