Star-Bulletin Sports

Saturday, May 26, 2001


Viloria out
for 2 months with
broken hand

The Waipahu boxer hurt
his right hand in his first pro fight;
he is expected to be at
100% in 8-10 weeks

By Paul Arnett

Brian Viloria has spent most of his boxing career pounding headgear not hard heads. So when he let fly one of those lethal right hands and it landed squarely on the face of Ben Jun Escobia in the third round, the jolt broke the fifth metacarpal on Viloria's right hand.

Not that anyone knew that then, or even after the May 15 match that launched the successful debut of Tuesday Night Fights on ESPN2. Yes, Viloria held his hand gingerly during postfight interviews.

And yes, when asked about it after the emotional win, he conceded it hurt, but thought it was "just a bruise." Prior to leaving for Los Angeles earlier this week, he said it was still a little sore, but it shouldn't affect a proposed June 19 bout on ESPN2.

"All that changed when Brian did a little shadowboxing for us on Thursday," Viloria manager Gary Gittelsohn said. "You could tell something was wrong, so we took another look at the hand.

"I was a little upset with him that he hadn't told us something might be wrong. But he's still a young man learning the game. He thought it was a bruise and that it would get better on its own. The break is very small. And we expect him to be near full speed in eight to 10 weeks."

The break is known as "Boxer's Fracture." Call it an occupational hazard for heavy hitters. Whether it poses a long-range problem for Viloria remains to be seen. That's why Gittelsohn sought the advice of renowned hand specialist Dr. David A. Kulber of Los Angeles.

Kulber took a look at the break Thursday and decided surgery was required. He inserted stabilizing pins to assure a complete recovery.

Viloria will be fitted with a fiberglass cast in three weeks, which will allow Viloria to resume his cardiovascular training. Full contact could be as soon as five weeks after that, but Gittelsohn doesn't want to push it.

"If it takes a little longer, then that's what we will do," said Gittelsohn. "Obviously, something like this is always a big blow. We're hopeful his hand will be 100 percent in eight weeks. If it is, then we'll try to schedule something in August or September."

Viloria is resting comfortably at Gittelsohn's home. Before his departure from Honolulu on Wednesday, Viloria met with local media to discuss his future. He was very pleased with how the card was received nationally and locally.

"So many people came out to support me, and the national audience (a reported 500,000 by network officials at ESPN2) was one of the best they've had," Viloria said. "It's very exciting for me and my family. To have it happen here was a dream for me."

The 20-year-old U.S. Olympic boxer will have to take it easy for several days. Like anyone with a broken bone, Viloria has to take extra steps to make sure he doesn't fall and aggravate the injury.

"We'll keep an eye on him," Gittelsohn said, then laughed. "I'm just glad he didn't try to box any and run the risk of injuring it even more. It was wonderful news when Dr. Kulber came out to say the surgery was a success. Brian will be back. No question of that."

Viloria's father said the family is happy with the way Viloria's pro career began.

"We are very pleased," Ben Viloria said. "Injuries happen to every athlete. We are confident that Brian's management will use the right judgment. With good medical treatment and guidance, we know this won't be a big setback."

Star-Bulletin writer Dave Reardon contributed to this story.

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