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Viloria stronger than ever

Take it from the man who holds the punch-mitts for Brian Viloria. Boxing trainer Marvin Somodio swears that the Hawaiian Punch is stronger than ever and should be able to dispose of undefeated Artem Dalakian in their 12-round bout for the vacant WBA flyweight crown at the Forum in Inglewood, California, Saturday night (Sunday morning, Manila time).

Viloria, 37, has been diligently training with Somodio at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles since the turn of the year. His manager Gary Gittelsohn said Viloria couldn’t be in better shape. “Brian’s looking sensational,” said Gittelsohn who’s based in L. A. “I’m very optimistic. He knows what’s at stake.”

It’s almost a make or break situation for Viloria who didn’t fight in 2016 after losing to Chocolatito Gonzalez by knockout the previous year then came back to score back-to-back wins. He’s not getting any younger and this could be his last chance to regain the world crown. A win for the former WBC/IBF lightflyweight and WBA/WBO flyweight champion will open up big-money opportunities in the superflyweight division which he plans to invade. A loss might bring the curtains down to his career.

Somodio said he’s sure Viloria won’t run out of steam against Dalakian. “He’s in shape,” said Somodio. “He won’t fade in the later rounds like he did against Chocolatito. Brian’s training very hard. What I like is Brian and Donnie (Nietes) have helped each other out, sparring four rounds thrice a week. Donnie’s not as strong as Brian but he’s a good technician. Brian also worked with Christian Robles, a young superflyweight who never held back whenever they sparred.”

Somodio said Dalakian is a mystery. “We don’t know much about him,” he said. “We don’t know if he can take a punch. I doubt if he’s fought anyone stronger than Brian. From his videos, Dalakian looks like a typical Olympic boxer with good skills and power. But he hasn’t been tested. He’s fought all his fights in Ukraine. It won’t be an easy fight. Dalakian is young and unbeaten. We’ll give him everything we’ve got to win the fight and hopefully, by knockout.”

Nietes will be on the same card to defend his IBF flyweight title against No. 1 contender and mandatory challenger Juan Carlos Reveco of Argentina. Also on the card is WBC superflyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai’s defense against Mexico’s Juan Francisco Estrada. It’s possible that if Viloria beats Dalakian, he’ll challenge the winner of the Rungvisai-Estrada bout. Estrada is one of only five fighters to beat Viloria. The others were Omar Nino Romero, Edgar Sosa, Carlos Tamara and Gonzalez.

Dalakian, 30, has a 15-0 record, with 11 KOs compared to Viloria’s 38-5, with 23 KOs. He was born in Azerbaijan but now lives in Ukraine where the Klitschko brothers, Vasyl Lomachenko and Viktor Postol are from. Dalakian has won his last four outings by knockout and of his 11 wins inside the distance, six came within three rounds including two in the first.

One of Dalakian’s victims was Filipino Juan Purisima who lost on a unanimous 12-round decision in a WBC International flyweight title fight in Donetsk, Ukraine, in 2013. Two judges scored it a shutout, 120-105 and 120-106 while the third saw it 119-106. Dalakian is ranked No. 1 by the WBA and Viloria, No. 2. The throne was vacated when Japan’s Kazuto Ioka retired from the ring last November.

Photo: Brian Viloria (L) and Ukraine's Artem Dalakian (R) pose during the final press conference of Superfly 2 in Los Angeles.

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.

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