Philippines, 11 Dec 2018
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Dong Secuya
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Rene Bonsubre, Jr.
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The Hawaiian Punch was more like a Bloody Mary going to the last two rounds. A wayward elbow from Ukranian Artem Dalakian inflicted a huge gash on Brian Viloria’s forehead which slowed him down in the endgame.

It was a gallant effort from Viloria, now 37 years old and at the tail-end of an excellent career that saw him win four titles in two weight categories. His aggressiveness made it an interesting fight. I thought it was closer than the 118-109 scored by the three judges.

Dalakian, who is taller and seven years younger, was warned and eventually deducted a point for repeatedly pushing Viloria’s head down when he got inside. He wobbled Viloria in the second round and used his lateral movement and physicality throughout the fight.

Viloria managed to stun Dalakian, especially in the seventh with a hard right hand. He continued to press despite the fact that his face resembled a Halloween mask in the final round.

Dalakian, now 16-0,11KO’s, got the vacant WBA flyweight title.

It’s been a roller coaster ride for Viloria, from Hawaii by way of Ilocos Sur. He may have fought under the long shadow of Manny Pacquiao but Viloria is an important part of the Philippines’ Golden Age of Boxing.

It was his first round KO of Eric Ortiz for the WBC light flyweight title that made Filipinos take notice. This was in the same 2005 fight card that saw Pacquiao stop Hector Velasquez and Rey “BoomBoom” Bautista beat Felix Flores. The trio were toasted by the country that was in the midst of a boxing boom.

After losing his title to Omar Nino Romero in 2006, Viloria bounced back three years later and scored a dramatic 11th round knockout win over Ulises Solis at the Araneta Coliseum. This 2009 fight card was co-headlined by Nonito Donaire, another vital cog in our Golden Age of Boxing.

But Viloria would falter a year later, fading and losing in the 12th and final round against Carlos Tamara in Pasay City.

The Hawaiian Punch would make another return in 2011, going up one division higher and win the WBO title from Julio Cesar Miranda. He would defend in the Philippines with impressive TKO wins over Giovani Segura and Omar Nino Romero.

He would unify his WBO belt with the WBA version of the flyweight title in 2012 by stopping Hernan Marquez in he 10th round.

But just when his career seemed headed for greater things, he would lose to Juan Francisco Estrada in 2013 in Macao and lost in his attempt to win the WBC flyweight belt from Roman Gonzalez in 2015.

Viloria was once again written off. Even when he started working himself back up, fan interest was dwindling.

But champions always have one good fight left inside of them. Going into the Dalakian fight, the idea of Viloria having another great comeback was intriguing.

But it was not meant to be.

Viloria is now 38-6,23KO’s.

Retirement is a personal thing. Whether this is his last fight or not, we thank him for the memories.

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Rene Bonsubre, Jr..

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