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Whatever Happened to Hawaiian Punch? Vilora Upset in Las Vegas

I know that a lot of you guys don`t follow the light-flyweights, but one of the hardest-hitting mini-flies of all time, Brian “The Hawaiian Punch” Viloria, took to the ring in Las Vegas to defend his WBC title against the deservedly unheralded Mexican fighter Omar Nino Romero . By the end of the night, however, Romero had earned the respect of Brian Viloria and everyone watching the fight.

Whatever Happened to Hawaiian Punch?

I know that a lot of you guys don`t follow the light-flyweights, but one of the hardest-hitting mini-flies of all time, Brian “The Hawaiian Punch” Viloria, took to the ring in Las Vegas to defend his WBC title against the deservedly unheralded Mexican fighter Omar Nino Romero . By the end of the night, however, Romero had earned the respect of Brian Viloria and everyone watching the fight.

The guys at OLN, or at least the fight`s promoters, did a fine job of reading the Filipino/Mexican rivalry. If you put a half-decent fighter from either country in the ring against a fighter from the other, you will sell a lot of tickets (Viloria is an American-born son of Filipino immigrants, but he is fully embraced by the Filipino public). The rivalry has long been there, though it has been honed to a razor-sharp edge with Manny Pacquiao`s battles with several great Mexican fighters, most notably Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Erik Morales (who Manny will be fighting again in November).

While not totally sold on his technique, I`ve loved watching Viloria fight in the past. I`ve seen his last three fights, and even though he would have moments of difficulty in two of them, Viloria`s relatively strong chin has allowed him to weather the troubles his erratic technique would make for him. In addition to toughness, Viloria has the ability to get his whole body into his left hooks and uppercuts, which has lead to comparisons with his fellow ethnic Filipino Manny Pacquiao–not that there are similarities of note in style, but in each case, the fighter in question lunges into his power punches, often unfortunately leaving himself open to a savvy counter-puncher. Both are trained by Freddie Roach, and I`d always hoped Roach would “reign in” Viloria, as he seems to have done with Pacquiao.

In his last fight, Viloria overcame some early difficulties to dominate former champion Jose Antonio Aguire, and his previous fight was 1 round dissection of a tomato can named Eric Ortiz. You could argue that the Aguire fight was a step up in class, but Viloria had yet to prove his greatness to me, though many were calling him the most powerful small fighter since Michael Carbajal.

Nino was the picture of a Mexican journeyman fighter. He`d never beaten a top-tier fighter, or even a prominent fringe contender, though he did KO Jorge Arce in what was both fighters` fifth fight (Arce is now the WBC Flyweight strap-holder). Nearly all of Nino`s fights had been against fighters who`d lost the majority of their previous five fights, and the only good fighter he`d faced lately knocked him out. The one common opponent that Nino had shared with Viloria was Gilberto Keb Baas. Viloria rallied to KO Baas in the eleventh round, while Baas knocked out Nino in five.

This fight was seen by most as little more than Viloria`s tune-up for a big-money fight with Japanese superstar Koki Kameda. Viloria was favored in betting parlors by huge odds, in large part due to the low level of Nino`s recent competition.

Well, fight fans, it turns out that Viloria fought the worst fight imaginable, looking slow, flat, frustrated, and sluggish. Nino came out slugging, looked confident, and dictated the flow of the fight. He beat Viloria to the punch in nearly every situation, deleting Viloria`s jab, and leaving Viloria unable to set up his big uppercuts, crosses, and left hooks. Viloria looked to be wary of Nino`s counter-punching style, and Brian ended up with a ridiculously low punch output. Viloria`s performance was pathetic, though nothing should be taken away from Nino. Tonight was Nino`s night.

Nino won by unanimous decision, and it was a well-deserved win. He outworked, frustrated, and dominated Viloria, who had no answer for the challenger`s quick fists and slick movement.

I scored the fight 118-110 for Nino, and I`ll find it hard to bring myself to take Viloria seriously, unless he dramatically turns things around. Freddie Roach may be wasting his time with Viloria, and might be better served spending his time getting Pacquiao ready for his November date with Morales.

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