By Ivan G. Goldman
We’re used to hearing winning fighters call out potential opponents moments after a significant victory, but Brian “Hawaiian Punch” Viloria, after stopping tough Hernan “Tyson” Marquez to unify the WBA and WBO flyweight titles, changed the formula. Instead he called out two networks.
“I hope Showtime or HBO will pick up (my) fights now,” he told an interviewer for little-known WealthTV, which carried the action-filled match to a fraction of viewers one of the twin kahunas could have attracted. Viloria did in fact also thank WealthTV, but clearly it won’t break his heart if he never sees the little network again. The on-camera fight-callers nearly swallowed their microphones after Viloria’s burst of truth. It was like watching a fellow ask out another girl while his fiancé watches. Rather than make an issue of it, the announcers, ex-heavyweight champ Larry Holmes, Mike Mittman, and Marc Abrams, chose to ignore the remark.
Mittman and Abrams aren’t exactly household names, but they were good enough even though Mittman and Abrams were prone to exaggeration. You don’t need razzle-dazzle fight-callers or razzle-dazzle production values as long as you put on good fights. If, like most of the world, you don’t get WealthTV as part of your carrier package, you could have bought a live Internet stream for 99 cents.
The career of Viloria, 31, looked to be on a downward spiral until he moved up from junior flyweight. Flyweight suits him. He threw big heat and threw it fast, and his conditioning and punch output were outstanding. Marquez fought a gallant fight but just couldn’t hurt determned Viloria. The 10th round shot that drove southpaw Marquez to the canvas a third time was a vicious left hook. He somehow beat the count and Referee Gilbert Mendoza was going to let them continue, but Marquez’s trainer Robert Garcia jumped onto the ring apron with a towel, ending it.
Why did the main event, a genuine title unification between two heavy hitters who boxed, moved, and threw plenty of combinations, get ignored by the premium networks? Because they’re flyweights. Hotshot networks HBO and Showtime don’t believe fans care about little guys. And newcomer Epix can’t see beyond heavyweights. Nearly twenty years ago junior flyweights Michael Carbajal and Humberto “Chcico” Gonazalez punched their way to popularity and pulled down sizable purses, but these days HBO and Showtime don’t have the kind of imagination it takes to put little fighters in the spotlight.
Dylan got it right when he sang, “If you ain’t got nothin’ you got nothin’ to lose,” so WealthTV, which doesn’t have a whole lot of viewers anyway, figured it could afford to gamble. It won, televising an excellent card from the L.A. Memorial Sports Arena. It televised five bouts. All were worth watching. Viloria, 32-3 (19 KOs) and Marquez, 34-3 (25 KOs), put on one of the most entertaining one-sided fights of the year. WBO champ Viloria added Marquez’s WBA title to his collection.
Marco Antonio Barrera and Julio Cesar Chavez, Sr. called the fight for offshore Spanish-language TV and Congressman Manny Pacquiao called it for a Philippines network. But the U.S. media pretty much bombed out on this one. The L.A. Times, which fears and loathes boxing, has its main office five minutes from the venue. It didn’t send anyone over and failed to list the event in its Saturday morning edition. It did, however, list five golf tournaments, three tennis matches, volleyball, and water polo. No, I’m not kidding.
In the co-feature, WBA light flyweight champ Roman “Chocolatio” Gonzalez 34-0, (28 KOs), of Nicaragua won a unanimous decision over never-faltering Juan Francisco Estrada of Mexico, 22-2 (18 KOs) in one of the best fights I’ve seen all year. No knockdowns, fantastic action. Gonzalez will probably move up four pounds and take on Viloria. Maybe a big network will buy the fight. Maybe not.
Ivan G. Goldman’s critically acclaimed novel The Barfighter is set in the world of boxing. Information HERE
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