Remember Brian Viloria, the 2000 Olympian who has a couple of world title reigns at 108 pounds, albeit for less than a year? Well, he’s still fighting, although it may be a bit under the radar. And guess what? He’s a world champion again, holding the WBO flyweight (112-pound) title.
Some people in boxing don’t care much about that, but apparently the people in Macau do, at least a little, and that is why Viloria will be defending both his WBO and WBA “super” titles there on April 6 against Juan Francisco Estrada of Mexico.
The fights are set for the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel in Macau, a special administrative region within the People’s Republic of China (Hong Kong is the other) in which casino gambling is legal – and thriving.
Both of these guys fought on November 17. Viloria annexed the WBA title to go with his WBO belt when he stopped Hernan Marquez in the tenth-round of their fight at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles, after he floored Marquez three times. On that same show, Estrada lost a 12-round decision to undefeated Roman Gonzalez (34-0) in a fight for the WBA crown at 108 pounds.
After that defeat, Estrada makes the leap – albeit not a huge one – to the 112-pound level.
According to his biographical information, Viloria, a Hawaiian native who is of Filipino extraction, won 230 of his 238 amateur bouts, and won numerous simon-pure tournaments before competing in the 2000 Olympics, where he made it to the second round before being defeated.
As a pro, he was undefeated when he captured the WBC light flyweight title in 2005 with a first-round KO over Eric Ortiz. He lost it eleven months later when he was beaten on a decision by Omar Nino Romero. In April 2009 he reappeared as a world champion again, knocking out Ulises Solis in eleven rounds for the IBF crown at 108. Again, however, he didn’t hold on to the title very long, as he was stopped in the twelfth and final round by Carlos Tamara the following January.
Viloria won his current WBO belt at 112 pounds back in July 2011 when he scored a decision over Julio Cesar Miranda, and he’s made three defenses since.
Actually, the big attraction on that particular night might be China’s Zou Shiming, the two-time light flyweight gold medalist in the Olympics, who will be making his professional debut. Shiming, who is 31 years old, is one of the more decorated amateur competitors in recent history, and though he isn’t the first Chinese boxer to turn professional, he may be the fighter who is best positioned to take advantage of the presence of the casinos in Macau, which is one of the busiest gambling centers in the world.
The Venetian Macao is owned by the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, and is modeled after the Venetian in Las Vegas. It is also massive, encompassing 10 million square feet. It also has 3400 slot machines, far more than any other property in Macau.
Fighters like Shiming, and even Viloria, represent a good entree into the area for Top Rank, which is headquartered in Las Vegas. If boxing on a grand scale could gain a foothold there, there is going to be a lot of money made available, and Arum, who is investigating placing a Manny Pacquiao fight in Macau, is well aware of it. Considering he has often been ahead of the curve, this is a move well worth watching.
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