By Cliff Rold
Given the perception of where each man’s career is in this moment, the defending titlist retaining his title would likely be seen as an upset.
The bigger upset would be the fight making it to the judge’s scorecards. Pairing Giovanni Segura and Brian Viloria might not guarantee sweet science, but a sweet level of violence is a safe bet.
For both fighters, the confrontation is a risky commodity. The smallest men are, in today’s boxing world, typically capped at being regional stars. Segura has built a following in the U.S, and the Latin market. Viloria is an ethnic Filipino whose fights have been seen in the U.S. and the Philippines.
To their credit, each has extended beyond a single national base. They both have greater name recognition than most other smaller men. That has its privileges. However, in a glutted market, victory must be held at highest premium. The show will air live in the U.S. on Saturday via Dish Network (8 PM EST/5 PM PST).
The challenger, Segura (28-1-1, 24 KO) is looking for a foothold in his second weight class and the chance to maintain a strong headwind of momentum. Defending the WBO 112 lb. belt for the first time, Viloria (29-3, 16 KO) wants to stretch a three-fight win streak to four and continue his latest stab at rebuilding.
There was a time when Viloria looked like the heir to Michael Carbajal. Like “Little Hands of Stone,” Viloria entered the pro game with a U.S. Olympic amateur pedigree, a crowd-pleasing style, and knockout power. His pro debut, aired live in the U.S. on ESPN2 in 2001, was a barn burning little four rounder. By 2005, he had his first 108 lb. belt (WBC) with a one round knockout of Eric Ortiz.
Viloria was in position to make a move on real stardom. There were whispers about an eventual showdown with slick Ivan Calderon. Instead, Viloria moved headlong into adversity. A lethargic loss to Omar Nino in August 2006 stung. He bounced back well in the immediate rematch, dropping Nino, but found himself with a draw at the end of twelve rounds.
A failed drug test by Nino left the bout a “No Contest” and vacated the belt. Viloria could not regain it in a 2007 clash with Edgar Sosa. Instead of becoming the rare U.S. star in the smaller reaches of the scale, Viloria was in rebuilding mode.
He handled the assignment well. Viloria reeled off five wins and got a crack at Ulises Solis for the IBF Jr. Flyweight belt. Solis had put together a solid title reign and had the look of a favorite. Viloria responded with the finest performance of his career, knocking out Solis in the eleventh round.
He appeared finally over the hump. Two fights later, ahead on two judges cards, he ran out of gas and was stopped on his feet by tough Carlos Tamara in the final round, left to rebuild once again. In July, he snared a belt against tough Mexican Julio Cesar Miranda in a new weight class.
Now, he has arguably the toughest opponent of his career.
And the Mexico-born Segura has a chance to pick up another big name on a record that got a massive boost last year. Segura, despite facing Viloria in the Philippines this weekend, is the favorite. Being on the road is nothing new for him. His 2010 victory in the Ring Fight of the Year, against Calderon, came in Puerto Rico. Segura entered with a WBA belt and left with an additional WBO strap and claims to the lineal crown at 108.
With an all-action style based on big power, a storm of blows, and relentlessness predicated on stamina, Segura is as must-see as anyone in the game. Segura has what comes across as a genuine humbleness and a desire to please the crowd; he’s hard not to root for. Since taking his lone loss in 2008 to Cesar Canchila, by decision, he’s won nine in a row by knockout. Among those wins, he avenged the Canchila slight and also sparked Calderon in their rematch.
Already 29, Segura’s style might not leave him many more years to capitalize on what make him special. His time in now to make every dollar he can. A loss, even given a crowd-pleasing style, could be a setback.
This is the rare fight where ‘must-win’ isn’t hyperbole. Segura must win to protect what he’s built in the last nine fights. Viloria must win to complete his rebuilding and find the sort of defining victory his career has lacked so far.
These two Flyweights will dance on the razor’s edge Saturday. One of them will get knocked off.
And probably knocked out.
The Weekly Ledger
But wait, there’s more…
Bantam Goodness: http://www.boxingscene.com/abner-mares-shines-anselmo-moreno-steals-show--46802
Cotto’s Revenge: http://www.boxingscene.com/revenge-revelation-weekend-review-ratings-update--46858
New Ratings: http://www.boxingscene.com/forums/view.php?pg=boxing-ratings
Picks of the Week: http://www.boxingscene.com/boxingscenecoms-television-picks-week--46949
Cliff’s Notes… Report cards for the big D.C. show and this fight will be up before weeks end…What’s this? The site has a piece up where someone around Alexander Povetkin says Cedric Boswell is a better foe than Jean Marc Mormeck? You know who would be a better foe for Wladimir Klitschko than Mormeck? Povetkin. One day, Team Povetkin might actually manage to get through a training camp for a Klitschko fight…Pawel Wolak retiring was a bit of a shocker but here’s hoping it sticks. He was a tough guy with a ceiling and fans got some good fights. Getting out with some good checks and one’s senses ain’t so bad…Must admit, the thought of a New Year’s Eve show never sounded great…U F C pay-per-view sales are down a bit this year, an indication of the impact a down economy can have. Their move to network makes a huge difference in that light. Let’s hope boxing’s new Main Events network deal can lead to some real fights on the free air eventually…James Kirkland vs. Carolos Molina? Sounds great.
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]