By Jake Donovan
How ironic that a unification bout in one of the least lucrative divisions in the sports winds up headlining a card on Wealth TV?
Still, this mouthwatering flyweight matchup is rich in so many other ways, as Brian Viloria takes on Hernan ‘Tyson’ Marquez tonight at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles. The winner becomes the first unified flyweight titlist in more than 40 years, though most fans are eying the Fight of the Year potential that the fight carries.
Both fighters are coming off of career best years. Viloria (31-3-1, 18KO) has led an up-and-down career, but has been on a steady ride as of late. Wins over Julio Cesar Miranda, Giovani Segura and Omar Nino Romero – the latter feat avenging a previous loss and draw – has resurrected his career more than a decade after a run with the 2000 U.S. Olympic boxing squad.
Marquez’ previous foray into the title picture produced disastrous results, suffering a one-sided eighth round knockout against Nonito Donaire. The setback came on the heels of his first career loss, dropping a decision to Richie Merpranum, which he avenged earlier this year.
Last year proved to be an unreal experience for Marquez (34-2, 25KO). His 2011 campaign began with an off-the-canvas knockout win over Luis Concepcion, winning a flyweight belt in a fight that for more than six months served as the leading contender for Fight of the Year. Marquez capped the year with a repeat win over Concepcion, flooring the Panamanian three times en route to a first round stoppage.
Saturday’s flyweight title tilt serves as the first of four significant matchups between Philippines (Vilora calls Hawaii home but is still a proud Fil-Am). and Mexico (Marquez). The other three take place in December – Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez IV and Miguel Vazquez-Mercito Gesta on December 8, and Nonito Donaire-Jorge Arce on December 15.
It’s only fitting that this would be the lone bout of the series to take place in November. A fight this big deserves a stage of its own.
Of all of the bouts on tap this month, this one is viewed as a true pick-‘em. The staff at Boxingscene.com would seem to agree, as evidenced by the following predictions:
PREDICTIONS – BRIAN VILORIA vs. HERNAN ‘TYSON’ MARQUEZ
Viloria vs Marquez is the definition of a 50-50 fight. Which Viloria shows up? The one who gassed against Tamara and got stopped or the one who dominated Segura? My hunch is the latter. Viloria holds on to a late charge by Marquez and wins via UD
– Ryan Burton (Viloria)
The only upset here would be if the fight was NOT a thrill-a-minute. Both are capable of ending the fight with a single punch at any given time. Both are capable of outboxing the other over 12 rounds. Viloria looks to finally have his house in order – though that’s usually the point in which things go south. Look for Marquez to recover from multiple knockdowns to rally back and stop Viloria late in a fight that rivals Rios-Alvarado and Salido-Lopez II for Fight of the Year.
– Jake Donovan (Marquez)
This could be a fun one. Viloria's got more skill. Marquez kicks like a 112-pound mule. I expect Brian to stay away enough to last through 12 rounds, but it wouldn't stun me at all to see it end the other way within nine or 12 minutes. Viloria UD 12
– Lyle Fitzsimmons (Viloria)
Marquez TKO10- I think stamina plays a factor in this fight as Viloria's steam may run out in spite of him possibly being ahead on the cards
– Ernest Gabion (Marquez)
Brian Viloria SD12 Tyson Marquez. Considering the ebbs and flows in Viloria's career, I don't think conditioning will be a question this time around based on his last three performances. I see Viloria barely outslugging an equally aggressive Marquez to the very end in a Fight of the Year candidate
- Ryan Maquiñana (Viloria)
A tough one for me to call... Caught Marquez training for a few days at Robert Garcia's gym in Oxnard and he seems at peace in that environment and appears to be in great shape. Viloria has turned his career around and shouldn't be discounted after his recent performances. Very hard to pick a winner but I feel that Marquez will take over the fight late and pull out a decision
- Chris Robinson (Marquez)
Marquez KO Viloria: I think this is going to be a corker, the first Flyweight unification contest before Muhammad Ali refused the draft. Marquez is younger and a little more consistent with his offense. Viloria is on a roll but he still waits too much and that should favor Marquez. I think he'll pull away late and might be able to stop Viloria but he'll eat some nasty hooks before he gets there.
– Cliff Rold (Marquez)
I am very lucky to be at ringside for this fight. Like Brandon Rios-Mike Alvarado, this fight has "Fight of the Year" written all over it. Both fighters have world title belts, which adds to the luster of the fight as well as these fighters have been dropped in fights in recent years. Don not be surprised if there are multiple knockdowns in this fight. Viloria has had some impressive victories, including his victory over Giovani Segura. He can fight well inside the pocket, but Marquez has Robert Garcia in his corner. One would think that the Mexican may have improved his skills spending over two months in Oxnard. Both will see the canvas at least once before Marquez has his hand raised by the 9th or 10th round.
- Francisco Salazar (Marquez)
Marquez TKO11 - The epitome of a 50/50 fight. This is a very important fight for both and they will approach it as such. I think Viloria will control the fight for the most part in a back and forth affair. Just when it looks like Viloria might have this one in the bag, I think Marquez will feel the urgency and turn it up. I see him catching Viloria late and scoring a stoppage in a real thriller
- Luis Sandoval (Marquez)
Can be a real barnburner. Viloria is more educated an polished of the two but the Mexican has more of raw power and physical strength. Still, by mixing his underrated counterpunch abilities with better defense, Viloria will have an upper hand in what will be a tense and crowd-pleasing affair. Viloria UD
– Alexey Sukachev (Viloria)
Total: Hernan Marquez 6, Brian Viloria 4
The Viloria-Marquez flyweight title unification bout headlines a card which airs live on Wealth TV and Mexico Azteca from the Sports Arena in Los Angeles, CA.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox