by Cliff Rold, photos by Tom Hogan/Hoganphotos
For the first time since the LBJ administration, barring a draw, someone is going to leave a boxing ring with two major titles at Flyweight. For the first time in his career, one of the most prominent hopefuls for boxing’s tomorrow is stepping in the ring with someone who stands out as near the top of a division.
The former will come live on Wealth TV. For those who don’t have the channel, and few do, their website offers an affordable subscription. The latter will come on HBO, and those who have it already know what their subscription fees are.
One need not choose necessarily. If Wealth is viewed online, HBO can be on at the same time. It’s like picture-in-picture with a better small box. The point: there are two fights worth watching on Saturday night.
Among the little men, the victor is harder to assume.
Let’s go to the report cards.
Title: WBO Flyweight (2011-Present, 2 Defenses)
Previous Titles: WBC Light Flyweight (2005-06, 1 Defense); IBF Light Flyweight (2009-10, 1 Defense)
Weight: 111.8 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 111.95 lbs.
Hails from: Waipahu, Hawaii
Record: 31-3, 18 KO, 1 KOBY, 1 No Contest
BoxingScene Rank: #1 at Flyweight
Record in Major Title Fights: 7-3, 4 KO, 1 KOBY, 1 No Contest
Current/Former World Champions Faced: 9 (Gilberto Keb Baas KO11; Eric Ortiz KO1; Jose Antonio Aguirre UD12; Omar Nino L12, NC12, TKO9; Edgar Sosa L12; Ulises Solis KO11; Carlos Tamara TKO by 12; Julio Cesar Miranda UD12; Giovanni Segura TKO8)
Hernan “Tyson” Marquez
Title/Previous Titles: WBA Flyweight (2011-Present, 2 Defenses)
Weight: 110.8 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 112.65 lbs.
Hails from: Empalme, Sonora, Mexico
Record: 34-2, 25 KO, 1 KOBY
BoxingScene Rank: #3 at Flyweight
Record in Major Title Fights: 3-0, 3 KO (3-1, 3 KO, 1 KOBY including interim title fights)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 2 (Nonito Donaire TKO by 8; Luis Concepcion TKO11, TKO1)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Viloria B+; Marquez B+
Pre-Fight: Power – Viloria A-; Marquez A-
Pre-Fight: Defense – Viloria B; Marquez B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Viloria B+; Marquez B+
The grades are no accident. This is about as even a fight as there can be. Viloria is on the best win streak of his career since moving up to Flyweight. His evisceration of Giovanni Segura was a career highlight. A rubber match stoppage of Omar Nino put the ghost of his first loss behind him.
While the two men have had an equal number of fights, Viloria’s show a far deeper pool of opposition. Marquez, the younger man, picked up a lot of development wins as he honed his craft. Viloria, a former U.S. Olympian, has been fighting tough stuff for most of the last eight years. Both men have shown the ability to ice a man early but, typically, they need rounds to get rid of foes. They are big punchers for Flyweight, if not quite the sort of single shot artists that Michael Carbajal and Mark Johnson could be in their heyday.
Will the experience matter when the bell rings? Marquez has certainly come a long way since losing to Donaire. In that fight, where he moved up a class, he had some good rounds and was more outsized than outsped. He has deceptively quick hands, and his speed and straight southpaw left could act as an effective weapon against Viloria. One of the problems Viloria has often had is that, when fighters fire in combination off a good jab (which Marquez has), he can be caught waiting.
It was what hurt him in losses to Nino and Sosa. What could help is that sometimes Marquez gets off balance on offense. Viloria remains a deadly counter puncher, his short hooks and crosses able to explode to target. Marquez was hurt more than once by the hammering power of Luis Concepcion. Viloria may not hit as hard, but he hits more accurately. That can count for more.
But what if this turns into the sort of all-out war Marquez-Concepcion I turned into? Viloria has struggled late in fights in the recent past. He faded while well ahead against Carlos Tamara and had to do a bit of holding late against Miranda. At 31, he’s already getting up there for a Flyweight. In a fight where both men can, and likely will, be hurt, the edge in legs might lean to the younger man.
This fight could go a lot of ways. It could be a barnburner, a chess match between punchers who like to box, or a showcase where one man accelerates in their big moment of opportunity. On paper, it leaves more room to wonder than the main event on HBO.
Title/Previous Titles: WBC Lightweight (2011-Present, 2 Defenses)
Weight: 134.5 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 135.4 lbs.
Hails from: Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico
Record: 28-2-1, 21 KO, 1 KOBY
BoxingScene Rank: #1 at Lightweight
Record in Major Title Fights: 3-1, 3 KO, 1 KOBY (4-1, 4 KO, 1 KOBY including interim title fights)
Current/Former World Champions Faced: 2 (Edwin Valero KO by 9; Jorge Linares TKO11)
Previous Titles: WBO Super Featherweight (2011-Present, 1 Defense)
Weight: 134.5 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 130.05 lbs.
Hails from: Cincinnati, Ohio
Record: 24-0, 20 KO
BoxingScene Rank: Unrated
Record in Major Title Fights: 2-0, 2 KO
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 1 (Daniel Ponce De Leon UD10)
Pre-Fight: Speed – DeMarco B; Broner A
Pre-Fight: Power – DeMarco B+; Broner B+
Pre-Fight: Defense – DeMarco C-; Broner B+
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – DeMarco B+; Broner B+
Fair or unfair, this fight is more about where Broner is than the fight itself. Broner has shown hints of exceptional talent but debatable wins over Fernando Quintero and Daniel Ponce De Leon earlier in his career leave some doubters. If the talent is to meet the hype, this fight should be a decisive win.
That’s why fights take place in a ring and not in some sort of fistic talent combine.
DeMarco presents some unique challenges. He’s proven tough. While he wilted under the pressure of Valero, he hung around for a long time. Against Linares, in a fight with a similar natural talent deficit to this one, he did more than hang around. DeMarco stayed in the fight through blood and pain and kept punching. Linares didn’t have the durability to stay with him and, well ahead on the cards, fell apart in the championship rounds.
That sort of grit can pose problems. So too can his size. He’s taller than all but Jason Litzau among Broner’s last five foes and with a much more proven chin than Litzau. Also unlike Litzau, he has substantially heavy hands to punch back with. Will those heavy hands get through the guard of Broner?
Broner has steadily improved in a defensive posture that many see as mimicking Floyd Mayweather. He doesn’t throw a ton of shots but, when relaxed, his picks them well. If he hurts his man, Broner has shown real finishing quality. He also has quick feet so, even if he can’t hurt DeMarco with single shots, he can tire the titlist by making him come to Broner. His ring generalship can carry come close rounds for judges who aren’t finding a lot of contact.
Broner, for all the attention he’s received, hasn’t fought that stiff of competition yet. He didn’t really face anyone near the top of a fairly shallow Jr. Lightweight class. He’s moved up to where his body took him and DeMarco is where he should be at this point in his career. It represents a solid step up. That DeMarco rates at, or among, the top Lightweights might be an indication of a down division but that’s no sin. He’s what is there and that’s all Broner can fight.
DeMarco might be better than realized, though for now he looks just good enough. For all the drama of the Linares win, it’s impossible to overlook that he barely won a round before that finish. He did about the same against Valero in falling short.
If Broner is going to be better than just a talent, this is where we start to find out.
Ultimately, Broner-DeMarco looks like a fairly typical development-of-a-star fight dressed up pretty because of where the various ratings stand right now. Could this be the sort of night fellow Al Haymon charge Andre Berto had against Cosme Rivera or even Luis Collazo?
If it is, win or lose, Broner’s stock would take a hit. If he lost, he could still go on to have an excellent career but all this talk about pound-for-pound futures would be hushed. As the challenger, Broner enters in more the champion’s position. The pressure is more on him to deliver as the sizable favorite. DeMarco is playing with house money.
The expectation here is something between a breakout performance and a pedestrian decision. Broner is too smart to get into prolonged exchanges but may resort to potshot offense to pick his way to a win if DeMarco takes his best shots well. The pick is Broner in a fight where he shows just enough to keep the hype moving and win comfortably without sending his star machine into overdrive.
In the better fight on paper, the thinking is youth prevails. Marquez doesn’t have the experience of Viloria, but part of experience is getting it. At 24, and with a more consistent offense, he should be able to set the pace and land more. Viloria might hurt him in spots, but he can hurt right back. He took some monster cracks from Donaire and didn’t fall apart right away. Viloria is his size and he’ll know he can survive.
It should be close through six or eight rounds, but Viloria is going to struggle past that point. The southpaw angles of Marquez will present problems and as the connections go up late, Viloria could tire. The pick here is Marquez on a stoppage sometime in the last third of a high-paced, technically sound puncher’s duel.
Let’s just hope it doesn’t take another near fifty years for a unification fight at Flyweight.
Report Card Picks 2012: 58-20
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transanational Boxing Ratings Board, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]