By Peter Lim
Isn't this showdown reminiscent of a miniaturized Rumble in the Jungle? Starve Foreman and Ali down to half their body weights and chop off their heights by a foot and what you get is Roman Gonzalez versus Brian Viloria - a seemingly indestructible destroyer at the peak of his prowess against an accomplished 34-year-old veteran whom many consider past his prime. Both are multi-division world titleholders and potential Hall of Fame inductees.
Style-wise, Gonzalez is a rare breed of educated slugger while Viloria is a quintessential boxer-puncher. As his record suggests, Gonzalez (43-0, 37 KOs) has been nothing but consistent thus far in his career, having beaten everyone he has faced including several fighters who defeated Viloria. Both an overachiever and underachiever, Viloria (36-4, 22 KOs) has shined against top-shelf fighters but also under-performed down to the level of mediocre to above-average opponents. Like Ali in Kinshasa 41 years ago, Viloria enters the ring a substantial underdog in New York.
Assets and liabilities
Power: Both fighters' formidable punching power stem not from their physical strength per se, but timing and accuracy. Conventional wisdom suggests that a calculating boxer-puncher always has a higher connect rate than a relentless volume puncher, analogous in military lingo, to a sniper always having more kills, bullet for bullet, than a machine gunner. But the exception proves the rule in this case.
Viloria does pack one-punch knockout power, especially with explosive counters, but they have to be perfectly timed and smack on the button to get the job done. He knows how to set his opponents up for a fight-ending punch, but more often than not, he doesn't connect cleanly enough to get the desired result. Gonzalez, on the other hand, throws punches in bunches with remarkable pinpoint precision. Even arm punches, thrown without much torque or leverage, can force opponents to reset and regroup because they connected spot on.
Body punching: Gonzalez is a headhunter; when he punches to the body it's a means to an end, secondary almost, designed to set up subsequent shots to the head rather than inflict damage in and of themselves. When Viloria zeroes in on the torso, he blasts away with the wickedest of intentions.
Chin: Both fighters have proven to have sturdy whiskers but Viloria's have been tested more than Gonzalez's. Viloria has been in more give-and-take wars and in his only stoppage loss against Carlos Tamara, he was more out of gas than hurt. Offense being Gonzalez's best defense, he rarely allows an opponent to plant his feet long enough to deliver a big punch.
Defense: Here again, conventional wisdom is defied. Gonzalez has superb armor and head movement but it is often overlooked because of his hyper-intense offense. Viloria, supposedly the more cerebral of the two, has been caught flush by stick-and-movers and crude brawlers alike.
The sport of boxing could certainly benefit from the publicity windfall that an against-all-odds, Ali KO8 Foreman type upset would generate, but at age 34, can Viloria repeat at the garden what a 32-year-old Ali pulled off in the jungle? That Viloria has struggled against gatekeeper type opponents suggests he lacks the versatility to adjust and improvise mid-fight like Ali did with the rope-a-dope 41 years ago.
But despite the overwhelming odds against him, there remain a few remote scenarios in which Viloria might emerge victorious. He does have the capacity to end a fight with a single punch but, as mentioned above, it has to be a perfectly-timed direct hit. Should Viloria connect consistently with rib-rattling body shots, will it take it's toll on Gonzalez in the later rounds?
Viloria is most dangerous when hurt and at the receiving end of relentless double-fisted attacks, which is exactly Gonzalez's modus operandi. And the Hawaiian Punch does have a knack for stopping fighters with high knockout percentages who had never or rarely been stopped.
Read this blogger's prediction for Gonzalez-Viloria at: peterliminator.blogspot.com/2015/10/roman-gonzalez-vs-brian-viloria.html.