This coming Saturday the little men of boxing take over Inglewood, California with a trio of world title bouts taking place in the Flyweight and Super Flyweight divisions. One of those bouts will feature veteran American-Filipino Brian Viloria (38-5-0-2, 23) take on little known Artem Dalakian (15-0, 11), a Ukrainian fighter who was born in Azerbaijan, for the WBA Flyweight title. For Viloria the bout could be a final bout at the top, and a chance to finish his long career as a champion, whilst Dalakian will be wanting to announce himself as a top tier fighter.
Viloria's professional career has been a genuine roller-coaster. He made his professional debut in 2001, after an outstanding amateur career that saw him become World Amateur Champion back in 1999 and competed at the 2000 Olympics. As a professional Viloria was fast tracked and in 2005 claimed the WBC world title by stopping Eric Ortiz inside a round. Sadly his first reign was a short one, lasting just 11 months, and just a single successful title defense, before he lost the belt to Omar Nino Romero. Viloria would claim the IBF title in 2009 by stopping Ulises Solis, to become a 2-time world champion, but again his reign was a short lived one and he lost the title the following year to Carlos Tamara. In 2011 we saw Viloria become a 3-time champion, as he beat Julio Cesar Miranda for the WBO Flyweight title, and had his best reign, stopping Giovani Segura, avenging a loss to Omar Nino Romero and unifying the WBA and WBO titles with a thrilling win over Hernan Marquez.
What has basically been the way with Viloria's career is success followed by a stumble, followed by more success and another stumble. It often seemed like Viloria was unable to decide what he was in the ring. Was he a boxer, or a puncher? He could certainly bang, but came up against fighters who could take his power and test his stamina, eventually out lasting him. If he boxed he'd have to be more cautious, but still preserve his stamina and not have too much wasted movement. Being lost between the two styles often cost him. Despite being excellent at both, he wasn't quite elite at either, and could be out punched or out boxed, and had stamina issue that were always going to be a problem in the later rounds. As he matured those issues continued to be with him, and at 37 it's hard to know just what he has left in the tank. If he was was in his prime he'd be very strongly favoured here, despite some inconsistent performances, but at 37, with almost 17 years of professional experience behind him, 333 rounds, and 45 fights....one must wonder what he has left.
Aged 30 Dalakian is a real unknown on the world stage. He was supposed to fight for the title last year, against Kazuto Ioka who retired from the sport after issues with his father and manager. The Ukrainian has had to wait for his eventual shot and will be coming into this bout following a lengthy lay off, having not fought since last April, and he has only fought 17 rounds in the last 24 months, a possible issue here. Saying that however he is a heavy handed fighter who has stopped his last 4 foes, and has only been taken 12 rounds so far. On one hand that says something about his competition, which has been “middling” at best with his most notable win being a TKO over the 38 year old Silvio Olteanu, but on the other he does hit hard and is not someone to trade with for long.
Footage of Dalakian shows a very big looking flyweight, who is confident in his power, his chin and his physicality. His defense looks questionable, with his hands often by his waist, but it looks to be a choice by design, rather than an out and out flaw,as he looks to entice opponents to open up on him and give him a chance to land his shots. The openness may cost him against a top tier opponent, but he looks like he's going to be a handful for anyone just through sheer physical attributes and power. In terms of skills they are there, but look rather raw in certain fights and that's a surprise given he was a decent amateur fighter himself, and managed to compete in several notable amateur competitions.
If Viloria was in his prime we would expect his power, his skills, and his accuracy to be too much for the slower, cruder and more open Dalakian. There would be a chance that Viloria would tire himself out with power shots and not manage to blast out the Ukrainian, but we'd favour Viloria. However we don't have a prime Viloria with us any more and we suspect Dalakian's power, and physicality will be too much for Viloria, who will be broken down and stopped in the middle rounds. This will be fun, but really just a send off for the Filipino-American veteran.
Since the retirement of Floyd Mayweather Jr we have seen the world of boxing crown a new pound-for-pound #1 fighter, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (43-0, 37). The little Nicaraguan sensation has finally received the recognition that hardcore fans, lower weight fans and Japanese fans have been giving him for years. On October 16th we see Gonzalez attempt to move to 44-0 and make the next defense of his WBC Flyweight title as he takes on Filipino-American Brian Viloria (36-4-0-2, 22) in what looks to be a mouth watering test for for the new pound-for-pound king.
Gonzalez's rise from obscurity to 3-weight world champion and pound-for-pound status has been a relatively slow climb though that many fans expected of him from relatively early in his career. In fact you need to go back to 2008 for his first “break out” performance, a 4th round TKO win over the then WBA Minimumweight champion Yutaka Niida. It was in that bout that Gonzalez showed impressive power, skills maturity for a 21 year old fighting away from home. The following year he would return to Japan and take a clear win over Katsunari Takayama, in what was a clear decision with Takayama doing all he could to see out the final few rounds.
Since announcing himself in Japan Gonzalez has managed to make a name for himself in Mexico, with wins over the likes of Manuel Vargas, Omar Salado and Juan Francisco Estrada, all whom were beat whilst Gonzalez was the WBA Light Flyweight champion. For many fans in the west it was the Estrada bout, aired in the US, that brought Gonzalez some new fans, it was a 2012 FOTY contender and one of the best bouts in recent years between two men who essentially beat each other up for 12 highly entertaining rounds. An impressive win over Akira Yaegashi last year saw Gonzalez become the WBC Flyweight champion and further strengthen his claim of being one of the world truly elite level fighters.
This year we've seen Gonzalez finally break through to the mainstream with his HBO debut, a very impressive and destructive win over Edgar Sosa. That win saw HBO and American fight fans make it clear that they wanted more of him and just 5 months after his HBO debut he's back again in what looks to be a genuinely tough match up against Viloria.
Before we get on to Viloria we'll just talk about Gonzalez's style. He is able to box and move but at his best he's a marauding pressure fighter, he cuts off the ring, brings the fight to you and beats you with vicious and sharp combinations. If Floyd Mayweather was a defense genius then Gonzalez was his offensive contemporary with the best offensives footwork and combinations in the sport. He's fast, strong, powerful and staggeringly destructive. If has a flaw it's possibly his defense which can slip at times, though usually he's on point with that as well using a tight guard and good head movement.
Now Viloria, the American Olympian has long been a favourite of the hardcore fans and Filipino fans and for much of the last decade or so has been the one Flyweight who looked like he could become a US TV staple. Unfortunately he has often found himself have momentum stopping set backs just as he's looked ready to kick on with his career.
Saying that however Viloria is a 2-weight world champion himself and holds a really respectable number of world level wins. They include wins over the likes of Gilberto Keb Baas, Eric Ortiz, who be heat for the WBC Light Flyweight title, Jose Antonio Aguirre, Ulises Solis, Julio Cesar Mirando, Giovani Segura, Omaro Nino Romero and Hernan Marquez. Sadly losses to Romero, Edgar Sosa, Carlos Tamara and most recently Juan Francisco Estrada have stopped him from becoming the star that many hoped he would become.
At 34 years old Viloria is old for a Flyweight and has been through the hard, career draining, battles yet he is still a more than capable boxer-puncher who can really, genuinely, do every thing in the ring. He's been blessed with spiteful power, as seen in his win over Ortiz, and has developed fantastic boxing ability. The problem sometimes however is that he's not sure on whether he's a boxer or a puncher and can get stuck between the two, he's also shown questionable stamina, notable in his bouts with Tamada and Estrada. At 34 that stamina is unlikely to have improved.
Although a very good boxer Viloria is likely to be needing to rely on his power here as Gonzalez will almost certainly bring the intense pressure that has became a staple of his recent bouts. If Viloria can hurt Gonzalez then things could be interesting however we suspect Viloria will struggle to land clean and instead he will be forced to eat the combinations of Gonzalez until the challenger is eventually worn down.
Hopefully the winner of this will move towards another divisional super fight, with perhaps Amnat Ruenroeng, Juan Francisco Estrada or Kazuto Ioka. If that happens then it's going to be very hard for American boxing media and the casual fight fans to continue to ignore the Flyweight division, arguable the most exciting division in the sport today.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.