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Newly-crowned WBO flyweight champ, and former USA boxing Olympian Brian ‘The Hawaiian Punch’ Viloria (29-3-0, 16KOs) is definitely one of the most talented Filipino-blooded boxers of this era. Truth be told, there was a time when some even considered him as the best.
But after seeing his performances in big fight after big fight, I can’t help but compare him to another talented athlete in the form of NBA superstar LeBron James.
Both guys are extremely gifted and have had success in their respective sports. But just like the current version of James, Viloria has troubles with closing.
Viloria and James are probably two of the best “three-quarter athletes” I’ve seen. They are flat-out amazing in big fights and big games if you shut off your TV after the third quarter. But for some reason, both guys disappear in the clutch.
Viloria’s victory over the determined, yet fatigued Julio Cesar Miranda last weekend, to me, was like watching game 3 of the 2011 NBA Finals. Yes, the Heat won that one, but almost squandered a 14-point lead in the final minutes to eek out a 2-point win. LeBron went MIA. And I’m not talking about the guy moving to Miami; he went missing in action.
So did Viloria- again.
Just when you thought Viloria would finish off Miranda, he pulled back and the Mexican champion was able to get back in the fight through his sheer will. And in the final two rounds, Viloria was almost non-existent and was content at holding on, running a round, and at one point, literally running away from his opponent.
He did the same thing when he lost his IBF light flyweight title to Carlos Tamara in January of 2010. Did it too when he lost a majority draw to Edgar Sosa and drew and lost to Omar Nino Romero. “I’ve had it with Viloria. He always lets me down and fades in the end,” a Filipino sports scribe told me last weekend.
Luckily for him this time around, he built a sustainable lead in the beginning of the fight against Miranda that allowed him to escape with the belt in his hometown despite his late game failings. Had the fight been in Mexico, do you think the same result would’ve happened?
At least that’s one department Viloria is different from LeBron. LeBron choked in the end game at home, and lost too. Oh, and the fact that Viloria can come home without getting booed by his hometown crowd.
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