Brian Viloria and Hernan "Tyson" Marquez brought thrills and chills but didn't quite live up to putting on something that meritted fight of the year. The undercard on the other hand....
Recognized flyweight titles among the 4 major sanctioning bodies haven't previously been unified since Salvatore Burruni reigned as WBA and WBC champion. Burrunti dethroned Thai legend Pone Kingpetch in April of 1965 to pick up both straps but never defended his WBA title. After losing a non-title decision to Horacio Accavallo in August the WBA ordered a rematch for the title but Burrunti refused. Consequently the WBA stripped Burrunti in November of the same year and gave Accavallo the opportunity to win the vacant title against Katsuyoshi Takayama in March of 1966.
While the WBC is still out of the flyweight unification picture, the WBO has opted to take their place. Thus this Saturday night, November 17th, 2012, Brian Viloria (WBO champion) squared off against Hernan Marquez (Super WBA champion) in the most anticipated flyweight showdown on American airways in years. Ironically it may be the biggest flyweight fight on US television since Nonito Donaire vs Vic Darchinyan, which had the IBF and IBO titles on the line. If the "big 4" ever extends to the "big 5", the IBO would surely join the club. But that's another story for another time...
Today the story at hand is Viloria-Marquez. After an extensive and great undercard Brian Viloria and Tyson Marquez fortunately occurred after the competing HBO card (Broner-DeMarco) had already ended. Viloria-Marquez didn't quite live up to its undercard but it was still a solid, high level, intense matchup. Marquez was mostly outclassed and had problems letting his hands go, but did pick his spots well enough to get Viloria in trouble a few times during the fight, particularly the 5th (which is a candidate for round of the year). Unfortunately for Marquez, just about every time he got Viloria in trouble, Viloria would turn things around and put Marquez down. Viloria ultimately dropped Marquez 3 times in the fight: rounds 1, 5, and 10. In the 1st round Viloria countered and dropped Marquez with a right hook when Marquez had him pressed up against the ropes. This made Marquez gun shy all the way to the 5th round where he EXPLODED on Viloria but was put down with another right hand toward the end of the round (this time it was straight).
Marquez punched himself out in round 5 similarly to the 1st round of Alfredo Angulo-James Kirkland back in 2011. Marquez hurt Viloria with a right hook at about 40 seconds into the round and continued his assault without much coming back from Viloria for a full minute. But then Viloria put his punches together, put his body weight behind his shots (as opposed to many of the arm punches Marquez was throwing), and sat Marquez down again. It was mostly the Brian Viloria show after the 5th with Marquez reluctant to exchange anymore, until the last round anyways. A quick counter left hook in round 10 caught Marquez amid a flurry and put him down for the 3rd and final time. Marquez easily beat the count and action even resumed, but it didn't take long for trainer Robert Garcia to wave the white flag and save his fighter from further punishment. Viloria retained his WBO flyweight title and added the Super WBA title to his collection.
Andy Ruiz survived a 2nd round scare (where his knees buckled) and out pointed Rufino Flores.
Drian Francisco waged absolute war with Javier Gallo before stopping him in round 5. The bout was even through 4 rounds and it appeared the momentum was in Gallo's hands when Francisco mounted a huge comeback at the end of the 5th round and pulled a stoppage victory out of nowhere. Gallo didn't go down but he was badly hurt to the body and his body language gave the referee no choice but to stop it.
Rodrigo Garcia stopped Octavio Narvaez in 2 rounds in what was actually the only mismatch of the night.
Roman Gonzalez bested Juan Francisco Estrada in a sure fire fight of the year candidate over 12 rounds to retain his WBA World light flyweight title. The fight seemed closer than the scorecards indicated and I felt that Estrada actually had the better of the 2nd half of the fight. The level of action sustained throughout the bout was incredible. Estrada looked like he would be broken early but just kept coming and even got stronger. He was a machine. Gonzalez on the other hand was the full package as usual. His consistent work to the head and body along with his granite chin earned him a hard fought victory.
While all these trinket unification statistics are well and good, we cannot escape the sad reality that the lineal flyweight championship has remained with the WBC all along. The current flyweight "king" is Toshiyuki Igarashi, and he arguably hasn't deserved to win a world title fight yet. On top of that he's barely scraping by fighters that are clearly not among the best in the division. To make matters worse the WBC has recently employed an anti-unification policy, so we may see the true crown of the division float around from one questionably deserving bearer to another for quite a while. But while the world suffers Toshiyuki Igarashi as their king, Americans will look to Brian Viloria. Meanwhile Africa will insist all roads lead to IBF champion Moruti Mthalane before all is said and done...