POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jul 17, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 10:24 p.m. HST, Aug 05, 2011
He's given everything. Now he's even bled on some who were at ringside Saturday night.
When that right eye swelled up and started to drip crimson midway through Saturday's fight at the Blaisdell, it looked like Brian Viloria's chance at a third world championship might fall by the wayside.
But he endured and won a war against Julio Cesar Miranda, wresting away the WBO flyweight belt in the process.
He went toe-to-toe with Miranda, who came back from a heavy weigh-in and first-round knockdown to battle the hometown hero down to the last second of the 12th and final round.
Miranda regained momentum, but too late, and not enough to climb past Viloria's early lead on the judges' cards, two mainland and one local.
Was this Viloria's toughest fight?
"I'll put it up there. Miranda, he hits hard. It shows in his record. I felt his power. I landed some combinations, too. It was just who wanted it more."
But, like when he last fought here in a successful world title defense two years ago, the crowd was disappointing. Only around 2,500 this time. There should have been more, especially considering the show Viloria put on last time, when he threw roundhouse blows in the final round despite being obviously way ahead on points. That might not have been the smartest thing to do, but it showed heart for the hometown fans ... and he survived it.
YOU WOULD think that would have earned him a bigger crowd this time.
But those who were there got their money's worth and more — overall, good prelims, too.
They shouted his name in unison, kept the Hawaiian Punch going, spurring him to his fifth win in five fights in Hawaii. Bringing him home.
"It helps a lot. It gives me the energy. Hearing everyone chant put me over the top. It energizes you. They supported me since my Olympic days, since my Junior Olympic days. This is for you guys."
Those who showed up were treated to quite a show. But a world champion — and a classy one at that, who no one has ever even whispered a negative thing about — deserves much better in his hometown.
His manager, Gary Gittelsohn, says he hasn't given up on the Hawaii fans, that Viloria will be back to fight again here.
"I was a little disappointed with the crowd," Gittelsohn said. "I don't know what to attribute that to. Maybe it's the state of boxing. But I'm going to keep trying. It's in Brian's best interest to fight here. I think it's going to be like a Broadway opening. It will spread, word of mouth. Anyone who was here and saw it will say, 'You've got to see the next one.' "
True ... but that's what we said after the last one, two years ago.
"Hopefully I'll have more fights, more title defenses here," Viloria said, not embittered at all, still energized by those who chose to attend.
Maybe boxing isn't dead, but it's certainly down for the count when a world championship fight featuring one of Hawaii's finest representatives and greatest sports stars of all-time can't even fill half the house.
"You all should be proud of him," Gittelsohn said. "This is local talent of the rarest kind."
Indeed. Brian Viloria is the best we've got, and once again, he's best in the world.
Reach Star-Advertiser sports columnist Dave Reardon at firstname.lastname@example.org, his "Quick Reads" blog at staradvertiser.com and twitter.com/davereardon.