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Marriage re-energizes Viloria as he seeks title

By Dave Reardon

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 09:36 a.m. HST, Jul 13, 2011


Seven months later and the honeymoon has yet to end for Brian and Erica Viloria, who were wed last Dec. 3 at the Royal Hawaiian.

Actually, it hasn't started.

"I told Brian, even before we got married, that I want him to focus on his career," says Erica, who adds that a vacation in Europe can wait until sometime after her husband fights Julio Cesar Miranda for a third world championship Saturday at the Blaisdell.

"Boxing has a short time frame. He has to do it while he has the opportunity. He fought a few weeks before our wedding. Afterward, I told him go back to the gym and stay in shape."

Viloria knows better than to argue about it.

"Being married is almost the same thing as before, except now I have a better sparring partner. I'm the punching bag," he says, laughing before his workout at Kakaako Gym on Tuesday. "She keeps me grounded."

Viloria makes sure to add that the jabs are all verbal, and that his wife has a positive direct effect on his training. Erica works as a nurse in a cardiac ward; Brian says her expertise in physiology often helps determine when he should push harder or pull back a bit while training.

"And some of her colleagues are very helpful, too, in areas such as nutrition," he says.

It appears marriage hasn't softened Brian Viloria, now 30. If anything he's reenergized, and as hungry as ever. Coming home this week for his final prefight prep reinforces that.

"ALL YOU NEED is a big heart and a dirty gym," says Chris Huntwork, a longtime denizen of Kakaako Boxing Club. As coach Bruce Kawano says, it's not really that dirty, but it is gritty, and that's why Viloria trains here when in Hawaii.

The Kakaako Boxing Club isn't housed in your typical boxing gym, and it isn't even in Kakaako -- it's in Kalihi, on the second floor above a paint shop, where the generous Masa Nakaoka still runs things.

It's also home to recently crowned USA Boxing national champion Haley Pasion. Yesterday she met Viloria, a fellow Waipahu High School alumnus. He became more than just a picture on the wall of the gym's office, alongside those of Hawaii boxing legends from previous generations such as Bobo Olson and Dado Marino.

"The link is very important," says Stuart Okamura, one of Pasion's coaches. "It means you have something to shoot for. She's thinking Olympics and World Championships and fighting as a pro. The fact that someone else from Hawaii has done that makes her believe she can."

For Viloria, the inspiration is reciprocal.

"This is what it's about. When I go in that office and see those clippings from when I was 13 and 14, it takes me back and I remember all the hard work and the dreams.

"And all the kids, and their dreams. You see how hungry they are, how they want to be world champs and they're willing to put in the work. You get that young sense, of wanting to be a world champ. They ask a lot of questions, and I help them however I can. I've been in their shoes."

VILORIA DOESN'T know how many more fights he has in him. He's 28-3 as a pro, including winning nine of his past 10. He just knows that he still loves the fight game, that his body feels great and he's ready to put on a show and win a belt in his hometown, again.

If he wins Saturday, it would mean three world championships in three different boxing organizations.

"I think it is kind of a magic number. And, at this stage in my life I think this one is special. You win it, you lose it, you win it, you lose it. Now I want to win it again.

"One thing I learned is that it's harder to hold onto a title than to get one. You become a big target. You've got what everyone else wants."

On Jan. 23, 2010, Viloria suffered one of his three pro losses, by TKO to Carlos Tamara in Viloria's first title defense after taking the IBF lightweight belt against Jesus Iribe (the last time he fought in Hawaii). He took a pounding in the late rounds and went to a hospital later with heat exhaustion and a severe headache.

"That one, when he went to the hospital, was scary," Erica says. "Sometimes it's very hard to watch, hard to sit still."

But as he did before, Viloria came back, and will fight for a world title again.

"I always support him, because boxing has always been his life," Erica Viloria says. "And when he chooses to retire, I'll support that. He's a man of many talents."


Reach Star-Advertiser sports columnist Dave Reardon at dreardon@staradvertiser.com, his "Quick Reads" blog at staradvertiser.com and twitter.com/dave_reardon.






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