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Viloria goes into comeback fight without Garcia in corner

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Brian Viloria is the first to admit the "R word" crept into his mind.

His second world title run ended in shocking – and scary – fashion when the former Waipahu resident’s body gave out on him in the final rounds of a January IBF light flyweight title defense against Carlos Tamara.

Unable to lift his hands to defend himself, his 29th professional fight was stopped in the final minutes of the 12th round after Viloria had dominated most of the bout.

The real drama unfolded in the moments after, when Viloria collapsed in his locker room and had to be rushed to a local hospital.

It turned out not to be serious – severe exhaustion was determined as the cause – but three days in the hospital was plenty of time to ponder the future.

After thinking about retirement and talking to a few people, Viloria, who turns 30 in November, decided it wasn’t the way he wanted to go out.

"I don’t feel like it’s time for me to hang it up," Viloria (26-3, 15 KOs) said early yesterday morning via telephone from the Philippines. "I don’t want to say that just because of what happened I should hang up the gloves just yet.

"Other than the last couple of rounds when my body gave out on me, I was winning the fight. I’m still strong enough to win a world title at a different weight division and that’s what I’m focused on now."

The former WBC and IBF light flyweight (108 pound) champion begins his run at flyweight (112) tomorrow night against Mexican Omar Soto (19-6-2, 13 KOs) in a 10-round bout at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City, Philippines.

Viloria’s 13-week training camp went smoothly until a falling out at the end of June with trainer Roberto Garcia, who had been with Viloria since 2007.

Garcia left Viloria’s camp to work with Nonito Donaire Jr., who fights on the same day as Viloria for the interim WBA world super flyweight championship.

Garcia has been quoted as saying he felt Viloria wasn’t ready for Saturday’s fight after a sickness caused him to miss training time.

Team Viloria manager Gary Gittelsohn saw otherwise.

"He saw an economic opportunity elsewhere and wanted to postpone Brian’s fight so he could do that," Gittelsohn said. "He made up some kind of story and I called him on his bluff because everyone that has seen Brian in training knows he’s ready."

Viloria admitted to missing "a couple of days" with a sore throat, but nothing that has kept him from being fully prepared for Soto.

"(Garcia) had some other agenda and wanted to make more of a deal out of it than it was," Viloria said. "That’s what happens when you’re a sought-after trainer. Your fighters’ priorities clash with your priorities.

"Instead of dealing with it for a long time, I needed to concentrate on my fight and the task at hand instead of what happened, so we moved forward."

Tensions between Garcia and Gittelsohn boiled over after Viloria showed up to Garcia’s Oxnard, Calif., gym last Monday. Viloria’s boxing home for the last three-plus years had been locked up, forcing him to finish training at the Wild Card gym, where former trainer Freddie Roach works with his core group of guys, most notably Manny Pacquiao.

"A lot of people are disgusted with (Garcia’s) actions," Gittelsohn added. "He’s not the kind of guy we want in Viloria’s corner and we’re going to expose him as the naked guy behind a Macy’s window by the time we’re done."

Ruben Gomez, who has been with Viloria for his entire career, has been promoted to the lead trainer. Former WBA super middleweight champion Frankie Liles will also be in his corner.

Gittelsohn said a victory Saturday would open the door for a world title bout late this year, hopefully before Viloria’s scheduled wedding to fiancee Erica Navarro in December.

A loss might mean the end of the line for the former Olympian, who wouldn’t commit either way.

"I don’t really have a timetable of how long I’m going to stay in the sport," Viloria said. "I’m still capable and ready to be a world champion again and I’m just going with that instinct."

Viloria’s fight is scheduled to go off sometime around 3 a.m. Hawaii time Saturday morning.


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