Boxing fans saw the long and the short of it Saturday night as Antonio Margarito and Brian Viloria took alternate routes to the same destination.
Each man made another big step toward more mainstream recognition and rewards, but the length of the stride in terms of how long they spent in the ring was just about as different as mathematically possible.
Margarito blasted out a ready as he could be Manuel Gomez for an impressive opening round TKO.
On the other fist, Viloria got extended to his furthest limit yet as a pro, taking a unanimous decision over Jose Antonio Aguirre. There was much to discuss about Viloria’s development as a fighter in the back and forth battle. Each man showed noteworthy poise and punching.
But first things first, and in tonight’s abbreviated main event, Margarito took care of business in the first.
Quick business it was. Margarito has long been saying he’s ready for bigger challenges. Tonight he proved it again.
“I need to keep showing I can not be ignored,” said Margarito. “Then Bob Arum can really make this my year.”
To hear Arum tell it, just about every big name fighter the light side of 154 has been avoiding any contact or contract with the formidable Mexican powerhouse. Shane Mosley denied any role as an artful dodger, and said he was open to meeting Margarito after Mosley’s “Showdown” with Fernando Vargas.
Margarito, now 33-4, 1 NC, (24), certainly increased his marketability with the steamrolling showcase. It was the sixth defense of his WBO belt.
Huge underdog “Shotgun” Gomez, 28-11-2 (20) looked anxious to prove himself as he entered the ring. The fighters were generally equal in stature but Margarito’s arms looked twice as long as they immediately thumped in like right angle mortars.
Gomez landed a couple punches before Margarito’s repeated right hand introduced dreamland.
Margarito, 146½, drove Gomez, 147, into the strands with a furious barrage. A right-left, right-right combination made Gomez kiss the canvas and spit out his mouthpiece in a reflexive daze. He stumbled up in protest as ref Richard Steele waved it off. Gomez’s legs were made of rubber at the official time of 1:14.
Besides the dramatic splattering, this fight was remarkable since it was one of the few times Steele has stopped a fight without getting unjustly razzed.
“Hawaiian Punch” Viloria, 107, got escorted to his engagement by Vegas style Hula dolls. It was uphill going for Viloria after that.
Aguirre, 107½, now 33-5-1 (20), came from Tabasco, Mexico to win. More than a few times, it looked like he would.
Viloria landed jarring shots from just about the opening bell, but Aguirre stood tall and fired back. Viloria was forced into defensive modes by the end of the first frame, and Aguirre gained serious momentum in the second and third.
Viloria was in some trouble but came back in the fourth and fifth with a solid body attack. As the middle frames progressed it was Aguirre who again had the rhythm and the range. Viloria still had enough power to compensate for any technical difficulties, but by the eighth round it appeared a big upset was at hand.
Viloria understood the situation and used short, counter lefts that increasingly bothered Aguirre to turn the tide. In the tenth frame, Viloria finally seemed to hit his stride. He waved his arms and pumped up the crowd, ready for a big stretch run.
In the eleventh round, a bloody nose stained Aguirre’s previously spotless white trunks.
By the final frame it looked like Viloria was in complete control. He fought smart as Aguirre rushed in desperation. Aguirre couldn’t get close without risking Viloria’s cranked right conker.
At the final bell, Aguirre’s team lifted him on their shoulders. He deserved to celebrate a fine showing, but Viloria had earned the nod. Scoring: Ray Hawkins and CJ Ross 116-112, Glenn Trowbridge 117-111.
Referee Tony Weeks did a good job staying invisible.
“It’s hard enough to get a belt,” said Viloria before this first WBC Light Flyweight title defense, “But it’s even harder to hang on to it.”
That was for sure, since he won his belt with a one-punch knockout. Viloria, now 19-0, 1 ND, (13), didn’t look any the worse for wear tonight. As mettle can be proven under extended pressure, Viloria came a long way in his career.
In the featured undercard bouts, Ivan Calderon took a widespread unanimous decision over Isaac Bustos, and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. took a majority decision over Carlos Molina, who also troubled Chavez in a disputed draw last year.
Let’s hope Top Rank puts the poster boys on another show together soon. When all was said and done by the end of the night, their appearances complimented each other quite well.