Boxing: Omar Nino
May, 11, 2012
By Kieran Mulvaney | ESPN.com
Few fighters have had more of a roller-coaster career of late than Brian Viloria. In August 2006, Viloria -- a Hawaiian of Filipino descent -- had a 108-pound belt, an undefeated record through 19 fights, a strong and growing fan base, an exciting style in the ring and, in the form of the old "Hawaii Five-0" theme, the catchiest ring entrance music in the business.
Then he ran into Omar Nino Romero. Looking surprisingly flat and uninspired, Viloria struggled with his Mexican opponent, dropping a unanimous decision and losing his belt. Three months later, he and Romero fought to a majority draw that was later called a no-contest after Romero flunked a drug test. Viloria's old title was declared vacant, but in his third consecutive disappointing outing, he failed to win it back when he dropped a majority decision to Edgar Sosa in April 2007.
Two years later, "Hawaiian Punch" seemed reborn, capturing a belt with a late stoppage of Ulises Solis; and then just like that, it all looked over again after a 12th-round TKO loss to unheralded Carlos Tamara.
But now Viloria's career has entered a third act. He moved up to 112 pounds, won another title and, in his most recent outing, defended his belt in an impressive eighth-round stoppage of Giovani Segura. On Saturday, he will meet Romero for the third time, this time in Manila, in a bout that will be shown in the United States on Integrated Sports PPV. Should he finally dispatch his nemesis, plenty of interesting opponents await Viloria. Here are five:
Edgar Sosa (45-7, 27 KOs). Two years after defeating Viloria to annex a junior flyweight title, Sosa lost it inside two rounds to Rodel Mayol and was outpointed in his only subsequent title tilt by longtime champ Pongsaklek Wonjongkam. But Sosa remains a credible contender, and if Viloria can avenge his first defeat, what better way to show that this time he's for real than by reversing his second loss?
Hernan Marquez (33-2, 25 KOs). In ESPN.com's divisional rankings, Viloria is ranked No. 2 while fellow titlist Marquez is No. 1. Marquez's 2011 war with Luis Concepcion was fight of the year stuff. A unification clash with Viloria would almost guarantee action.
Sonny Boy Jaro (34-10-5, 24 KOs). Normally, Jaro wouldn't belong anywhere near this conversation, but after sending Wonjongkam to his first defeat since 1996, the journeyman suddenly finds himself holding a title belt. This could be a natural in the Philippines, and even though Viloria would be a big favorite, his habit of dropping fights he shouldn't could lend this an intriguing air.
Milan Melindo (26-0, 10 KOs). Another potentially attractive all-Filipino clash could see Viloria taking on the undefeated rising youngster. Melindo is the No. 1 ranked contender for Viloria's belt, so this match could be the most likely to be made.
Roman Gonzalez (32-0, 27 KOs). This is probably the least likely of Viloria's potential fights, with Gonzalez still campaigning at 108 pounds. But what a mouth-watering challenge it would be. "El Chocolatito" is one of boxing's best-kept secrets, a terrific young fighter with outstanding knockout power. A fight with the veteran Viloria could raise Gonzalez's profile in the United States overnight.