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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 8, 2001

Viloria draws seasoned foe for debut

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer

Olympian Brian Viloria's professional boxing debut is next week and already there will be an opportunity to draw some comparisons.

Brian Viloria headlines a May 15 boxing card.

Advertiser library photo • March 2, 2000

That's because Viloria opens against Ben Jun Escobia of The Philippines, whose last fight was against Viloria's amateur nemesis, Ivan Calderon.

Matchmaker Lou DiBella said Escobia, who has a 13-13-3 record, has been signed to meet the 20-year-old Waipahu native in a nationally televised four-round flyweight bout on the May 15 card at the Hawai'i Convention Center.

The feature bout, as well as the rest of the 42-round card that will be shown on ESPN's Tuesday Night Fights series, is subject to approval of the Hawai'i State Boxing Commission, which meets today.

Escobia lost a four-round decision to Calderon in New York two weeks ago. It was third pro bout for Calderon, an Olympian from Puerto Rico.

Calderon split two amateur bouts with Viloria last year. He upset Viloria in the semifinal of the America's Olympic Qualifier in Tampa, Fla., ending Viloria's 19-bout winning streak and temporarily denying him an Olympic berth. But Viloria stopped Calderon in the fourth round of the USA-Puerto Rico dual meet in Connecticut six months later.

Viloria also won a 9-5 decision over Calderon in a 1999 dual meet.

In Escobia, Viloria will get a quick assessment in his pro opening. "The thing that Escobia brings is experience; he's not going to wilt in the big lights," DiBella said. "Even though this is Brian's professional debut, he's had hundreds of amateur bouts and knows what he's doing in there. Putting him in with somebody who has just one or two fights wouldn't help him (develop)."

Escobia, who turned 30 last month, has fought eight 10-rounders and has five knockouts.

"He is a strong, experienced fighter who comes straight at you, which makes him very good competition for Brian," said Gary Gittselsohn, Viloria's manager.

Jesus Salud of Nanakuli meets Fernando "Bobby Boy" Velardez of California in the 10-round junior featherweight main event. Salud is 62-10 with 37 knockouts. Velardez is 17-4-1 with 4 KOs.

Other bouts on the scheduled 3 p.m. card: Jose Navarro (3-0) vs. Carlos Zambrano (3-4-1, 1 KO), six rounds, junior bantamweights; Ann Wolfe (6-1, 4 KOs) vs. Vienna Williams (5-0, 2 KOs), 10 rounds, International Female Boxing Association world junior middleweight title; Trena Drotar (3-4, 3 KOs) vs. Roberta Baldeagle (0-1), four rounds, bantamweights; and John Lopez (5-4, 3 KOs) vs. Anthony Simpkins (7-1-1, 3 KOs), eight-round junior featherweights.

Tickets for the fight, which promoters say will be blacked out on O'ahu, are available at Ticket Plus outlets and by calling 526-4400.