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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, March 12, 2006

Viloria pleased as punch

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Columnist

A return home to defend his World Boxing Council light-flyweight championship in Hawai'i? A feature bout at Madison Square Garden? Or, in the Philippines, perhaps?

Home Box Office or Showtime?

The prospect of these options and others like them are what Waipahu's Brian Viloria has fought and sweated for nearly five years as a professional. They are what have kept bringing him back to the gym. That and the WBC championship belt that make them possible, of course.

When the unbeaten Viloria (19-0, 12 knockouts) out-pointed Jose Antonio Aguirre in Las Vegas three weeks ago in his first title defense, it opened up a lot of doors, wallets and, as he is finding out, more.

"Brian's career is at a very wonderful point now," manager Gary Gittelsohn said.

Indeed, while the right hand that Viloria injured in the Aguirre fight heals, the rights to his next fight are up for offer. The WBC has mandated a title defense against the No. 1 contender, southpaw Juanito Rubillar (37-9-7, 17 KOs) of the Philippines, and the period of free negotiation has begun. Not a bad thing at all when there is the prospect of competition.

"While it (the hand) gets better, I'm going to enjoy it before I have to go back to the gym," Viloria said. "All the work is paying off."

Handsomely, apparently. Already, there are reports of a $150,000 offer by Rubillar's manager, Gabriel Elorde Jr., which would be Viloria's most lucrative purse. Gittelsohn said he plans to meet shortly with Viloria's promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank Inc., who is expected to make an offer that would postpone the Rubillar fight and allow Viloria a unification bout with International Boxing Federation champ Ulysses Solis as a co-main spot on a Miguel Cotto card in New York in June.

If there is no agreement between the two camps by the April 7 deadline, then the WBC invites open bidding, awarding the fight to the highest bidder with Viloria's purse being 75 percent.

Of course, if Viloria can hang on to the title, more lucrative paydays are down the road. Not so far that he can't glimpse what a showdown with flyweight champion Jorge Arce of Mexico could mean.

Amid all this Viloria has been feted by Hollywood friends in California, where he lives and trains, and in the Philippines, where his family is from. Gittelsohn said Viloria was honored by Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, whose Malacanang Palace chef celebrated the title with a display of cupcakes arrayed to resemble his WBC belt.

For the moment, Viloria, is a rare boxer who been able to have his cake and eat it, too.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8044.