To my mind, one of the best boxing stories of 2015 has been the fact that Roman Gonzalez has finally started to get the kind of recognition he deserves in the United States. The three-division world champion is 43-0 with 37 KOs and at just 28, is still very much in his athletic prime. He’s laid absolute waste to the strawweight, light flyweight and flyweight divisions.
Gonzalez finally made his HBO debut in May, when he blasted experienced veteran Edgar Sosa in just two rounds on the undercard for WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin’s defense against Willie Monroe Jr. Earlier this week, HBO made the official announcement that Gonzalez would face former two-division champion Brian Viloria on the co-main event for Golovkin’s pay-per-view unification fight with IBF champion David Lemieux in October.
This fight makes a very exciting card even better. There are few tougher opponents out there for Gonzalez at 112 pounds than “Hawaiian Punch.” The 2000 Olympian is one of the best technical boxers and most experienced fighters in the world below 115 pounds.
Viloria first became a world champion in 2005, when he captured the WBC light flyweight title from Eric Ortiz via first round knockout. He dropped the belt to Omar Nino Romero less than a year later, but won the IBF version of the belt by stopping Archie Solis in Round 11 in April 2009. He lost that belt to Carlos Tamara by Round 12 TKO in a fight he was winning on two cards in January 2010.
Viloria had the best years of his career in 2011 and 2012. In July 2011 he beat Julio Cesar Miranda for the WBO flyweight title. In December of that year, he stunned much of the boxing world by completely schooling the hard-punching Giovani Segura, who was then ranked in the Ring’s pound-for-pound top 10, knocking him out in eight rounds. In May 2012 he avenged his previous loss to Romero, stopping him in nine. In November 2012, he knocked out WBA champion Hernan Marquez in Round 10 of a unification bout.
Viloria lost his belts by split decision to rising star Juan Francisco Estrada in April 2013. Since that fight, he has won four straight against second-, third- and even fourth-tier competition. This fight with Gonzalez represents his return to elite competition.
Gonzalez is the clear-cut favorite here. Still, Viloria is a smart, tough veteran who could put up an exciting fight.