IN April 2013, Brian Viloria (32-4, 19KOs) lost his WBO and WBA flyweight titles to Juan Francisco Estrada (25-2, 18KOs) in an action-packed bout at the Cotai Arena in Macau.

That was a painful loss for Viloria considering that he had been on a tear ever since he lost to Carlos Tamarra in 2010, beating some of the best fighters the division had to offer in the likes of Giovani Segura, Omar Niño Romero and Hernan Marquez

Viloria won the early rounds, landing jabs and big right hands but Estrada bucked the much anticipated early onslaught of the defending champion, and true enough, in the middle rounds, Viloria began to tire. As expected.

Estrada eventually took over the fight and battered Viloria, and the though the latter showed the heart of a champion in firing back during the spirited exchanges, the younger man outlasted and out-worked him. The verdict was a split decision, but Estrada clearly deserved that win.

As if to demonstrate that his win over Viloria was no fluke, in his next bout, Estrada bested another one of our top Pinoy contenders in Milan Melindo (30-1, 12KOs) in that very same arena.

Milan made it very competitive, but Estrada utilized his height and reach advantage quite well, peppering the ALA Gym spitfire with jabs and straights to earn a unanimous decision win.

Milan landed his fair share of leather but his activity ebbed during the championship rounds and a knockdown in the 11th cost him big on the scorecards.

Prior to that, Milan did well in Macau, scoring a TKO in the fourth round against Tommy Seran.

After the Estrada loss, Milan bounced back with a unanimous decision win over Jose Alfredo Rodriguez in Manila.

Viloria will be turning 34 this year, and it remains to be seen whether he still a lot left in the gas tank. As he we have seen in all of his losses, his perennial lack of stamina in the championship rounds will always be his Achilles heel.

I’m hoping Viloria can still make a go at one more title run this year, and Milan certainly remains as a viable threat to anybody in this talent-rich division.

Perhaps with their losses to the same opponent, we can finally witness that intriguing (but much avoided) Pinoy vs. Pinoy matchup between these two warriors this year?

Milan’s stablemate Genesis Servania made huge strides in 2013. Servania was ALA Gym’s busiest fighter in terms of high profile matchups, fighting a total of four times (TKO7 Angky Angkota, KO3 Isack Junior, TD9 Konusuke Tomiyama, TKO2 Rafael Concepcion)

“Azukal” Servania gained important media mileage in the Tomiyama duel (fought in Japan) and the Concepcion knockout because the latter was a former world champion who stopped ALA stable-mate AJ Banal;

There seems to be a well-founded consensus that Servania is another world champion in waiting, but this young man from Bacolod needs to be more consistent in his performances. At 22 years of age, he has all the time in the world to develop into a world title contender;

ALA gym’s Jason Pagara also had a propitious 2013, winning two fights via unanimous decision, (W12 Vladimir Baez, W12 Aaron Herrera) to maintain his world ranking and hopefully get in line for a title shot this year.

Another ALA Gym fighter who started to make his mark last year was Arthur Villanueva who went 3 for 3. He won the OPBF crown by beating Marco Demecillo via unanimous decision in April, defeated Arturo Badillo for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific super fly diadem in July, then knocked out Edgar Martinez in just one round to annex the vacant WBO international title last October. (To be concluded on Wednesday)

LAST ROUND. It’s on Mimi Maureen Lim-Co, who celebrates her birthday this week. Cheers!

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