BRIAN Viloria (35-4, 21KOs) remains to be one of the stalwarts and vanguards of Philippine boxing.
At 34, he still retains most of the speed and power that saw him rise to the top of the flyweight food chain.
The “Hawaiian Punch” had a disastrous 2013 but he bounced back nicely with three wins in 2014. Though these were not top level fights, at least he kept himself active and showed he still was a class above the second-tier competition.
He defeated Juan Herrera via unanimous decision, then went to Macau, China to dispose of Jose Alfred Zuniga in 5 rounds. He capped off a productive year by stopping Armando Vasquez with a body shot in the 4th round.
Viloria is currently ranked No. 2 by The Ring Magazine with Juan Francisco Estrada at no. 1 and Roman Gonzales as the flyweight champion.
You will recall that Estrada defeated Viloria via split decision back in 2013 in a grueling title fight that was closely fought till the very end.
Again, Viloria’s stamina woes were in full display and this infirmity will continue to beset him and further derail his hopes of becoming a world champion again. There’ s no doubt about his power, speed and boxing skills but Brian’s inability to last long and stay strong till the championship rounds is his Achilles heel.
Stamina woes aside, Estrada is a winnable fight for him and he would have the advantage in speed against “Chocolatito” Gonzales.
Former world champion Merlito Sabillo (23-1, 12KOs) had a rather disastrous 2014.
After annexing the WBO minimumweight crown in 2013, Sabillo was defeated by Juan Francisco Rodriguez in 10 rounds in Nueva Leon, Mexico.
On the comeback trail last November, he was matched up against an obscure Faris Neggo, but lost via TKO in the 4th round as a legal punch caused a severe cut which necessitated a stoppage.
Call it a spate of bad luck, but Sabillo has to learn from these losses and move on.
It’s back to the drawing board for him, but with two consecutive setbacks, there seems to a whole slew of contenders ahead of him on that queue.
Marvin Sonsona (19-1, 15KOs) is another bright spot in Philippine boxing. His bohemian approach, cocky demeanor matched with blinding speed and power will always draw a fair share of admirers, as well as critics.
After an uneventful 2013, Sonsona got his career back on track in 2014 with two big
victories. The first was a knockout of Akifumi Shimoda in the 3rd round. It was such an impressive stoppage that this fight became a contender for knockout of the year honors.
At around 1:52 mark of the 4th round, the Japanese fighter was trying to chase down Sonsona along the corner when the latter suddenly unleashed an uppercut from hell which landed flush on the unsuspecting Shimoda’s chin.
The latter fell down like he’d been shot, and the ref didn’t bother to finish the count.
Next up was a rematch against the only fighter to have tarnished his record- Wilfredo Vasquez Jr., who defeated him via KO in 4 rounds back in 2010.
Sonsona started out strong and scored a knockdown in round 1. He continued to dominate the early rounds, but Vasquez came on strong in the middle stages of the fight. The fight was up for grabs entering the championship rounds, but Sonsona edged it to win via split decision.
Sonsona’s two contrasting victories in 2014 are emblematic of his fistic capacities. At one moment, he can be fast, vicious and dominant. In the next, his focus wavers and he takes his eye away from the prize.
At age 24, Sonsona still has a long career ahead of him, that is-if he wants one. As long as his head is screwed on in the right place, the future seems boundless and limitless for him. There’s no denying the talent he has, but he needs to re-dedicate himself to the sport, full time.
LAST ROUNDS. Are on Dondi and Hazel Pantaleon and “Tatay” Ben Pantaleon. Cheers!
(Follow me on Twitter: @thelastround)