Fight Picks & Previews: Brian Viloria vs. Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman Martinez vs. Diego Magdaleno
On April 6, boxing heads to Macau, and while Chinese Olympic hero Zou Shiming maintains headliner status in his own neck of the woods, the real attractions for fight fans stateside are the two championship bouts on the undercard. At Flyweight, Brian Viloria looks to defend against Juan Francisco Estrada, and at Super Featherweight, Roman “Rocky” Martinez squares off against the undefeated Diego Magdaleno. Here’s a look at what you can expect from each of these title bouts.
- Site: Venetian Hotel, Macau, China
- Date: April 6, 2013
Brian Viloria vs. Juan Francisco Estrada, WBA/WBO Flyweight Titles
Flyweight kingpin Brian Viloria defends his crown and standing as the world’s top 112-pounder against Juan Francisco Estrada. Viloria, 32-3 (19 KOs) is coming off another huge win, after stopping fellow titlist Hernan Marquez in a November unification bout. The Hawaiian Punch, 32, is a late-bloomer, but in the past couple years has been at his best.
Viloria, a former USA Olympian, has fought in the Philippines 6 times since 2009, so the time zone and continental change should be less daunting to him than Estrada, who has fought all his bouts in Mexico, except for his last fight–a 12-round loss to top 108-pounder Roman Gonzalez in L.A. Estrada, 22, went the distance with the hard-hitting Gonzalez, losing a decision where 2 judges gave him as many as 4 rounds. Having fought his whole career at 112-118, perhaps he was a little sapped making 108. Nevertheless, the 22-2 (18 KOs) youngster has shown he is a capable fighter, despite an otherwise-skimpy resume.
Viloria has settled into a nice rhythm, but he is a fighter where no fight is a foregone conclusion. He seems to romp against excellent opposition, while occasionally coming up short against guys he should have beaten. Added maturity and confidence have perhaps helped that, but Viloria is by no means infallible. His last three wins, however, speak volumes, as he has knocked out a trio of top flyweights in Giovani Segura, Omar Nino Romero, and then Marquez. That’s a nice run of recent success.
Estrada has some clunkers on his resume, but that can be misleading. He took a gargantuan jump in class when facing Gonzalez, who is considered the top 108-pounder in the sport in many circles. While not lighting the world on fire, he acquitted himself fairly well. A fight like that can take a young slugger like Estrada to a new level. One should expect him to be pretty tough.
With his experience in having disappointing performances combined with his current form, one shouldn’t expect anyone to catch Viloria sleeping. He’s learned his lesson. The young and hard-hitting Estrada shouldn’t be written off completely, particularly against a 32-year-old flyweight with a dozen years in the game.
This is not a division where champions have typically aged gracefully. Even so, Viloria looks to be a clear level above Estrada and it would come as a big surprise if he didn’t pull through this challenge. Look for Viloria to take a wide unanimous decision.
Prediction: Brian Viloria wins by unanimous decision.
Roman Martinez vs. Diego Magdaleno, WBO Super Featherweight Title
On the same card as Viloria-Estrada, Roman Martinez defends his WBO 130-pound belt against unbeaten prospect/contender Diego Magdaleno. Martinez, 26-1-2 (16 KOs), is less than 3 months removed from a highly-controversial draw against Juan Carlos Burgos in a fight many felt he lost. Seems like a quick turnaround, facing the dangerous Magdaleno so soon after a draining battle with Burgos where he was extremely lucky to retain his title.
Magdaleno, 23-0 (9 KOs), is in a tough position, traveling to a faraway land against a seasoned foe in his first world title go. Could Team Magdaleno be jumping the gun? While unquestionably a contending and talented fighter, this is a big jump.
He is basically going from record-padding fights to a title chance against a guy who is one of the best in his class. One would have liked to see Magdaleno beat someone in the top 25, which he perhaps hasn’t even done yet. Martinez, meanwhile, has beaten a fair number of decent fighters.
That’s not to imply that Magdaleno, 26, isn’t up to the challenge. His pro resume might be a bit lacking, but he is a well-developed fighter with a good amateur background. He has also shown flashes of great form, albeit against fighters who are a notch or two below Martinez. The Puerto Rican titleholder is not a world-beater, but he is a highly capable, resourceful, and professional veteran fighter who is hard to rattle.
Most people felt that Burgos easily beat Martinez. It was close, however, as Martinez picked up some cheap rounds while Burgos coasted at times. Still, it’s hard to justify a draw and in a perfect world, Martinez should probably be an ex-champ at this point. That doesn’t mean he can’t fight. Not to detract from Magdaleno, but Burgos is probably a more complete and dangerous fighter at this point. If Martinez could at least hang in there against Burgos, he should be in good shape against Magdaleno.
Magdaleno has edges in quickness and talent, whereas Martinez is more experienced at the championship level and consistent. Martinez looks easier to beat than he really is. If you give him an “in,” he will take it. Magdaleno needs to be steadfast and really work in this fight. If he takes rounds off, he’s messing with the wrong guy. He can beat Martinez, but only if he works his butt off for the whole 12 rounds.
I think people are selling Martinez a little short after the Burgos fight. He didn’t deserve to retain his belt, but he is still one of the better 130-pounders in the world. Magdaleno only has 9 knockouts in 23 wins–against a lower caliber of opponent, but with 6 stops in his past 8 fights. Despite a low KO rate, Magdaleno is a punishing opponent. He’s fast and puts a lot of mental pressure on his foes.
I like Magdaleno’s speed, ambition, and work-rate in this fight. Diego is not a power puncher who needs segments of rounds to recharge his batteries. He’s a busy fighter. Two years from now, Magdaleno would be the far safer pick. You just have to wonder about a guy taking such a big jump up in class, in China no less. This is Martinez’ 7th world title fight appearance and he has shown he can travel, defending his title in New York, Las Vegas, and the U.K.
I see Magdaleno getting off to a fast start, with his better speed and crispness getting him a lead on the cards. Then comes the part of the fight where Martinez can maybe out-experience Martinez, who has only been past eight rounds only twice and never past 10 rounds. I see it coming to the wire, with Magdaleno earning a close decision.
Prediction: Diego Magdaleno wins by split decision.