WBO Flyweight Champion Brian Viloria defends his title against Omar Nino Romero on May 12 in Manila. Viloria, an American-Filipino, will enjoy a home edge against a fighter who has previously beaten him. In fact, this is the third meeting between there two lower-weight standouts. In a pair of 2006 junior flyweight title bouts, Romero beat Viloria by decision, and then the two fought to a draw that was later ruled a No-Decision after Romero failed a drug test. Now six years later, these two will settle the score at flyweight.
- Date: May 12, 2012
- Site: Ynares Sports Arena, Metro Manila, Philippines
- Titles: WBO Flyweight Title: 12 Rounds
You have to take your hat off to Viloria, 30-3 (17 KOs), for resurrecting his career after it appeared to be over. After an up-and-down run, he was stopped by the unheralded Carlos Tamara. After a scary post-fight scene, where Viloria was hospitalized, it appeared to be a “wrap.”
He had a good career, won a couple belts, but could never really turn the corner. An ill-timed loss always seemed to spoil his good momentum and the Tamara setback had many writing off the former Olympian.
Viloria, now 31, had a great 2011 against all odds. He first won a unanimous decision over Julio Cesar Miranda for the WBO Flyweight belt. Then in a stirring upset, Viloria TKO’d Giovani Segura, who had moved up after a dominating run at 108 pounds. With longtime Thai champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam dethroned, Viloria has assumed the de facto number-one position at 112 pounds. Now he will return the same arena where he stopped Segura.
Omar Nino Romero, 31-4-2 (13 KOs), is a tough fighter to understand. He’s had his share of controversial moments in and out of the ring. Testing positive for meth after his draw with Viloria didn’t do his reputation any favors and he can be pretty dirty in the ring. But you have to at least grudgingly extend him some respect for the way he has hung in there to even be in this spot at age 35 in a pro career that is 17 years old.
After a controversial technical draw with WBC 108 king Rodel Mayol, Romero schooled him in the rematch. He looked really good. So it was very surprising to see him drop the strap two fights later to Gilberto Keb-Baas–a fighter with 20 losses on his record. He took off 14 months, returning in February with a knockout over a sub-.500 fighter.
And there you have it in a nutshell: A pairing of two talented fighters who are not always consistent. The performances they deliver in the ring can have wide ranges. Viloria is certainly flying higher than Romero at the moment. But that only means so much, considering that the Hawaiian never really follows through after arriving at the fringe of something big.
He rode an undefeated record and a world title into his first fight with Romero, only to fall short. Then after a great performance against Ulises Solis, he fell short against Tamara–a fighter who has only won once since beating Viloria 2 1/2 years ago.
Romero’s resume is even more puzzling. He has a lot of gems on his record, namely early-career wins over Jorge Arce and Edgar Sosa, the win over Viloria, and the Mayol win. But like Viloria, ill-timed losses have prevented him from accomplishing something really big. The Keb-Baas loss was a bad hit, as were previous setbacks to Juanito Rubillar, and Juan Rosas. Then again, losing a mere 3 fights in the past 14 years is nothing to be ashamed of.
Viloria is probably the more athletic of the two, with Romero being the trickier and more cerebral fighter. Six years is an eternity, especially for flyweights, but the things that gave Viloria a tough time in their other two fights figure to still be in place. Their second fight, scored a draw, really appeared to go Romero’s way, but let’s throw out that result due to the positive test. That first fight still doesn’t bode well for Viloria’s chances, as Romero won rather easily.
Viloria vs. Romero Prediction
At his best, Romero is a smart, quick-fisted, and cunning fighter with admirable powers of recuperation. He has a good sense of the fight and always fights harder when his opponent tries to wrangle the edge from him. And his career illustrates he can still produce vintage performances after long layoffs and when the odds are against him.
I just think Viloria has some things going for him this time around that might land him an advantage. He’s bent on revenge, fighting in front of a supportive crowd in the very arena where he scored his best win, and he’s more battle-tempered than Romero at the moment. I see Viloria having to fight very hard to dissuade Romero, but after 10 rounds of relatively even action, I see Brian pulling away late to earn a very tough decision.
Prediction: Brian Viloria wins by unanimous decision.