Boxing

Brian Viloria vs. Jose Alfredo Zuniga: Preview and Prediction for Flyweight Bout

Kevin McRaeFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2014

Brian Viloria vs. Jose Alfredo Zuniga: Preview and Prediction for Flyweight Bout

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Brian “The Hawaiian Punch” Viloria returns to action on Saturday at the Cotai Arena in Macau, taking on the deceptively dangerous Jose Alfredo Zuniga in a 10-round contest in the flyweight division.

    Viloria is likely embarking on the final leg of a solid professional career that has seen multiple title reigns in the junior flyweight and flyweight divisions. He last held a world championship in 2013, dropping the WBA and WBO 112-pound titles to Juan Francisco Estrada, and is looking for one more shot at gold.

    Zuniga has a deceptive record, and he’s capable of being much more dangerous than would be apparent after a cursory look at his ledger. This isn’t the first time he’s played the role of spoiler, and he’s young enough to make some noise himself with a win.

    This is a much more intriguing fight than it may seem like on paper.

    Read on for your complete preview and prediction for Viloria vs. Zuniga.

Tale of the Tape

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    All stats and information per BoxRec.com.

     Brian ViloriaJose Alfredo Zuniga
    Record33-4, 19 KO11-5-1, 5 KO
    Age3325
    Height54”Unlisted
    Weight113 (last fight)108 (last fight)
    Reach66Unlisted
    StanceOrthodoxOrthodox
    HometownWaipahu, HawaiiMatamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico
    Rounds301116
    Last FightUD 10 Juan Herrera (3/29/14)L MD 12 Alberto Rossel (9/28/13)

Main Storylines

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Viloria is a former Olympian, having represented the United States at the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney. The Filipino-American failed to medal at the Games, but he remains a successful professional fighter, something that can’t be said for other members—Jermain Taylor, Jeff Lacy, Rocky Juarez—of the team.

    A four-time world champion between junior flyweight and flyweight, Viloria lost his unified championship last year in an upset against Estrada. He has since rebounded with an easy unanimous-decision win over the unknown Juan Herrera in March.

    Viloria is at the stage of his career where the next loss could wind up being the last one. He’d like one more shot at a world title, and that process continues on Saturday against another unheralded, but dangerous foe.

    Zuniga is one of those fighters with a record that screams journeyman but who could wind up being better than the sum of his parts. He’s still only 25 years old, and in the lower-weight classes, he’s still more than capable of making some noise.

    A win over a high-profile name such as Viloria would certainly catapult him up the ranks.

    Zuniga has wins over a couple of pretty good lower-weight contenders in Ganigan Lopez and Luis Ceja, and his last fight—a defeat against current WBA interim light flyweight champion Alberto Rossel—was extremely close and competitive.

Strengths

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    Viloria is a well-seasoned fighter who has been in the ring with some of the very best that the lower-weight classes have to offer. That level of experience should serve him very well in a fight like this one.

    The Hawaiian Punch has good hand speed, solid boxing technique and intangibles, and he’s likely fighting for one more shot at glory. That’s a very powerful motivator, as is the possibility that he could be matched up with China’s two-time Olympic gold medalist, Zou Shiming—who is fighting on the same card—in the near future.

    Viloria would welcome the opportunity—it would be a superfight in China—but he’ll need to use his advantages in speed, experience and defense to carry the day.

    Zuniga started fighting in 2009, knocking off contender Lopez in his very first fight as a professional. He’s tough and durable, and he fights with a tricky style that makes him dangerous for every second of a fight.

    Against Rossel—The Ring Magazine’s No. 8-rated junior flyweight—Zuniga was most effective with his jab and hard shots to the body.

    Like many Mexican fighters, Zuniga attacks the body with ferocity, and that, should he land with consistency, could give him a chance in this fight.

Weaknesses

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    Viloria has certainly been through the ringer during his boxing career. He lost a scary fight to Carlos Tamara in 2010—collapsing after the bout and being rushed to the hospital—but rebounded well, taking on the best challenges available and re-establishing himself as a top dog by defeating the likes of Giovani Segura, Omar Nino Romero and Hernan Marquez.

    He claims to still have something left in the tank, but that remains an open question.

    Viloria has never been the most accurate of punchers, and he’s sometimes allowed his work rate to slip, giving opponents opportunities to out-land him. Against a younger, presumably fresher opponent, this is something he cannot afford.

    Zuniga showed against Rossel that his tricky, awkward style of attack is both a blessing and a curse. It has the potential to frustrate and confound certain opponents, but against the better fighters in the world, it leaves too many openings.

    Against Rossel, Zuniga looked much better in the early rounds than he did in the later stages of the fight.

    Zuniga tends to lunge in with his shots, leaving himself open to getting caught with counters. That could prove to be a serious problem against a seasoned professional such as Viloria. If the Hawaiian Punch is able to get his timing down, it could be an early night. The Mexican has been stopped in three of his five defeats.

Brian Viloria Will Win If...

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    Pat Roque/Associated Press

    Viloria will win this fight as long as he—as he claims—still has something left in the tank. His career has had its share of ebbs and flows, and he’s facing an opponent who might be better than advertised.

    This could be more difficult than anticipated, but there’s nothing here that says the Hawaiian shouldnt have enough to win.

    The key to the fight is maintaining a consistent work rate and not allowing Zuniga to steal rounds with activity. That has been a problem for the Filipino-American in the past, and it’s something he will desperately want to avoid here.

    Viloria has been prone to letdowns in the past—most notably against Romero and Tamara—but he can’t afford any sort of inconsistency here. This is definitely the last stage of a very good career, and there are still big fights out there for him if he wins.

    Zuniga is awkward, but if Rossel is able to time his attack, Viloria should be able to do the same. And that should be game over.

Jose Alfredo Zuniga Will Win If...

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    Zuniga has beaten a few quality fighters in his relatively short career, but nobody on the level of Viloria. He should be able to give a decent enough accounting of himself, but winning the fight is going to take a combination of things.

    He’s going to need to simply outwork Viloria, throwing punches in bunches in every round and hoping that his foe doesn’t choose to match his effort. That’s not outside the realm of feasibility, but given the stakes, it remains a long shot, even if his opponent is probably past his best.

    Viloria has fought down to opposition in the past, and that could be dangerous here given Zuniga’s active, awkward style, which features a heavy investment in body work.

    If some of these factors come together—in particular Viloria not being the same fighter and ceding the initiative—an upset could be possible.

And the Winner Will Be...

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    Pat Roque/Associated Press

    Viloria is the more-skilled fighter, and he’s highly motivated to make one last splash before calling it a career. He has a new son, born to him and his wife earlier this year, which gives him an added reason for wanting a couple more high-profile paydays.

    Zuniga is the type of fighter who is difficult and tricky in the early rounds. Against Rossel—no slouch but a few notches below the best—he did well with his jab and body work before getting figured out and beaten back a bit over the second half of the fight.

    Expect the early rounds to be close and competitive, but once Viloria finds his range and begins to get Zuniga’s timing, it will end relatively quickly.

    This is a cream-rising-to-the-top type of fight, and while Zuniga will be surprisingly competitive, he’s just outmatched.

    Viloria wins by a mid-round TKO.

    Prediction: Viloria TKO 6 Zuniga

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