By Dennis Principe
While champion Brian Viloria had the supposed edge fighting in his homecourt, challenger Carlos Tamara was the one on target by employing the most effective fight plan. But more than having an effective strategy, it was Tamara’s determination and excellent conditioning that led the Colombian to a resounding 12th round stoppage of Viloria and crown himself the new International Boxing Federation (IBF) lightflyweight champion Saturday at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City, Philippines.
After a tentative opening round, Viloria started to connect heavy counter rights the next three rounds that bewildered Tamara.
Viloria, who won the IBF belt from Mexican Ulises Solis with an 11th round knockout last April 2009 at the Araneta Colseum, rocked Tamara with a left hook to the body under a minute left in the fourth round.
The 26-year-old Tamara however tried to fight back and connected a few of some wild shots he threw while Viloria continues to have some success with his body attacks.
Viloria, 29, had a strong eight round as he hurt Tamara with a left hook to the jaw. The Waipahu-native however was starting to look worried as his Colombian opponent was getting more aggressive despite being bombarded with telling blows.
“That was our cue to apply our fight plan, when we sensed Viloria was starting to get tired. Though we were behind we never lost hope because we knew Viloria is a strong first half fighter,” said chief trainer Edgar “Butch” Sanchez.
By the 9th round, Tamara turned things around in a huge way by first fighting southpaw then throwing a left uppercut that wobbled Viloria. The change in stance, which Sanchez said they perfected in training, turned out to be the biggest puzzle for Viloria in the fight.
Viloria started to miss his shots and abandoned what was an efficient body attack that enabled Tamara to counter with punishing uppercuts to the head and body the rest of the way.
Viloria was already a spent fighter entering the 12th but tried to fight instinctively by throwing wild shots three times, missing all of them as well as his balance.
Tamara finally went for the kill as he connected a barrage of shots to a now defenseless Viloria, forcing referee Bruce McTavish to intervene and declare a halt of the bout at 1:45 of the 12th canto.
“I knew Viloria was starting to get weak by the 8th round. My corner kept on reminding me about my two children who wanted me to come home a world champion,” said Tamara in a post-fight interview.
Had Viloria finished the fight and went to the scorecards, he would have kept his belt as judges Somsak Sirianant of Thailand and Joe Garcia of Arizona had the Hawaiian fighter ahead, 105-104 and 106-103 respectively. Judge Ray Reed of Australia had it 105-104 for Tamara.
Even if Tamara (21-4, 15 by KO’s) won the last round, Viloria would still keep his belt via a split draw.
Panic later on gripped the dugout as Viloria collapsed minutes after leaving the ring.
A semi-conscious Viloria, whose record falls to 26-3, with 15 knockouts had to be rushed to the Makati Medical Center where he underwent CT scan.
“He was responding to us when we talked with him on our way to the hospital though he was complaining of headache,” said Games and Amusements Board ring pyhsician Dr. Redentor Viernes.
GAB boxing chief Dr. Nasser Cruz later on announced that Viloria was out of danger but had to stay in the hospital overnight as a precaution.