Two little guys, who could step on a scale together and weigh nearly 25 pounds less than Wladimir Klitschko, are getting some heavyweight attention for a bid to win a couple of pieces of the flyweight title. The unification label has been attached to the Brian Viloria-Tyson Marquez bout Saturday at the Los Angeles Sports Arena (WealthTV & wealthtv.com at 9pm est)
In a fractured business full of more acronyms than the federal government, however, unification and boxing are an odd couple. A little bit like jumbo shrimp. From I to W with a B in between, titles are as irrelevant they’ve ever been. But there is something significant about Viloria-Marquez. It’s about a legend and tying it to a fight that could revive the fortunes of the best among the little big men. If there is link between yesterday and today, it’s a piece of unity worth fighting for.
For nearly two decades, Michael Carbajal-Humberto Gonzalez has been the standard for what the smallest divisions have hoped to become, yet never have. In the first of their three fights at junior-flyweight, Carbajal and Gonzalez put the Lord into the Flies in March 1993 at the Las Vegas Hilton. Carbajal, down twice and seemingly finished in the fifth round, stormed back in the seventh with a paralyzing uppercut followed by a left that dropped Gonzalez onto his back like a piece of discarded plywood.
It was a fight that led to million-dollar purses for Carbajal and Gonzalez. Then, it seemed to herald a rich new age for fighters who campaigned at weights between 106 and 112 pounds. But it didn’t happen. Carbajal and Gonzalez couldn’t pull off an encore in two rematches, both won in 1994 by Gonzalez in decisions as narrow as they were forgettable.
In subsequent years, there was never anything that could quite live up to that one dynamic fight. Many of today’s greats started at the low end of the weight and pay scale. There’s Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire and Jorge Arce. Arce is a constant reminder of just how good Carbajal was. In 1999 and years past his prime, a bloodied and seemingly-beaten Carbajal knocked out a young Arce with a lightning bolt of a right hand in a stunning 11th-round in Tijuana.
But Pacquiao, Donaire and Arce have moved up and on in pursuit of bigger checks. They won’t be remembered as flyweights. But Viloria and perhaps Marquez will be. That gives them a chance at a re-enactment of the 1993 classic, which has stood alone for so long the memory of it has begun to fade. It’s good history only if there’s a reason to remember it. Maybe, Viloria-Marquez on Wealth TV is that reason to hope history repeats itself.
Viloria, a 2000 Olympian, began his career more than a decade. For a while, he and Arce appeared to be moving toward a bout that Bob Arum thought might be a Carbajal-Gonzalez encore. But Viloria’s career got sidetracked by inconsistency so troublesome that it might be a problem against Marquez.
Meanwhile, Marquez is powerful and not as inexperienced as some might argue. His resume includes a loss to Donaire, a pound-for-pound contender. In a close bout and potential Fight of the Year, the decisive factor might be age. At 24, Marquez is seven year younger than Viloria. Flyweights have a shorter lifespan than fighter in the heavier divisions. At 31, Viloria looks to be a lot closer to the end than he is to his prime. But he’s won five straight fights, including an impressive stoppage of Giovani Sequra, whose looks and style remind some of Carbajal. Maybe, Viloria is a late bloomer.
Carbajal, now 45 and living in Phoenix, doesn’t know who to pick. He’s watched Viloria throughout his erratic career. He knows about Marquez, yet hasn’t had a chance to see him often enough to really judge him.
“But they’ve both got power,’’ Carbajal said. “I’m not sure about Viloria’s age. That could be trouble. We’ll see. But whoever takes a shot better, will win.’’
Sounds like it could be classic. That’s exactly what determined the 1993 fight. Carbajal absorbed and endured Gonzalez’ power. Then, he delivered some of his own in an epic still searching for an encore.