‘The Hawaiian Punch’ adds a Kaua‘i twist

LIHU‘E — A piece of Kaua‘i will be in the ring with Brian Viloria when he battles for the World Boxing Organization Flyweight World Championship, July 16 at the Neal Blaisdell Center on O‘ahu.

That piece will be the spirit of his new bride, Erika Navarro of Puhi, a graduate of Kaua‘i High School, whom he married in December. It also includes the interest and spirit of Erika’s ‘ohana on Kaua‘i.

“I’m ready,” Viloria, the Waipahu-born boxer, said Sunday. “I’ve been training for this a long time, and this is the first fight I’m doing since our wedding.”

But he admits the fight against Julio Ceasar Miranda of Mexico won’t be an easy one.

“He’s a very tough fighter,” said Viloria, nicknamed “The Hawaiian Punch.”

He was wrapping up his weekend on Kaua‘i before heading back to Honolulu for more training before returning to his home in Los Angeles, Calif. “I’ve been working on being more assertive and being more confident. He’s really tough so I’ve been training really hard and not getting distracted.”

Viloria said the last fight he had before a hometown crowd was in 2009 at the Island Assault 1 where he defended his Light Flyweight title against Jesus Iribe.

The title defense went to a 12-round unanimous decision Viloria won.

The opportunity to meet Miranda came Nov. 9 in the Philippines when Viloria went up against a Thai boxer, Liempetch Sor Veerapol, taking the match in the seventh round with a body shot.

Miranda came the route of the home crowd, all of his major bouts taking place in Mexico.

He claimed the WBO Flyweight spot on a Technical Knock Out of Rickie Mepranum in June 2010.

“This time, the fight card is billed as ‘Island Assault 2,’ and this is a great opportunity for me to fight before a hometown crowd,” Viloria said. “This is special because it is for a title and I want to do good for my family and all of the fans.”

Viloria said he and Erika moved to Los Angeles to be in the limelight of boxing.

“Boxing is part sport, but it’s also part business,” he said. “Part of advancing in the sport in addition to regional titles is being recognized in the sport and L.A. is the Entertainment Capital.”

The July 16 fight card is for a Philippines-based television audience, Viloria said.

“I’m not sure if it will be televised locally, but there are fighters on the undercard which appeal to the Philippines audience,” he said. “But there are a couple of local fighters as well, including a local female fight.”

He said he’s been blessed in the sport of boxing.

“There are other people I owe a lot to,” Viloria said. “It’s like Team Viloria.”

At the head of Team Viloria is his new bride, Erika, who said while there are the trainers and his team to help, she contributes by keeping track of his training aspects which need attention.

Viloria, who recently stopped to visit with the aspiring Kaua‘i Police Activities League boxers, said he likes to work with the young people during his trips home.

“We need to be transparent, especially to the young people,” he said. “I was them at one time and I saw a lot of guys come through the gyms. It was Jesus Salud who motivated me, and I want to give back in the same way.”

Tickets for the July 16 Island Assault 2 went on sale Saturday at the Blaisdell Box Office.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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