Brian Viloria to square off against Artem Dalakian for vacant flyweight belt on Feb. 24

Boxing


After former two-division world titleholder Brian Viloria got beaten down in a one-sided ninth-round knockout loss to then-flyweight champion Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez in October 2015, he took time off to contemplate his ring future.

In March, 17 months after that loss, Viloria returned with the goal to get one more world title shot before hanging up his gloves for good. He won two fights in 2017 and he now has that title shot in front of him.

Viloria has won four world title belts — two at junior flyweight and two at flyweight — and will shoot for No. 5 when he squares off against Artem Dalakian for a vacant flyweight belt on Feb. 24 at The Forum in Inglewood, California, not far from where Hawaii native Viloria lives in Los Angeles.

“I’ve worked very hard to earn this shot for a fifth world title and I’m not going to let it slip away,” Viloria, who is the last man standing from the 2000 U.S. Olympic team, said when the fight was announced on Friday. “I won my first world title in Los Angeles [in 2005] and I couldn’t be more excited to be back home to fight for the WBA flyweight world championship in front of my friends, family and supportive fans. I’ve been working in the gym for more than a month in the hope that this fight would materialize.

“I’m eager to prove once again that I’m the premier flyweight in the world and you can count on seeing the best Brian Viloria ever. I’ve always given the fans an honest account in the ring and they won’t be disappointed on Feb. 24.”

Viloria (38-5, 23 KOs), 37, and Dalakian (15-0, 11 KOs), 30, of Ukraine, will be fighting for the 112-pound world title recently vacated by Japan’s Kazuto Ioka, who announced his retirement a few weeks later.

“Brian is attempting to become a world champion for a fifth time and has long been one of Southern California’s most popular fighters, while Dalakian is undefeated and hungry for his first world title,” said Tom Loeffler, whose newly created 360 Promotions is putting on the card.”

Dalakian, who will be fighting outside of Ukraine for the first time, will also be facing the first notable opponent of his career but is confident of victory.

“Brian Viloria is a good boxer and was a champion, but his time is up. I’m going to the United States to become a world champion and to prove to everyone that I’m the best,” he said.

The fight will be part of the “Superfly 2” card, though it won’t be televised in the United States as part of the HBO broadcast (9:30 p.m. ET/PT).

In the main event of “Superfly 2” — super flyweight is the alternate name for the junior bantamweight division — junior bantamweight world titleholder Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (43-4-1, 39 KOs), a 31-year-old southpaw from Thailand, will make his mandatory defense against Mexico’s Juan Francisco Estrada (36-2, 25 KOs), 27, a former unified flyweight titleholder.

On the September “Superfly” card, Sor Rungvisai knocked out former four-division champion and former pound-for-pound king Gonzalez in the fourth round of their rematch for an upset in the main event. In the opening bout of that tripleheader, Estrada outpointed former titlist Carlos Cuadras in a title eliminator to earn the shot at Sor Rungvisai.

In another junior bantamweight bout on the Feb. 24 card, Cuadras (36-2-1, 27 KOs), 29, of Mexico, and former two-time title challenger McWilliams Arroyo (16-3, 14 KOs), 32, of Puerto Rico, will square off in a scheduled 10-rounder. HBO plans to add a third junior bantamweight bout to the telecast.



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