MACAU – The young Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada claimed the WBO and WBA flyweight world titles in Macau on Saturday, with a split points decision victory over reigning champion Brian Viloria.
Estrada, at 22, a decade younger than his Filipino-American opponent, was in front on two of the judges’ scorecards to claim a fully deserved win over the scheduled 12 rounds.
He improves his overall record to 23 victories against two defeats.
"Now, the cameras will turn on me. Before this fight, I considered myself a nobody in boxing," Estrada said afterwards, promising to give his beaten opponent -- whose face was badly cut -- a rematch, possibly in Macau.
"Now I am starting my career and I feel very happy about it."
Viloria, who came into the fight with 32 wins and only three defeats behind him, got the better of the earlier rounds.
He sent a clubbing left hand over the top midway through the first, rocking his younger opponent as he set out with the greater intent.
The crowd at the Venetian resort-hotel's CotaiArena was behind Viloria, who also dominated in the second round, forcing Estrada into the corner at one point with a flurry of rapid punches.
An arrowing fist to Estrada's stomach left him wincing at the outset of the third as Viloria, cheered on by a large contingent of supporters from the Philippines, ground his opponent down.
Viloria, sporting green and gold trunks, rattled Estrada again with 40 seconds to go in the fifth with a straight right to the Mexican's face, and he pulled off the same right over the top at the start of the sixth.
They went toe-to-toe midway through the sixth, but Viloria was packing more into his punches, igniting cries of "Viloria! Viloria! Viloria!" from the crowd at the 15,000-seater venue.
There was nothing in the seventh, but Estrada, wearing red, white and green shorts, finally turned the tide in the eighth.
He had the better of the round, and the pair exchanged quickfire punches beyond the bell.
As the fight went on, Viloria began to tire, with both men bleeding.
Viloria was given a stern ticking off from the referee in the 10th for a low blow, perhaps a sign he knew he had lost impetus, and the older man was firmly on the back foot at the end of that round.
It was more of the same in the 12th and final round, as both boxers went in search of a big finish, Viloria getting pinned into his own corner as he desperately tried to cling on to his belts. But it wasn't to be.*AFP
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