Joe Hester talks to an impressive up-and-comer who just fought on the undercard of Spence Jr. Crawford and it has just been announced will appear on the Canelo Charlo bill

The compelling Terrence Crawford performance recently, beating Errol Spence Jr. so comprehensively, was one for the history books. On the undercard a young southpaw fighter caught my eye; carving his own early stages of history, super featherweight Justin Viloria has stopped all three of his opponents so far.

At nineteen years old, Justin looked remarkably calm inside the ring for a  three fight ‘novice’. But Justin’s anything but a novice. In fact, he’s got a tight-knit family unit of extensive experience which are all playing a role behind the scenes. But Justin himself is wise beyond his years.

Born and raised in Whittier, California, Justin currently trains at home with his father, Dominic and his brother. It all began at ages five to six when Justin’s dad taught him how to box. He was also involved in wrestling at this time, although it wasn’t until the age of eight Justin started to box full-time and take things more seriously.

His father and brother aren’t the only mentors in Justin’s life, his uncle Brian Viloria is the former unified WBA and WBO World Flyweight champion. It is clear how much his family means to him. “My dad and my uncle have been great examples and mentors coming up in boxing. They’ve taught me a lot and helped me prepare for what to expect at the highest level of fighting,”

A successful amateur, winning a national title, Justin earned himself a spot on the elite Team USA, working with the highest calibre of fighters in the country. He described his experience as an amateur as “fun”, and was even stopping opponents in dominating fashion.

The Olympic Games was a possible route and one I don’t doubt for a second that Justin would have thrived at, but he came to the decision to turn professional in the pursuit of his dream to become a world champion.

“My goals have always been in the professional world, I don’t think being an Olympian or even getting a medal holds the same value in boxing as it used to unfortunately, so I decided to just start getting that pro experience and settling in a lot sooner.” 

It’s fair to say, turning professional has been going to plan so far. Not many fighters can say they’ve fought on the undercard of an undisputed bout in their third fight and are lined up to box under Canelo.

I was intrigued to ask Justin about his experience on such a big show recently and it’s definitely given him the motivation to continue to perform on the biggest stages possible in the future. “It was really a blessing and such a surreal experience.”

Justin looked relaxed stopping unbeaten Pedro Penunuri Borgaro two weeks ago and he eagerly confirmed it: “I felt comfortable and excited to just do what I love on such a big stage. I’m very excited to be back there again.” When he is back there again, you can be sure to see that killer instinct inside the ropes, a rarity with fighters at such an early stage of their career.

Taking this big moment in his stride, this is the start of a long journey and fans can be assured this will be an entertaining career, potentially through numerous weight categories. At five feet nine, Justin has a significant height and reach advantage over the majority of super featherweights and at such a young age he’ll definitely be putting on more muscle mass as he gets older.

I asked Justin on the basis of a perfect three stoppage wins out of three, have you always had that intent to stop all your opponents? “Absolutely, once I step in that ring it’s kill or be killed. My Dad taught me a pro-style and how to break down opponents since I was just a kid, so developing since then gave me the advantage of having these skills at such a young age.”

Exploring Justin’s mind, and even his soul perhaps, he is guided by his faith and strong relationship to God. “It’s everything to me, I am nothing without him! He has given me everything I need and so much more to be where I am today. I believe he has called me to boxing and to fight for his glory.” Justin won in great fashion with “Matthew 22:14” across his shorts.

In a perfect closing statement, I asked Justin to give a message to the boxing world now that Justin Viloria is in the game:

“Stay tuned and keep your eyes on me! I’m going to bring plenty of excitement and action to the boxing game for sure. I’ll be taking over whatever division I step in.” It will be fun to read this back in five to ten years when you’re at the top, Justin.


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