By Jake Donovan
Matthew Villanueva knew well in advance of his win over Julian Rivera that a tough night was in store for his Telemundo headliner in Mexico City. The bout marked a series of firsts for the 26-year old, beginning with his debut under the All Star Boxing banner.
The Florida-based promotional outfit is the primary source for boxing action on Telemundo, offering 12 cards per calendar year equally split between Mexico City and central Florida. Villanueva’s first fight for the company and the network came against a series regular, as Rivera has resurrected his career on the circuit.
While the threat of an upset never surfaced, Villanueva was given a stiff challenge against the former title challenger. The California-based super flyweight prospect prevailed in the end by scores of 98-92 (twice) and 96-94 to advance to 10-0-1 (8KO), but was forced to work every step of the way.
“He was resilient. He was tough like I thought he would be. I had to be smart,” Villanueva acknowledged of a fight that marked his first trip beyond the eighth round.
The ten-round affair is the first step towards what his new handlers believe will be a straight shot to the title. No backwards steps are intended for the body-punching specialist, who can expect to see a lot more TV time in the immediate future.
“Our goal is to get him a couple of more wins and then move towards a title shot,” promoter Felix ‘Tuto’ Zabala said following the televised victory. “We have big plans for Matthew.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox