It isn’t in Ismael Villarreal’s nature to talk smack.

Even within a boxing world where bombastic behavior sells, the unbeaten Bronx native would prefer to let his hands do his talking for him. Villarreal, the son of a former boxer, has instead exuded a quiet confidence as an amateur and professional.

“A lot of guys now are loudmouths,” Villarreal told “And it’s like, you know, they get the exposure they need, of course. But then it’s like once they step up, it’s a problem.”

Stepping up was no problem whatsoever for Villarreal in his last fight. The unbeaten junior middleweight prospect knocked out another undefeated fighter, LeShawn Rodriguez, in the sixth round of their eight-rounder on the Danny Garcia-Jose Benavidez Jr. undercard July 30 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Rodriguez (13-1, 10 KOs), of Port Jefferson, New York, entered the ring as a 6-1 favorite. Villarreal (12-0, 8 KOs) dropped Rodriguez twice, once apiece in the second and sixth rounds, before their fight was stopped by referee Johnny Callas.

“It was an amazing win for me because, you know, I was coming in as the underdog,” Villarreal told “I knew I was gonna be the underdog, but I didn’t think it was gonna be by such a large margin. It wasn’t even close, the betting odds. I was like, ‘Wow! People really don’t think I have a chance.’ It felt good, you know, being able to prove the critics wrong and the people wrong, that I’m a guy that you should look out for – that I can box and I can bang. But that fight opened the doors for more opportunities, such as this one, a main event. It’s a pretty cool feeling.”

The 25-year-old Villarreal is a slight favorite over Ardreal Holmes (12-0, 5 KOs), his opponent Friday night in a “ShoBox: The New Generation” main event at Stormont Vail Event Center in Topeka, Kansas.

The 28-year-old Holmes, a 6-foot-2 southpaw from Flint, Michigan, will end an 11-month layoff. He hasn’t boxed since his 10-round, unanimous-decision victory versus Chicago’s Vernon Brown (13-2-1, 9 KOs) last March 11 at Deadwood Mountain Grand Hotel in Deadwood, South Dakota.

Villarreal commended Holmes for taking on another unbeaten boxer who upset an undefeated fighter by knockout in his last outing. He also respects what he saw from Holmes in highlights of his most recent victory, but Villarreal emphasized that he is a better opponent than Brown.

“Holmes was able to dominate and keep him at a distance,” Villarreal said, “but also fight in the pocket with him, which is a good thing. If that were me, it might be a different story. I don’t think fighting in the pocket with me is a good idea. Look at it this way – I’m much younger than his previous opponent. I’m much stronger and faster.”

Holmes-Villarreal will headline a three-bout broadcast that’ll start at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime.

Featherweight prospects Misael Lopez (14-1, 5 KOs, 1 NC), a native Mexican who resides in Denver, and Edward Vazquez (13-1, 3 KOs, 1 NC), of Fort Worth, Texas, are set to meet in the 10-round co-feature. Junior welterweights will fight first Friday night, when Kurt Scoby (10-0, 8 KOs), of Duarte, California, and Australia’s John Mannu (7-0-1, 4 KOs) box in an eight-rounder.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.