One week after winning his first professional title (WBO Youth) in his hometown of Salinas, Calif., prized featherweight prospect Ruben Villa paid a visit to the Monterey County Youth Center where he spoke to at risk adolescents.
"There were a lot of young kids, kids that are still in high school that never really got the guidance that you would want them to have," said Villa, who sports an undefeated record of 11-0, 4 KOs. "My message was simple. You can still better your life, but you have to find the motivation that's going to make you want to change."
Villa, 21, was fortunate to have found the sweet science at an early age. He started boxing the same year he entered kindergarten. Many youth in Monterey County and the greater Salinas area get involved with gangs at a young age and enter a path of criminal behavior that almost always ends in incarceration.
"I just tried telling them my story how boxing kept me focus and out of trouble," Villa said. "At the end of the day, you need to do right by your community. I think these kids want to change and make their family proud, but they need reinforcement and help."
Although young himself, Villa has developed a reputation for caring deeply for the area he grew up in. The southpaw is always looking for ways to help.
"It's just one of the qualities that I saw in Ruben when I signed him," said manager Danny Zamora. "He is very humble and makes me very proud that he is such a positive role model to the community of Salinas. I am glad that he is giving back to the kids that need it the most."
The Monterey County Youth Center is a residential facility and aftercare program offering educational and rehabilitation opportunities for juvenile court wards.
After an impressive third round win over world title challenger Daulis Prescott, Puerto Rican prospect Subriel Matias (9-0, 9 KO’s) from the Maternillo neighborhood of Fajardo has a big test in his young career when he faces the Mexican puncher Adrian "Diamante" Estrella (28-1, 24 KO’s) on Saturday, May 19 at the Pedro "Perucho" Cepeda ballpark in Cataño, Puerto Rico.
The Matías v. Estrella bout is scheduled for 10 rounds in the junior welterweight division (140 pounds).
"Subriel is the most developed prospect in Puerto Rico. They told us we were crazy when we put him up against Jeffrey Fontánez, but Subriel knocked him out in two rounds. In each fight, we raise the quality of the opponents and he continues to dispatch them easily. His fighting style confuses his opponents with his various rhythms and power in his punches. I understand that on May 19, he will show that he is at a great level", said promoter Juan Orengo of Fresh Productions, who also promotes the career of the highly-ranked boxer Emmanuel "Manny" Rodríguez, who will fight on May 5th in London for the IBF bantamweight world title against local and former champion, Paul Butler.
"I like challenges," said Matías, "I want fans to know that my fights are to help me in my development and keep moving forward to the big fights. When that moment arrives to be in the big stages, I will be ready. It's not worth having easy fights that don't help my development and even deceive the fans who, with so much sacrifice, they pay for their tickets. My respects for Adrian Estrella for accepting the fight. He is a Mexican warrior who comes to give everything and I come with that same mentality. "
With only nine fights in his professional history, Matías has strong victories over the world title challenger Daulis Prescott of Colombia, former Venezuelan Olympian Patrick López, the rising prospect Fontánez of Puerto Rico, and the strong Brazilian puncher Joaquim Carneiro.
Estrella, on the other hand, has victories over former world champions Celestino Caballero, DeMarcus Corley and over world title contenders Balweg Bangoyan and Dante Jardón.
In another of the stellar matches of the card, Abimael "Manos de Piedra" Ortiz (5-0-1, 3 KO's) of Cidra, will face former London 2012 olympian Jantony Ortiz (8-0, 4 KO's) of Humacao, in a duel scheduled for eight rounds at 122 pounds.
In his last performance in February, Abimael Ortiz defeated local fan favorite Josean "El Tren" Figueroa (Miguel Cotto Promotions), who fell by technical knockout in the eighth round.
On the other side, Jantony Ortiz defeated Dominican Lucián González by unanimous decision in his last fight in March.
The combined record of the fighters of these confirmed stellar fights is 51-1-1 with 40 knockouts.
Information about the remaining fights and the tickets sales will be available soon.
Unbeaten boxer Zuhayr Al-Qahtani is sure he can become the first Saudi Arabian to win a world title and is already on the way to becoming the poster boy for sport in the Middle East.
The London-based welterweight (4-0), who makes his MTK Global debut in Brentwood on Saturday, built an impressive amateur record of 50-4 before turning professional at 27 and wants a title shot by the end of 2018.
Perhaps the most famous moment in Saudi Arabian sport to date was Saeed Al-Owairan's incredible solo goal against Belgium at the 1994 World Cup - and Zuhayr is confident his boxing exploits can further inspire Middle Eastern sport to unprecedented levels of success and exposure.
Zuhayr said: "People in Saudi Arabia still talk about that Al-Owairan goal. Every so often, a champion comes along and does something special. Now, that's me. The difference is I'm going to be around and dominate for a long time.
"I'm here to make history. There's yet to be a Saudi Arabian world champion so I'm going to be the first. Winning a world title is the ultimate goal for me and it's one I will achieve.
"Back in Saudi Arabia, it's a tribal culture. I'm from an eminent tribe and for them to have one of their own climbing the ranks in sport is a huge deal.
"I'm going to be the face of sport in Saudi Arabia and in places like Dubai. There's so much potential there."
Zuhayr began boxing in London at the age of 12 and went on to clinch the Novices Under-20s title and the London ABAs. Having spent the majority of his life there, 'Triple Z' insists he'll never be short on support in the English capital.
Zuhayr added:"Now I've got the right backing from MTK Global, I could sell out The O2 arena already because of my huge family.
"I've boxed for several clubs in London - but mainly I competed for David Haye's old club; Fitzroy Lodge. I got robbed against some Team GB kid as an amateur but hardly ever lost.
"Now I'm professional, I want to fight for the British title at the end of this year. If I fight for a Southern Area title before then, I'd win it and vacate it on the same day. I just want to fight as much as possible."
MTK Global is delighted to confirm the signing of 17-year-old boxing sensation Enmanuel Guerra Castillo.
The Miami-based Cuban is set to make his debut in the UK this summer having sparred professional boxers since the age of 15 and is in no doubt he’s heading for the pinnacle of the sport.
Guerra said: “I’m very excited to be working with MTK Global and the future is bright. We chose MTK Global because it’s one of the fastest-growing companies in boxing.
“I’ve been fighting professional fighters since I started boxing. I would hurt amateurs too easily and I had to move on to professional fighters once I developed skill-wise. My punching power is a weapon that helped me win the State Championships twice.
“I’m going to be one of the faces of the sport. I want to get to 10-0 or 12-0 in a year and after that, gradually step up my level of competition. I see myself ready for the top 10 inside two years.”
Guerra, who is mentored by world-renowned trainer Jorge Rubio, was sparring the likes of highly-ranked super-lightweight Courtney Jackson (18-1-KO10) when he was just 15 and MTK Global International Operations Director Paul Gibson is highly enthusiastic over his future.
Gibson said: “This kid has unbelievable potential. Jorge Rubio is a trainer I have the utmost respect for and he absolutely raves about Enmanuel.
“He’s only 17 but you can already see he has something special. It is a given that he is going to be a star in his home country so we are looking to bring him over and build his profile this side of the Atlantic first. Similar to what Top Rank are doing with Mick Conlan.
“You won’t want to miss the chance to see Enmanuel fight live. When he’s topping Las Vegas bills in four or five years it will be nice to be able to say you were there when he was just a teen doing four-rounders.”