By Gilbert Manzano
CORONA, Calif. — Ruben Villa IV told the Showtime cameras during a recent “Day in Camp” interview that he prefers boring fights that keep his face clean, but that doesn’t mean he’s afraid to mix it up.
Villa, a skilled featherweight prospect, turned into a brawler Friday night for his scheduled 10-round bout against Luis Alberto Lopez in the main event of a ShoBox tripleheader at Omega Products Events Center.
Villa traded his crisp jab for lunging one-two combinations en route to a unanimous decision (98-92, 97-93, 96-94) victory that had the crowd standing in the final minute. Villa, who’s not known for power, rocked Lopez with an overhand right in the final round. This marked the first time Villa went 10 rounds.
The 22-year-old Villa entered the ring with a clean face, but left with a red face covered with bumps and bruises.
“I’m a clean fighter, I don’t get hit a lot, and today I just got hit too much to the point where I didn’t really want to look like that,” Villa said. “Like I said, it’s a learning experience and whatever tests that are coming next this is just going to teach me more.”
This was Villa’s second fight and first main event on ShoBox. The Northern California fighter known as “RV4” made his debut on the long-running prospect series in January when he recorded a unanimous decision against Ruben Cervera with shutout scores of 80-72.
For this training camp, Villa and his head trainer Max Garcia went south to Robert Garcia’s gym in Riverside, California, where Villa sparred with top prospects for about two weeks.
“There's a lot of guys for sparring over here, so we pretty much just mix it up with everyone, different kinds of styles,” Villa said before the fight about training at Robert Garcia’s gym. “It always helps me for my fights having to adjust to whatever the guy brings, so we're getting in with a lot of different types of styles.”
Villa does most of his training at his personal gym in his hometown of Salinas, California.
“The gym where I train doesn't really have a name,” Villa said in an earlier interview. “It's more like a private gym in Salinas. My dad opened it for me. Whenever we fight, though, we'll go down to Riverside to Robert Garcia's gym just to get a different type of sparring. We kind of mix it up a little bit to get different styles.”
Villa is known as one of the top prospects in the 126-pound division. He’s now a perfect 16-0 since turning pro three years ago.
Villa, a natural righty who fights southpaw, was an alternate for the U.S. Olympic team in 2016. He holds amateur wins over Devin Haney, Shakur Stevenson and Gary Antonio Russell.