By Francisco Salazar
Is boxing ready for unbeaten Ruben Villa in 2019?
They will have to be, according to Villa.
The 21-year-old has not minced words as to wanting to face the best fighters at 126 pounds. After a successful amateur career, along with an impressive run as an unbeaten fighter thus far, Villa is eager to prove he is amongst the mix of talented fighters.
Villa will face late-sub Ruben Cervera tonight at Stageworks in Shreveport, Louisiana. The eight-round bout will precede the main event bout between Devin Haney and Xolisani Ndongeni.
Both fights, along with the opening bout between Frank Sanchez Faure and Willie Jake, Jr., will air live on Showtime as part of a ‘ShoBox’ telecast (10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT).
Villa (14-0, 5 knockouts) last fought on Oct. 13 in his hometown of Salinas, California, winning a one-sided eight round decision over Miguel Carrizoza.
The southpaw Villa, who has two victories over Shakur Stevenson in the amateur ranks, has developed into a solid prospect on Thompson Boxing Promotions cards. Thompson Boxing has developed fighters from prospects to fight for a world title, including Timothy Bradley, Josesito Lopez, Yonnhy Perez, and current WBA bantamweight titleholder Daniel Roman.
Villa has fought to a decision in eight of his nine bouts.
Tonight will mark the first time Villa will fight on a significant fight card, one that will air on a premium network.
Villa is taking it in stride.
“It’s an exciting opportunity to fight under the bright lights,” said Villa, who is co-promoted by Banner Promotions and Thompson Boxing. “This is what all boxers plan for, to be showcased on a national platform. The focus will stay the same. I’m going to be aggressive and put my stamp on the fight. I’m looking forward to delivering a memorable performance.”
Villa will now face Cervera (10-0 1 NC, 9 KOs), an unknown who resides in Santa Maria, Colombia.
In his last bout on Feb. 9, Cervera knocked out Oscar Carrillo Villa in the fifth round. Cervera has not faced an opponent with a winning record.
Cervera could be a dangerous opponent, but Villa is ready for the challenge.
“There’s not much video on him, but we know he likes to load up for big punches so we’ll be aware of that,” said Villa. “I’ll play it smart the first couple of rounds and see what he’s made of.”
Villa wants to make an impressive statement at the expense of Cervera to kick off 2019. Villa believes a win will lead to more appearances on Showtime later this year.
“I’m just going to fight my fight. I’ll use my footwork to keep him off-balanced and get him tired. I can pressure him with my hand speed and land punches from angles that he won’s see coming.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing