ORANGE, Calif. - Prized prospect Ruben Villa (11-0, 4 KOs) continued his upward trajectory by thoroughly dismantling Marlon Olea (13-3, 12 KOs) to win the vacant WBO Youth Featherweight Title Saturday night from his hometown of Salinas, Calif.
Villa, just days before his twenty-first birthday, headlined his first event and won his first title in front of a raucous home crowd. The southpaw delivered an impressive performance, winning every round on all three scorecards (80-72 x3).
"It's exactly how I wanted to end this night," said Villa, who is promoted by Thompson Boxing and Banner Promotions. "I blocked out the crowd and just did what I had to do. Olea moves around a lot, but I was able to land whatever I wanted."
After a feeling out first round, Villa turned up the heat in the second. Both hands began to split Olea's guard, which became a constant theme throughout the 8-round title fight.
As in his other fights, Villa consistently landed a seldom used punch by most boxers, a stiff jab to the midsection that neutralized the Colombian's attack.
In the third round, a "Ruben" chant broke out in the Salinas Storm House, just as the former back-to-back Golden Gloves champion started to land heavy combinations. Villa, who is managed by Danny Zamora, thrilled the sold-out crowd with his aggressive punching.
"Ruben put an exclamation point on what turned out to be a fantastic event," said Ken Thompson, president of Thompson Boxing. "It's the best I've seen him fight since he turned professional. He showed the skill and confidence of a veteran, yet he's barely turning 21. The sky is the limit for Ruben."
"I thought Ruben had a terrific performance on Saturday," said Artie Pelullo, president of Banner Promotions. "It was a great night for him to perform in front of his hometown fans, and capture his 1st title. This is the 1st of many titles in Ruben's future, and by the way, the fans turned out for him. I see Salinas being the home of many more fights for Ruben."
In the "New Blood" co-feature, Bruno Escalante (17-3-1, 7 KOs), backed by a sizeable crowd, outpointed Diuhl Olguin (11-10-2, 9 KOs) by unanimous decision. Scores: 78-73 twice, 77-74.
Escalante, fighting out of the Bay Area city of San Mateo, Calif., found pay dirt at the end of the second round with a left hook to the body. Olguin would recover, but failed to consistently connect against the more accurate Bruno.
Max Becerra (14-2-2, 8 KOs) of Vacaville, Calif. picked apart Erick Martinez (14-12-1, 8 KOs) of Mexico, sweeping their 6-round fight 60-54 all around.
Becerra, who signed with Thompson Boxing in March, had a considerable height and reach advantage. Martinez could never close the gap due to Becerra's jab and combinations. Becerra came forward with confidence and precision, while Martinez resorted to ill-timed haymakers.
Alberto Torres (10-1-3, 4 KOs) of Sacramento, Calif. couldn't find the range against Mexico's Naciff Martinez (17-10-3, 5 KOs) in their 6-round bout. The tough-to-score bout ended in a majority draw, with Torres earning one judge's scorecard (58-56) and the other two deadlocked at 57-57.
Unbeaten lightweight Pedro Moreno (8-0, 5 KOs) of Sacramento found success behind a counter left hook and tight punching while in the pocket to easily defeat Sergio Ramirez (3-2, 3 KOs) by unanimous decision. Scores 60-54 twice, 59-55.
Moreno, who recently signed a promotional deal with Thompson Boxing, looked like the stronger fighter from the start. He mixed his punches well and stopped Ramirez from mounting any advances.
Lightweight Bogar Padilla (1-1) of Mexico handed Napa's Brandon Trejo (3-1, 1 KO) his first loss in a thrilling back-and-forth contest that opened the "New Blood" event.
Both fighters came out of their respective corners firing away, but it was Padilla that connected toward the end of the first with consecutive right hands to the chin that deposited Trejo on his back.
The second round featured more exchanges than the first, with Padilla striking from the outside. Trejo tried to counter Padilla, but never developed the exact timing to score telling blows. Padilla was a well-known amateur in his native Mexico, having won numerous national tournaments and was even considered his country's top lightweight prospect.