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Ruben Villa ready for world title shot against Emanuel Navarrete

Anthony Cocks

Australian-based boxing journalist Anthony Cocks has been covering the sport for over 15 years for various print and online publications. He refuses to believe that Roberto Duran ever lost to Tommy Hearns and says that Jeff Fenech would destroy Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali on the same night.

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WBO number two ranked featherweight Ruben Villa 18-0 (5) is confident he has the measure of former WBO super bantamweight champion Emanuel Navarrete 32-1 (28) ahead of the clash for the vacant WBO 126-pound title at ‘The Bubble’ at the MM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 9 live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.

The 23-year-old Californian southpaw remains unfazed by Navarrete’s credentials, which includes five successful defences of the WBO 122-pound strap he won against Isaac Dogboe in December 2018. Navarrete is undefeated in the last eight years, which spans 27 fights.

“I have been working my butt off since I was a little kid for this opportunity, and I just can’t wait to get in there and fight for the title,” said Villa, who is promoted by Banner Promotions and Thompson Boxing.

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“Navarrete is a real aggressive Mexican fighter. He is coming to win. He was a former champion, and I am the underdog, but I have the style to beat him.

“We have kept the camp the same. We just treat it like it’s every other fight, just that this fight is for a world title.  All my hard work is paying off.

“I am honoured and excited to represent everyone who has supported me and my journey to become a world champion, and I plan on bringing the world title back to my home city of Salinas, California.”

Villa has won his last three fights on points over 10 rounds with his most recent outing being a unanimous decision victory over Alexei Collado in Shreveport, Louisiana in January.

The Navarrete fight will be his first real step up in class in his four-year pro career, but one co-promoter Artie Pelullo of Banner Promotions says he is ready for.

“This is what we envisioned for Ruben when we signed him out of the amateurs, to be fighting for a world title,” the president of Banner Promotions said.

“That opportunity has now arrived, and we expect Ruben to put on a great performance on October 9th and win the WBO featherweight world title.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Stephen Espinoza and Gordon Hall of Showtime for all their help with the development of Ruben’s career, by showcasing him on ShoBox that has helped get him ready for this fight.”

As an amateur, Villa compiled a record of 116–17, winning two US National Golden Gloves championships and competing at the US Olympic Trials.

He holds notable wins over former WBO featherweight champion Shakur Stevenson and WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney in the unpaid ranks.

“Ruben Villa is a terrific fighter and has the ability to make his dream to become a world champion a reality,” said Ken Thompson, CEO of Thompson Boxing.

“The hard work that Banner Promotions and us at Thompson Boxing have put on his career will surely pay off.

“Navarrete is a terrific champion and it will be a huge challenge for our fighter, but I’m sure Ruben will rise up to the occasion and make us all proud.”

Villa is ranked number eight in the world at featherweight by The Ring magazine.

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