FORMER world title challenger Arthur Villanueva is fighting the most important six-round bout of his entire career this weekend, March 27—a fight that would dictate his future in the sport.
“A win is very important for me because this is my ticket to continue my career,” Villanueva told SunStar Cebu.
Villanueva slugs it out with young prospect Bryan Tamayo in one of the undercard bouts of Omega Sports Promotions’ Kumbati 9 boxing show at the IPI Complex in Mandaue City, Cebu.
Villanueva is coming out of retirement in the hope of becoming a world champion.
He retired from boxing in 2019 after losing to World Boxing Council (WBC) bantamweight champion Nordine Oubaali in Kazakhstan on July 6, 2019.
It was his third attempt at becoming a world champion after losing his previous bids to Zolani Tete in 2017 and McJoe Arroyo in 2015.
Villanueva, however, had a change of heart and gave boxing another try after receiving an offer from Slovenian boxing manager Hinko Kostanvejec in 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic and the closure of ALA Promotions.
“My goal is to continue my dream of becoming a world champion. It’s always every boxer’s dream to become a world champion,” said the 32-year-old Bago City native.
Villanueva is not that far away from his dream because he is currently rated No. 22 by the WBC in the bantamweight division, wherein Oubaali is still the current titleholder.
Tamayo should be a good gauge for Villanueva on what level he’s at right now. Tamayo is no patsy and is a legitimate prospect.
The 23-year-old Tamayo has only one loss, a closely contested split decision to fellow up-and-comer KJ Natuplag in 2016. Tamayo went 3-0-2 after that.
“He is a good fighter. But I think I can take his power. He is also long and a southpaw. He’s active and throws punches in bunches. I need to land heavy blows from my right to disrupt his game,” said Villanueva.
Villanueva is 32-4-1 with 18 knockouts, while Tamayo is 6-1-2 with two knockouts.
Although Villanueva’s reason for coming out of retirement is to become a world champion, his focus right now isn’t on any of the bantamweight world champions but rather the fight at hand.
“For now, I don’t have anyone in mind. My focus is on my upcoming fight,” he said.