FORMER world title contender Arthur Villanueva felt that he was already done with his career after losing in his third world title attempt in 2019. He decided to retire at the age of 30, started a restaurant in his native of Bago City and was ready to transition from being a boxer to becoming a trainer.
But because of unforeseen circumstances, his plans changed, and it opened a new opportunity for him to continue his boxing career.
“Yes. I’m making a comeback,” Villanueva told SunStar Cebu.
“I decided to retire because I felt a lot in my body. My left knuckle would swell up after every fight. After my last fight, my left eyebrow had to be operated on because of a cyst. I felt that those were signs that I had to retire. I was planning on becoming a trainer in China. If it wasn’t for Covid-19, I would have been a trainer there already. But because of the pandemic, and because I received an offer after the closure of ALA, I thought of coming back and felt that it still wasn’t my time to become a trainer. So, I’ll give boxing one more try.”
The 31-year-old Villanueva recently signed a managerial contract with Slovenian Hinko Kostanvejec, through his former strength and conditioning coach Pio Solon. He’s also training with his fellow former ALA Boy Merlito Sabillo to get back in fighting form.
“I already signed with manager Hinko Kostanvejec,” said Villanueva. “I’m with Sabillo training right now. I asked his gym if I could train with Sabillo and I’ll also help them out, and they said yes.”
Villanueva said that he’ll be based in Cebu City with coach Solon and that he’ll fly to Slovenia to train under former world champion Dejan Zavec if he’ll be having a fight.
“I’m slowly getting back my condition in training. I will return to 118 pounds,” said Villanueva. “I still don’t have a scheduled fight right now but maybe in January or February.”
Villanueva last fought against World Boxing Council (WBC) bantamweight champion Nordine Oubaali on July 6, 2019. He lost via a sixth round stoppage in Kazakhstan.
Villanueva challenged for world titles on two other occasions—against Zolani Tete for the International Boxing Federation (IBF) bantamweight belt in 2017 and the IBF super flyweight strap against McJoe Arroyo in 2015.
Even though he retired, Villanueva is still rated No. 24 in the WBC bantamweight rankings. He has a record of 32-4-1 with 18 knockouts.
“I’ll do my best to be back in fighting condition so that I’ll be ready for whoever they place in front of me,” said Villanueva. (EKA)