On Friday, October 9th live on ESPN, we will see former WBO bantamweight champion Emanuel Navarrete (32-1) going up against the undefeated Ruben Villa IV (18-0), for the vacant WBO Featherweight title.
This looks to be an all-out war as Navarrete has big power and is a come forward fighter while Villa has quick feet and a slick southpaw boxing style.
Ruben Villa IV is one of those fighters that has been buzzing on the west coast for a little while now but hasn’t quite reached the radar of the general boxing public. Villa (JabHook alert!), who is promoted by Thompson Boxing and Banner Promotions, has earned his right to fight for the title even though he wasn’t originally scheduled for it.
As Villa gets closer to his much anticipated title shot on ESPN, he took a few minutes to give us a glimpse into his life.
AG: Ruben, thank you for taking the time to do this interview after a long day of training. Can you tell the readers a little about yourself before we get into the boxing topics?
RV: My name is Ruben Villa IV and I was born and raised in Salinas, CA. I got into boxing because my Dad and Grandpa were big boxing fans. For my fifth birthday, they decided to take me to the local boxing gym and that is how it all started.
AG: Coming up through the amateur ranks, you faced and had victories over guys like Shakur Stevenson and WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney. What were those experiences like for you especially since they have both have earned world titles?
RV: Beating those guys really helped mold my style and it made me want to pursue boxing as a profession. I also stay in my own lane and focus solely on my career. Big ups to those guys as they have gotten their belts but now it’s my time for me to get mine.
AG: Do you feel as though the timing of the title shot is appropriate or should it have been sooner?
RV: I feel like it’s perfect timing as my last fight was in January and at that time, my team had said to plan to fight in a title eliminator or for a belt by the end of the year. COVID came in but we were still able to get our title shot in 2020 which was the plan from the beginning of the year.
AG: What does it mean to become a world champion from Salinas? Why is it so important to you?
RV: It would mean a lot as no one from Salinas has ever won a world title in boxing. It would just mean a lot to me, my family and team. I have been training for this my whole life and it’s what every boxer dreams of doing. The hard work is finally paying off but I still have to go in and win the fight.
AG: With the recent fires, how has the lack of air quality effected your training? Did you have to do anything different?
RV: It affected me a lot at first as we were not able to run outside (mountain runs, beach) so we just used the treadmill. The work still had to be put in so there are no excuses. No matter what is going on whether COVID or the fires, the work has to be put in.
AG: Most talent evaluators say that you have very quick feet. How did that come about and how do you maintain that?
RV: I’m not sure as I do a lot of ladder and track work. I also felt comfortable using my quick feet as another tool and it really set me apart. I really started to focus on that in the beginning of my Pro career which helped us with different looks.
AG: Why was it so important to not stay active on social media during this training camp?
RV: There are so many distractions with that and I’d rather just stay in my own lane and focus on the fight. I have never been so focused and wanting to win so bad. Honestly, I felt that it helped being off of social media as I didn’t want the stress or pressure to interfere with camp.
AG: Speaking of distractions, do you feel some weight lifted off of your shoulders for this fight because it’s in the bubble ie: tickets for family, etc?
RV: Honestly, yeah, as being in the bubble there is no audience and you don’t have to worry about how your family is going to get in or how many people are trying to get in. It’s a big thing to worry about that and still trying to focus on the fight. It does suck that my family won’t be there to see me win my first world title but everyone will still be in Vegas to support.
AG: Are you doing anything different to prepare for this world title fight?
RV: Honestly, I haven’t done anything different. I have just been doing more of what we have done for previous fights. I feel like what we have always been doing works which is why I am still undefeated. If it ain't broke, don’t fix it.
AG: For the naysayers that aren’t giving you a shot in this fight, what do you say to them?
RV: They are going to just have to wait and see on October 9th. I can’t wait to show what I have been working on, my skill set and win the title so that I can shove it in their face!
AG: For those that have been supporting you since the beginning, what do you say to those fans? Also, where can people follow you on social media?
RV: I am so thankful that people are still following/supporting me and I am excited for them too. To get a win for them is going to be a big thing for me and the city. On social media, you can follow me on twitter @ruben_villa4 and on Instagram @rubenv4.
My Three Cents: After speaking to Ruben Villa IV, it is clear that he is motivated and extremely focused on this fight. Villa IV is the more natural featherweight and will probably have a size advantage over Navarrete.
Will Navarrete bring up his power from super bantamweight to give Villa IV trouble? Will Villa IV prove to all of the doubters that he belongs in that position by out-boxing Navarrete while capturing the title?
One thing is for sure, you do not want to miss this title fight, as it will not disappoint.