Ruben Villa believes another impressive victory Friday night will help lead him toward the world title shot he hopes to earn by the end of this year.
The undefeated featherweight will oppose hard-hitting Cuban contender Alexei Collado in the main event of Showtime’s “ShoBox: The New Generation” tripleheader. The Villa-Collado clash will headline a show from Hirsch Coliseum in Shreveport, Louisiana.
The 31-year-old Collado has won seven straight fights, six by knockout, since Omar Douglas knocked him out in the seventh round of their June 2016 bout in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Miami’s Collado (26-2, 23 KOs) has knocked out 82 percent of his pro opponents, but overall hasn’t fought a high level of opposition.
“He’s another good veteran,” Villa said. “It’s another step for me to showcase my talents. We’ve seen his record. I’ve seen some tape on him. He’s a real strong, aggressive guy, but I feel like he’s wild and off balance. With my footwork and how well I find my distance and how fast I find it, I’ll feel him out the first few rounds and just work from there.”
The 22-year-old Villa (17-0, 5 KOs) went 3-0 in 2019 against opponents who had a combined record of 44-1 entering those bouts. Each of those fights was televised as part the “ShoBox” series.
“I feel like this fight will open doors for me. As long as I keep growing and keep winning, I feel like maybe by the end of this year I can get a title eliminator or maybe even a title shot. I just have to keep winning, doing my best and looking my best.”
Villa, who’s represented by Artie Pelullo’s Banner Promotions, is ranked fifth among the WBO’s featherweight contenders for Shakur Stevenson’s title. The Salinas, California, native also is the 13th-rated contender for Gary Russell Jr.’s WBC 126-pound crown.
“I just want anyone who has a belt,” Villa said. “There’s no specific name that I want. I just wanna get my belt and then, whenever I’m able to call my shots, I’ll call my shots. Until then, I’m just working and paying my dues to get there.”
Showtime’s three-bout broadcast is set to start Friday night at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
Just before Villa and Collado meet, unbeaten Ukrainian southpaw Taras Shelestyuk (17-0, 10 KOs) is set to square off against Argentina’s Luis Veron (18-1-2, 10 KOs) in a 10-round welterweight bout. Shelestyuk, who won a bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, is trained by Freddie Roach.
In this “ShoBox” opener, Armenia’s Zhora Hamazaryan (9-1-1, 6 KOs) and Uganda’s Sulaiman Segawa (13-2, 4 KOs) are scheduled to meet in an eight-round lightweight contest.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.