Former world title contender “King” Arthur Villanueva raises his hope for a possible world title fight when he faces Zolani Tete on April 8 in Manchester, England in a World Boxing Organization (WBO) bantamweight title-eliminator match.
After losing via technical draw against erstwhile champion McJoe Arroyo last July 18, 2015 in Texas, USA for the International Boxing Federation (IBF) super flyweight belt, Villanueva, 28, returns to the ring with the chance to fight for the WBO bantamweight belt which is being held presently by fellow Filipino Marlon Tapales.
Arroyo lost the belt to reigning Filipino IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas last September via unanimous decision in Taguig City.
But Villanueva’s trainer Edito Villamor told his ward to focus on getting past the former British world champion before thinking of the world title bout. Villamor warned Villanueva not to take Tete (24-3 record with 20 knockouts) lightly.
“Tete is not an ordinary boxer. He has the power and speed. Arthur (Villanueva) is up to the challenge, so he must train seriously hard,” Villamor told The Manila Times. “Our training is good so far and we’re watching Tete’s video.”
Asked about Villanueva’s chances against the South African native Tete who is based on England, Villamor said: “It’s going to be 50-50 that’s why he needs to be impressive in every round. He needs to show that he’s dominating in the fight. He needs to impress the judges.”
But Villamor said the possibility of Villanueva (30-1 win-loss record with 16 knockouts) scoring a knockout is there as the southpaw Tete’s three losses were via knockout.
“We have to figure it out how to knock him out and that’s a possibility. Tete was already knocked out before. The knockout will come and it’s just a matter of timing.”
After winning over Victor Mendez for the vacant World Boxing Council international super flyweight belt last November 11, 2015, Villanueva climbed up to the bantamweight rank and defeated twice Juan Jimenez via knockout last May 28, 2016 in Bacolod City and last September 24, 2016 in the US.
If Villanueva survives Tete, he’ll be fighting the winner of world title fight between defending WBO champion Tapales and Japanese challenger Shohei Omori on April 23 in Japan.
JOSEF T. RAMOS