Featherweight contender Ruben “Drac” Villa, the 25-year-old southpaw dynamo from Salinas, California, has inked a multi-fight promotional contract with Top Rank.
Villa will make his long-awaited ring return in an eight-rounder Saturday, May 13, on the undercard of the Janibek Alimkhanuly-Steven Butler WBO middleweight title fight at Stockton Arena in Stockton, California.
“Ruben Villa has everything it takes to become a world champion,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “He’s a young, talented southpaw who has already tested himself at the sport’s highest level. His future is very bright.”
Villa said, “I have always dreamed of fighting on ESPN consistently and being with Top Rank to make the big fights. I want to win a world title and to do it as soon as possible. I look forward to fighting in Stockton, where my hometown fans will be out in full force.”
“Villa will be a world champion very soon,” said Rick Mirigian, Villa’s manager. “This partnership was the perfect fit, and we thank Top Rank for a tremendous deal for Ruben to prove he belongs with the top featherweights.”
Villa (19-1, 6 KOs) turned pro in 2016 and captured the WBO International featherweight strap in May 2019 with a unanimous decision over Luis Alberto Lopez, who is now the IBF featherweight world champion. Four months after toppling Lopez, he pitched a shutout over top Mexican contender Jose Enrique Vivas.
Those victories helped earn him a shot at Emanuel Navarrete for the WBO featherweight world title in October 2020. Navarrete dropped Villa in the first and fourth rounds, but Villa outboxed Navarrete for long stretches.
The two knockdowns were critical, as Navarrete notched a unanimous decision by scores of 114-112 2x and 115-111. Villa has fought once since the Navarrete loss, knocking out Horacio Garcia in the ninth round last April.