At his best Villanueva controls fights amazingly well. He thinks about what he's doing, he shows excellent poise and patience and takes advantage of any mistakes he makes. Unlike many Filipino fighters Villanueva is thinking man's boxer though with his power, skill and speed he can also turn the heat up early, as he did last time out against Edgar Martinez who was stopped in just 109 seconds.
The patience of Villanueva is great though can see him having some issues including 3 very close victories over Mark Anthony Geraldo, Jeffrey Cerna and Taiki Eto. Thankfully though he has taken those narrow victories on board and developed the way he fights as a result.
With an educated jab, solid power, good speed and improving skills Villanueva is widely regarded as the most complete fighter at the ALA gym. There is still improvement to be made but the WBO International Super Flyweight champion is on the verges of a world title fight and is ranked by every one of the big 4 title bodies.
Villanueva will be hoping to keep those rankings, score his 25th straight victory and make the first defense of his WBO International title on March 1st as he takes on Mexico's former world title challenger Juan "Churritos" Hernandez (23-3, 16).
In Hernandez we have a fighter that Japanese fans will likely recognise as he did challenger Kazuto Ioka a few years back, in a Minimumweight title fight. Since then though Hernandez has filled his body out and rather than boiling down to 105lbs he now fights closer to the Flyweight division. He will still be smaller than Villanueva but shouldn't be dwarfed like one may expect.
Although Hernandez is the naturally smaller fighter we're more worried about his relative lack of durability. He has been stopped twice in his 3 losses and one of those came just 2 bouts back with Ramon Garcia Hirales knocking him out in 8 rounds. Hirales isn't a big puncher and if he can knock out Hernandez then it's logical that Villanueva can as well.
At his best Hernandez is decent fighter and he holds a legitimate, though very narrow, victory over Moises Fuentes and a highly controversial disqualification over Denver Cuello. They are however the only notable victories on his record.
Going in to this fight we can't see anything but a Villanueva victory. He can either jab and box himself to a clear decision using his reach and pin point jab or, if he feels brave, he can go in there and swat around the smaller man in search of an impressive and early KO. It really is his choice and we really can't see Hernandez beating the very talented Filipino who seems to have his eyes primed at WBO world champion Omar Andres Narvaez.
We don't think that Villanueva is quite ready for a world title fight but the 25 year old certainly has the makings of a future world champion as long as he keeps racking victories.