One of the best title fights for us this month comes from the US as we get a really mouth watering IBF Super Flyweight title bout between two unbeaten men looking to claim their first world title and pick up the belt recently vacated by the talented but enigmatic Zolani Tete. For those unaware, Tete vacated the title due to a dispute over money for a scheduled with one of the two men now trying to claim his former belt.
Originally Tete was supposed to fight Puerto Rican fighter McJoe Arroyo (16-0, 8). Arroyo isn't just unbeaten but is in sensational form recently, scoring dominant wins over Hernan Marquez and Mark Anthony Geraldo. Whilst a bout between Arroyo and Tete looked brilliant Tete's refusal to take part in the bout has left an equally good looking bout with Arroyo now facing unbeaten Filipino Arthur Villanueva (27-0, 14).
Whilst both men would likely have liked to have beaten a “recognised” champion to claim a title it's fair to say that neither will complain about being matched with another unbeaten and highly regarded top contender.
Of the two men the one that we're most concerned with is the Filipino fighter, who has been in and around the rankings for several years whilst awaiting an eventual world title bout. That opportunity has seen Villanueva wait, though he has been able to pick up some invaluable experience and ring time against a variety of foes.
Villanueva first came to the attention of many Filipino fans back in 2010 when he claimed the GAB Flyweight title with a stoppage of Brix Ray. The following year Villanueva recorded his first defense of the title and also scored a notable win over the the then rising Mark Anthony Geraldo. Things went from strength to strength and by the end of 2012 Villanueva had claimed the OPBF Super Flyweight title with a win over Taiki Eto, whilst also scoring notable wins over Rey Megrino and Pramuansak Posuwan.
Despite having a break out run between 2010 and 2013 Villanueva failed to capitalise, despite scoring another excellent win in early 2013 over the then unbeaten Marco Demecillo. Sadly the failure to make good on his success saw 2014 become a very frustrating year with incredibly close wins over Fernando Aguilar and Henry Maldonado, though he did end the year with an excellent win over former world champion Julio Cesar Miranda.
As a boxer Villanueva can be very patient and smart. He can play the matador role really well. Unfortunately however he can also over-look his opponents, as he did with Aguilar and Maldonado. When he does that it really does leave us wondering just how credible he can be as a genuine title contender. If on form and up for the bout Villanueva is a handful for almost anyone else in the division, if he's over-looked an opponent however he's an accident waiting to happen.
Whilst the 26 year old Villanueva has taken his time since turning professional back in 2008 he has developed a lot with his 27 fights, and 178 rounds.
As for Arroyo the 29 year old Puerto Rican was tipped for success ever since his days as an amateur. It was in the unpaid ranks that Arroyo competed at the top level and even claimed the bronze medal, at the 2007 World Amateur Championships.
In 2010 the Puerto Rican turned to the professional ranks to little fan fare. After 10 bouts he had really failed to even register on the scene with no wins of note. In the last 3 years however he has really began to impress, with several wins of note. The first of those came in September 2012 when he stopped former world champion Jose Lopez in 4 rounds. More recently he's scored an excellent 11th round TKO victory against Hernan Marquez and a very wide decision win over Mark Anthony Geraldo.
At his best Arroyo is a very good boxer-puncher who fights from the southpaw stance. He's perhaps not the biggest hitter and fastest fighter in the division but he is very capable and knows when to be patient and when to force the issue. Among his best tools is his jab, which is sharp and heavy, and his his boxing brain which is very on point as he sees openings very quickly.
Although talented Arroyo has been dropped, and run very close, by Jairo Hernandez. That is the sole black mark against him so far, though he did gut it out and win the bout. It's also notable however that his face did appear to swell slightly against Marquez, despite Marquez really struggling to get any notable success, this may be more of an issue against an opponent who can tag him.
On paper this promises to be an intriguing contest between two talented and hungry fighters. Sadly for Villanueva he appears to have more faults that Arroyo. It's fair to say that at their best both look like future champions however, from what we've seen, Arroyo is the more complete fighter that the moment and he's less likely to fall to sleep, unlike the Filipino. With that said we don't imagine either fighter has the power to stop the other but we're expecting to see a clear win for Arroyo.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.