MANILA, Philippines – Arthur Villanueva entered the Don Haskins Convention Center in El Paso, Texas on Sunday, July 19 as an undefeated fighter, and more than a few felt he should’ve left unbeaten too.
The Filipino boxer’s vacant IBF junior bantamweight title fight against McJoe Arroyo ended prematurely in round 10 due to a head clash that produced a deep gash on Villanueva’s right eye, with wide scores 98-91 on two cards and 97-92 on a third going to the Puerto Rican fighter.
Villanueva (27-1, 14 knockouts) was the busier fighter, throwing 494 and landing 95, while Arroyo (17-0, 8 KOs) threw just 278 and landed 77. Villanueva’s straight right hands were his best work of the fight, particularly in the earlier rounds, while Arroyo waited for counterpunch opportunities that materialized infrequently.
(READ: For Arthur Villanueva, boxing is a chess match)
The orthodox Villanueva, who is from Bacolod City, Philippines and managed by Cebu-based company ALA Promotions, and the southpaw Arroyo clashed heads on several occasions. The bout was also marred by excessive clinching.
Referee Rafael Ramos, who was born in Puerto Rico but now resides in Texas, deducted a point from Villanueva in round 6 for one such head clash, though it was Arroyo who had been lunging forward at that moment.
The fight was heading towards Villanueva’s direction when Ramos stopped the fight at the 2:05 mark due to the cut that had opened a few rounds earlier.
Highly-regarded boxing writer Michael Woods referred to Villanueva as “the guy who deserved the victory,” while writer Scott Christ scored the fight 95-94 for Villanueva but added: “This was a fight where Villanueva was ineffectively busier, while Arroyo was arguably slightly more effective, not that it it took a lot, but with far less output.”
Ring magazine/WBO junior flyweight champ Donnie Nietes – a stablemate of Villanueva’s – remains the only currently reigning boxing champion from the Philippines.
The fight was televised in the United States by Showtime Championship Boxing and was Villanueva’s first fight in the U.S. – Rappler.com
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