ARTHUR Villanueva gets another crack at a world title when he vies for the World Boxing Council (WBC) bantamweight crown against undefeated defending champion Nordine Oubaali in Astana, Kazakhstan on Saturday.
The 30-year-old Villanueva of the famed ALA boxing gym in Cebu left for Astana on Sunday accompanied by trainers Edito and Edmund Villamor, along with Michael Domingo.
This will be Villanueva’s second attempt at a world title belt since 2015 when he lost via a 10th round technical decision to Puerto Rican McJoe Arroyo for the vacant International Boxing Federation (IBF) super-flyweight championship in El Paso, Texas.
Villanueva suffered a bad cut in his right eye against Arroyo that prompted the referee to stop the fight upon the advice of ring doctor.
It wouldn’t be as easy against the 32-year-old Oubaali, a native of France and two-time Olympian who is unbeaten in 15 fights, 11 of them coming by way of knockouts. The French captured the WBC title with a unanimous decision win over Rau’shee Warren in Las Vegas last January.
Villanueva carries a 32-3-1 record with 18 KOs but had been 2-2-1 in his last five outings. He is coming off a 10-round majority draw against compatriot Carlo Demecillo in Cebu City last year.
The Filipino also lost to world-rated Luis Nery and future world champion Zolani Tete.
But Villanueva believes going up against experienced fighters such as Arroyo, Tete, and Nery would be a good benchmark in his bout against Oubaali to be held at the Bary’s Arena Nur-Sultan.