Salinas boxer Ruben Villa set to defend WBO International Featherweight title TONIGHT

Four months ago, Salinas native and Everett Alvarez alum Ruben Villa added another title to his name: World Boxing Organization (WBO) International Featherweight champion.

This Friday, he’ll have to do something new: defend his title.

“It’s more personal because winning a title isn’t as hard as keeping a title,” Villa said Wednesday. “I plan on defending my title, it means a lot to me. It gives me more motivation to win this fight and I plan to take this home with me.”

Villa’s challenger on Friday — Texcoco, Mexico native Jose Enrique Durantes Vivas — is the second undefeated opponent he’s faced this year.

Vivas (17-0, 9 KOs) is known for his aggressive style from a background in martial arts and kickboxing. He went 93-7 as an amateur and won national, regional and state championships in Mexico.

Nicknamed the “El Ejecutor” (The Executioner), he’ll be fighting for just the second time on U.S. soil when he steps into ring Friday night.

“I am very happy I got this opportunity,” Vivas said in a release from Thompson Boxing Promotions. “Villa is a very strong southpaw with a lot of experience. He is one of the best featherweights out there. I’m up for the challenge.”

Vivas and Villa are familiar, having sparred earlier this year during training for different fights.

“I know he’s aggressive,” Villa said. “I know what he’s like, I just have to be smart and be safe out there.”

Friday’s fight marks another time that Villa will be featured on ShoBox: The New Generation program on Showtime, something that’s increased his visibility.

“I’m getting recognized outside of Salinas now,” Villa said. “It’s a good thing (being on ShoBox). I know Showtime doesn’t put just anyone on there so I take it seriously.”

The event starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the La Hacienda Event Center in Midland, Texas. ShoBox: The New Generation airs starting at 7:30 p.m. again on Showtime and check out for viewing options.

Via Ayrton Ostly, Salinas Californian