Ruben Villa says he has a ‘chip on his shoulder’ after being largely overlooked in his vacant WBO featherweight title fight against Emanuel Navarrete at the ‘bubble’ in the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, on Friday night.

Former WBO 122lbs king Navarrete (32-1, 28 KOs) is widely viewed as the favourite on the basis of his recent exploits at super-bantam where he twice humbled previous title holder Isaac Dogboe.

But Villa (18-0, 5 KOs),, from Salinas, California, had a rich amateur pedigree before plotting an unbeaten path as a pro and is somewhat irked by his underdog status.

“Navarrete is a good fighter, but I will be honest, I feel largely disrespected coming into this fight. I am a southpaw who is the bigger man, and had a better amateur career, but am being viewed as an underdog,” said Villa. “I have a chip on my shoulder and, though I respect Navarrete’s skills, I am looking to prove a point.

“This camp has been the best camp of my life. I turned off all social media, I took a ‘Mamba Mentality’ and focused strictly on training. I’ve had great sparring partners preparing for this fight like Manny Jaimes, Javier Padilla, Andy Vences and Xavier Martinez, and they all gave me tough rounds, and I am ready for whatever Navarrete will bring, whether it is boxing or pressure.

“I love my hometown of Salinas, California, and I want to bring home a world title to all the fans here that have supported me over the years. I have told my trainers Max Garcia and Sam Garcia that this has been a childhood dream of mine since I first laced up a pair of gloves. We’re working as a team to accomplish this goal.”

Main image: Brett Ostrowski.