Southern California’s Anthony “Baby Assassin” Villarreal is currently in the Philippines to defend his WBC Youth flyweight title against hometown talent Milan Melindo (19-0).
Villarreal, 22, lives in Perris, California a small desert town located in between Riverside and Temecula. It’s only the second time he fights outside of his country.
“Well this is my first time fighting overseas and if I had to compare it I would say it's a lot crazier out here than when I fought in Mexico,” said Villarreal (9-2, 4 KOs) from his camp in Cebu City. “I’m not used to all this exposure during my work outs. I kind of got no privacy but it's cool.”
The boxing crazy fans in the Philippines have been eager to see what Melindo will be facing on Thursday at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel. Most know nothing about Villarreal except what is printed on his record. Villarreal is dropping down to 110 pounds in a catch weight fight. That’s another obstacle.
Villarreal is just as eager to defend the title he captured in what many consider an upset. In a fight that took place in April 2009, the Perris fighter out-sped and out-fought favored Manny Roman after eight rounds in Irvine.
“I've been waiting to defend my title but it has taken this long time,” says Villarreal who is trained by Al Franco. “I've had some fights lined up but they didn't happen. I'm just glad to finally have a fight.”
Melindo is a speedy undefeated boxer who in 19 pro fights has five knockouts. But speed versus speed will be featured in this flyweight clash. Villarreal is accustomed to being the faster fighter.
It’s always tough fighting in another country.
“In a nutshell, the game plan against this guy is to make him miss and make him pay,” Villarreal said via e-mail. “I would prefer not to leave it up to the judges either.”
The title fight will not be televised in the U.S.