As the cliché goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
In his eight-year prize fighting career, Arthur Villanueva (30-1, 16 KOs) has only tasted defeat once.
Back in 2015, Villanueva absorbed the sole loss on his slate at the hands of McJoe Arroyo. The match had all the marbles on the line, as the vacant IBF world Super Flyweight title had been up for grabs. And the match still to give him nightmares, as he continues to believe that he had won the fight.
Nearly two years have passed, but Villanueva still remembers that sting of defeat. It is not because he has not moved on from it, however; rather, he treats it as a pivotal experience that has helped him move forward.
Since that loss, the 30-year old Negrense has strung together a three-fight win streak and is on the verge of another world title shot.
But if he had not experienced the Arroyo fight, this would not have been possible, according to him.
“Siyempre may natutunan din ako sa laban ko kahit natalo ako at naging inspirasyon ko din yun para manalo ako sa mga laban ko,” Villanueva, who is slated to fight Zolani Tete (24-3), this weekend in the UK, told Tiebreaker Times. “Kumbaga yung negative impact sakin sa pagkatalo ko ay ginawa kong positive para mas maging better fighter pa ako sa mga susunod kung laban.
“Yung mga na-learn ko dun sa laban namin ni Arroyo kailangan kong i-apply ngayon sa laban ko kay Tete. Dapat maipakita ko na panalo ako bawat round.”
The loss forced Villanueva to re-assess himself and take an even more detailed approach to fighting. From the preparation down to the fight itself, he makes sure to be diligent — especially with his conditioning. In addition, it made him realize that a move to bantamweight was necessary.
The result? Better performances and more exposure.
While the sacrifices he has made may be painstaking, Villanueva has taken it as a challenge to reinvent himself as a boxer. Moreover, has given him the right focus for every task at hand.
“Naging matured na talaga ako sa laban ko since nung pagkatalo ko kay Arroyo at malaki na din ang pagbabago ng kondisyon ko mula ng umakyat ako ng timbang. Mas gumanda ang kondisyon ko,” he pointed out.
A shot at reigning WBO bantamweight king Marlon Tapales (29-2, 12KOs) could be looming if he impresses against Tete — an All-Filipino showdown that he has looked forward to since the “Maranding Nightmare”, and against a fighter who also trains out of Cebu and is his good friend.
“Matagal ko ring hinintay ang laban na iyon since nasa 115-pounds pa kami pareho,” he said.
“Pinaghirapan ko ang preparation ko ngayon at nag-ensayo ako ng mabuti dahil alam ko na ito lang din ang chance ko na makabalik ulit sa world title fight.
“Kung sakaling kami [ni Marlon] ang mag-aabot, siguro pareho kaming ma-prepressure dahil nga world championship eto. Pero alam ko ‘pag dating na sa ibabaw ng ring talagang ibibigay mo lahat ng galing mo eh at sigurado akong magiging magandang laban ito,” he promised.