“King” Arthur Villanueva suffered his first setback in his young career. Sunday morning (Manila time), the formerly unbeaten Filipino, making his debut in America, lost in a controversial tenth round technical decision against Puerto Rican McJoe Arroyo at the Don Haskins Convention Center in El Paso Texas.
The two unbeaten boxers, competing for the vacant IBF World super flyweight title, went toe-to-toe in the first two rounds of the fight that is very hard to judge as both men connected with few stinging shots and missed wildly with their power shots. In the third round, Villanueva found his footing in being the aggressor against a passive Arroyo. The Puerto Rican continued to stay on the defensive in the fourth round while the ALA standout pushed the pace by going forward.
The turning point of the match was in the closing seconds of the fifth round, the two men accidentally butted heads. Going into the sixth, the Texan crowd was growing impatient because of the lack of action. Another clash of heads occurred right after the start of the round. In a controversial move, referee Rafael Ramos decreed to deduct a point against Villanueva after another clash of heads. The two traded blows to close the round that resulted to a cut over the right eye of King Arthur.
Arroyo was able to land clean shots in the next two rounds as the Puerto Rican continued to be on the defensive and was effective on the clinch. Knowing that anything can happen if the match reaches the scorecards, the Negros Occidental-native was more active in the ninth and tenth rounds. A powerful combination by Villanueva caused the Puerto Rican to stumble back in the opening moments of the tenth round. However, Arroyo’s clinch briefly halted the momentum gained by Villanueva. In the closing minute of the round, another clash of heads occurred that resulted to a wider cut to the Filipino. The doctors had no other recourse but to stop the bout and take it to the cards.
Larry Hazzard Jr.: 98-91 Arroyo, Levi Martinez: 98-91 Arroyo, John Stewart: 97-92 Arroyo.
IBF World super flyweight championship: McJoe Arroyo def. Arthur Villanueva via TD10 to win the vacant championship
The crowd booed the decision as, in their eyes, Villanueva was the more aggressive fighter. Moreover, Villanueva wanted to continue with the bout as he deemed that it was not enough to hamper his vision.
With the loss, the 26-year old Villanueva falls to 27-1 while McJoe Arroyo stays unbeaten at 17-0.