Nordine Oubaali’s first defense of the WBC bantamweight title is set for July 6 in Kazakhstan, as the French titleholder will face Filipino veteran Arthur Villanueva on a card that will stream live on ESPN+.
Oubaali (15-0, 11 KO) beat Rau’shee Warren to win the vacant 118-pound belt on Jan. 19 in Las Vegas. It was a rematch of sorts, as Oubaali had also beaten Warren at the 2012 Olympics. The 32-year-old southpaw is a two-time Olympian and will be the major favorite in this fight.
“I’m expecting this to be a huge night of boxing. There’ll be 10,000 people in the venue so it’s a beautiful night for boxing and for Kazakhstan,” Oubaali said. “The fans can expect great entertainment because this collision with Villanueva has all the ingredients to be a really explosive fight.”
Villanueva (32-3-1, 18 KO) is a 30-year-old fighter who’s been a pro since 2008, and while not a bad fighter or anything, also not a serious world-level contender by any means, a fringe contender at best. He’s 2-2-1 in his last five, including a majority draw last time out against club fighter Carlo Demecillo. In 2017, he lost to both Zolani Tete and Luis Nery, and neither fight was close. He also lost to McJoe Arroyo back in 2015.
“I learned a lot from fights like the Tete fight, where I went the distance,” Villanueva said. “Even though I wasn’t successful in winning the belt that time, I picked up things I can use against Oubaali.”