COTABATO CITY – Lorenzo “Thunderbolt” Villanueva of Bual Norte, Midsayap, North Cotabato faces the toughest challenge of his fighting career yet when he squares off with Indonesian Daud Cino Yordan for the International Boxing Organization’s (IBO) World Featherweight Title at the Marina Bay Sands Resort in Singapore on Saturday, May 5.
Villanueva, a 27-year old orphan, holds an impressive professional record of 24 wins with 23 knockouts and hopes to make history by becoming the first world boxing champion from North Cotabato.
The Filipino fighter, who has been signed up by Freddie Roach and underwent a three-week training with the Hall of Fame trainer late last year, is considered as a street fighter who, while awkward inside the ring, possesses tremendous power and has knocked down all of his opponents as a pro, with 23 of them not lasting beyond 10 rounds.
His last three fights ended in first round knockouts with the shortest time being at one minute 17 seconds of the first canto against another Indonesian, Eddy Comaro. The last knockout was against Diego Ledesma of Mexico, who only lasted one minute 25 seconds.
Against Yordan, however, Villanueva is considered an underdog.
Yordan, 25, a former Olympian, is considered as one of Indonesia’s two top professional boxers, along with World Boxing Association (WBA) featherweight champion Chris John who is also defending his title in one of the two world title fights featured at the Marina Bay Sands on Saturday.
Yordan, who is taller than the Filipino by an inch at 5’7″, is considered the more veteran and skillful of the two fighters having had a long amateur stint and two unsuccessful bids for the world title against John and world champion Celestino Caballero.
While the Indonesian fighter suffered two losses in his two world title attempts, he has never been stopped, not even by Chris John, Indonesia’s greatest boxing champion, when they fought last year.
Quick and fast with his punches, Yordan is expected to move around the slower and sometimes flat-footed Villanueva.
“I know he will run but I will catch him,” said Villanueva.
The Filipino fighter said he will give his all in his first world title attempt “even if I have to die doing it.”
Villanueva said he is dedicating his fight to his four younger brothers and sisters whose future would depend on his victory inside the ring on Saturday.
Villanueva and his siblings were orphaned when their father was killed in a quarrel with a neighbor. The small piece of land that his father worked on had to be mortgaged to pay for the funeral expenses. His mother left soon after his father’s death.
His older sister had to find job abroad while Lorenzo was left behind to assume the role of head of the family at the very young age taking care of five younger brothers and sisters.
“I want to rebuild our family,” Villanueva says.
He also dreams of building a house and bring home his sister, Laurie, who has never been heard of since she left for Jordan, and her mother, who left home following the death of his father.
Villanueva and his team includes his manager, former North Cotabato Gov. Manny Pinol, assistant trainers Lerio and Rex Peñalosa. Also joining Villanueva’s corner is two-time world boxing champion Gerry “Fearless” Peñalosa.
A huge group of supporters from his home province of North Cotabato is expected to fly to Singapore to witness Villanueva’s attempt to become the first world boxing champion from the province.