Ruben Villa aggressively outboxed Brandon Valdes on Friday night.

The left-handed featherweight contender continued his journey toward another 126-pound title shot by beating Valdes unanimously in an entertaining eight-round fight on the Luis Alberto Lopez-Joet Gonzalez undercard at American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. Judges Nathan Cantu, Joel Elizondo and Hector Gonzalez all favored Villa’s ability to land left hands and right hooks against the game Valdes and scored their fight 78-74 for him.

Valdes consistently caught Villa with counter right hands, however, to keep their contest competitive. He won two rounds apiece according to all three judges.

Villa (21-1, 7 KOs), of Salinas, California, is one of two fighters to beat Lopez, who later won the IBF featherweight title he was set to defend against Gonzalez. The 26-year-old Villa won his third straight fight since Emanuel Navarrete (38-1, 31 KOs) beat him by unanimous decision in their 12-round fight for Navarrete’s WBO featherweight title in October 2020

Valdes’ record dropped to 15-4 (7 KOs), but he let Villa know he was in a real fight right until the final bell.

Valdes’ right hand landed barely 1:10 into the eighth round, when Villa also landed several left hands.

A right-left combination made Villa reset his feet late in the seventh round. Several seconds later, however, Villa nailed Valdes with an overhand left that made Valdes cover up.

Villa’s right hook landed to Valdes’ body just after the halfway point of the seventh round.

Valdes landed three right hands in the final 15 seconds of the sixth round. Villa’s straight left stopped Valdes in his tracks just before the midway mark of the sixth round.

Villa’s right to the body connected during a spirited exchange toward the end of the fifth round. Villa drilled Valdes with a straight left that connected with just over 40 seconds to go in the fifth round.

Villa completed a three-punch combination with a right hook that connected with just under 45 seconds to go in the fourth round.

A right-left combination with several seconds left punctuated an impressive third round for Villa. A left-right combination by Villa landed a little less than 1:20 into the third round.

Valdes landed two right hands in exchanges during the final 10 seconds of the second round.

Villa’s right hook snapped back Valdes’ head with about 1:10 to go in the first round. Villa landed a straight left 1:20 into the opening round, when Villa was aggressive.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.