Ruben Villa is one of only two opponents who has beaten Luis Alberto Lopez in a professional fight.

Lopez learned from that defeat and went on to win the IBF featherweight title. The Mexican champion defended that belt for the second time Friday night, when he defeated Joet Gonzalez unanimously in a 12-round main event ESPN aired from American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Villa was relegated to a non-televised fight on the Lopez-Gonzalez undercard, but the skillful southpaw hopes Lopez will want a chance to avenge his last loss and pursues a rematch. Villa (21-1, 7 KOs) discussed the possibility of opposing Lopez (29-2, 16 KOs) again after he beat Colombia’s Brandon Valdes by unanimous decision in an eight-round bout Friday night.

“That’s my goal, man,” Villa told “I wanna win a world title. When we fought a few years back, I beat him for one of the WBO international, regional titles. So, I wouldn’t mind giving him a rematch. I’m sure he wants to beat me and get his win back, so I think it’ll be a really exciting fight for me and him in our careers, and for the fans.”

The 26-year-old Villa, of Salinas, California, feels both he and Lopez have improved since Villa topped Lopez by unanimous decision in a 10-rounder that took place in May 2019 in Corona, California.

“I feel my skills were what helped me beat him,” Villa said. “I was a little young at the time. I feel like I’m a lot better now. My confidence is up. I feel like I got a lot smarter, as far as my ring IQ. But I just think it’ll be a really exciting fight for the fans.”

The 30-year-old Lopez is 13-0, including eight knockouts, since Villa beat him. He won the IBF featherweight crown when he upset Josh Warrington (31-2-1, 8 KOs) by majority decision last December 10 at First Direct Arena in Warrington’s hometown of Leeds, England.

“I’m not trying to beat the [Lopez] from a few years ago,” said Villa, who lost a 12-round unanimous decision to Emanuel Navarrete after he defeated Lopez. “I wanna beat a better [Lopez]. He’s gotten better, his confidence is up and, like I said, it would just be a really exciting fight.”

Villa is the IBF’s 11th-ranked contender for Lopez’s championship, one spot in front of Gonzalez (26-4, 15 KOs). He will likely move up in the IBF’s top 15 after his victory over Valdes (15-4, 7 KOs), whom Villa beat by the same score, 78-74, on all three cards.

“I felt good,” Villa said. “He was a tough guy. He kept coming. He was strong throughout the whole fight. I just felt like my angles started dominating him. I was being active and not just doing the same thing. I never wanna do the same thing, so that he could counter me. And I feel like the body shots were taking [a toll] little by little, and after the fourth or fifth round I started picking it up.”

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