Ruben Villa is now rated No. 1 by the WBC in the featherweight division. While he has his eyes set on a title, he also has an even bigger goal and hopes to face Naoya Inoue. 

Villa knows that to win against Inoue, he would need to use everything he has learned from his entire career, both amateur and professional, and he returns to the ring on Saturday against Sulaiman Segawa in a 10-round bout at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.

Since losing a vacant WBO featherweight title fight to Emanuel Navarrete in 2020, Villa (22-1, 7 KOs) has won four straight fights. The 27-year-old from Salinas, California, is eager for a chance at the title that has eluded him. Standing in his way is 33-year-old Segawa (16-4, 6 KOs), who recently lost to undefeated Mirco Cuello but previously had beaten Prince Dzanie and knocked out Misael Lopez.

“He is just another opponent in the way to get to my world title,” Villa told BoxingScene. “I believe I am among the best in the 126 lbs division. I have been doing this for a really long time, and I am just waiting for my moment.”

“I feel like every fight I am in is action-packed, but I do have to keep that up so that the fans would be excited to see me in a world title fight,” Villa added.

Villa faces a conundrum. The WBC featherweight titleholder Rey Vargas retained his title by fighting Nick Ball to a draw in March. Brandon Figueroa is the interim WBC featherweight titleholder, so a consolidation bout is likely before Villa gets a title shot.

When asked if he would like to fight Inoue in the future, Villa wasted no time in saying: “Hell yeah!”

“You would have to break him mentally. He is obviously too strong; you can’t sit there and try to fight with him. I feel like I would have to use every skill I have to beat Inoue. He is badass – I would need everything in that fight.”

Villa also reflected on his only loss, which happened nearly four years ago, to Navarrete.

“It was just real awkward,” Villa said of Navarrete’s style. “That weird uppercut jab coming from his knee was weird – I didn’t see it.”

That punch made the difference in the fight, causing Villa to go down twice and lose a unanimous decision to the three-division world titleholder.

“I fought one of the best featherweights, at least,” Villa reflected on his fight with Navarrete. “What makes him good is how awkward he is. It works for him; it is hard to train for.”