Featherweight contender Ruben Villa is looking for a performance that merits a roar – or a quake. Not unlike the one he will receive on May 4 as he has been invited, along with many other celebrities, to attend the Cinco De Mayo celebration from Levi’s stadium, where the San Jose Earthquakes take on the LA Galaxy. 

Salinas, California native Villa will be eager to return to the ring in a 10-round fight against Cristian Cruz Chacon at the American Bank Center, Corpus Christi, Texas on Saturday, April 13. 

Villa (21-1, 7 KOs) smiled when mentioning the Earthquakes inviting him to a high-profile game. His smile also showed his teeth or should one say fangs, which leads to his nickname “Drac”. Which is short for Dracula. It is a smile his opponent  Cruz Chacon (22-6-2, 11 KOs) doesn’t want to see come fight night. 

Villa holds a win over current IBF featherweight champion Luis Alberto Lopez. They fought on ShoBox: The Next Generation, with no title on the line. He had a fierce amateur rivalry with Shakur Stevenson and the two duked it out at the Olympic Trials with Stevenson besting him and going to the 2016 games. Stevenson grew, Villa often likes to joke that he didn’t. 

“It is an honor to be invited to attend the San Jose Earthquakes game on Cinco De Mayo – and I want to have a performance on Saturday that lives up to the expectation of me being an athlete in attendance,” Villa told BoxingScene after his final workout. 

One of Villa’s key inspirations on the San Jose Earthquakes is Emmanuel Ochoa, better known as Emi Ochoa, who is from Salinas, Calif. 

“It’s great to see a fellow Salinas native doing great things, being a great example at a high level for our city,” said Villa. “I’ll be there to root for him and the Quakes on May 4.”

The Earthquakes have deeper ties to Salinas. They have helped renovate the Salinas Regional Soccer Complex and they worked with Kaiser Permanente on the Earthquakes Fit program to keep kids active. The Quakes might be a San Jose-based franchise, but have strong roots in Salinas – where Villa was born and raised – and his hope is to bring a belt back to the community he cares about. 

Villa is on a three-fight win streak since his lone career loss to Emanuel Navarrete in 2020. Villa signed with Top Rank in April 2023 and now he is waiting to see if he can land his coveted title shot, which looms large.

Salinas has never had a world champion. That is something Villa wants to change. He is currently ranked No. 2 by the WBC, and hopes victory will put him in line for a shot at a belt. The WBC featherweight champion is Rey Vargas, who drew with Nick Ball last time out. 

“I know it isn’t just if I win, but how I win,” said Villa. “I am trying to go out there and have performances that get the fans excited – get them passionate to see me against the top fighters. I am going to put on a world title performance even though this isn’t a world title fight.

“To get the part, you have to look the part. On Saturday, I am going to look the part of a world champion.”