Reigning WBO Oriental featherweight champion Lorenzo “Thunderbolt” Villanueva (21-0, 20 KOs) was supposed to make his first international appearance in the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez WBO welterweight title bout. But due to visa issues, the undefeated KO artist from Midsayap, North Cotabato will have to wait for his shot at international glory.
In a text message to this writer, former North Cotabato Governor Manny Pinol confirmed that Villanueva is having difficulties in securing a P1 Visa and with the schedule that they have, the heavy-handed Filipino prizefighter simply can’t acquire the said document in time.
“Hello Kenneth. Ensoy (Villanueva’s nickname) will not be fighting in Manny’s undercard. There is no more time to get him a P1 visa.” – Governor Pinol’s text message to this writer.
A P1 visa, as defined by the US Immigration, is “a nonimmigrant visa which allows foreign nationals who are athletes,” artists and entertainers to enter into the U.S. for a specific event, competition or performance.”
For more information about P1 visa, click here.
That said, Team Villanueva is still pushing to get the boxer a B1/B2 visa (Business and Tourist) to enable Villanueva to train in the United States. Villanueva has been taken under the tutelage of Freddie Roach, the esteemed boxing trainer and coach of WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao.
Wildcard Boxing Gym, Roach’s boxing training facility, is located in Los Angeles, California and it is vital for the Filipino knockout machine to start his training sessions there as soon as possible. Currently, Villanueva is currently camped in Manila where he continues his training while waiting for his interview at the US Embassy.
Roach met Villanueva when the latter was brought by Pinol to Baguio City during Pacquiao’s recent training camp. Roach was impressed with Villanueva’s power but concluded that the Filipino still has a long way to go.
According to Pinol, they plan to come after the Pacquiao-Marquez trilogy, which suits Villanueva well since Roach will have more time on polishing the crude yet durable Filipino fighter.