By: Matthew N. Becher
Premier Boxing Champions is beginning to bring a close to their inaugural year by staging a Jr. Welterweight showdown on NBC, this Saturday from the AT&T center in San Antonio, Texas.
The Co-Main event that was originally scheduled between heavyweight prospects Dominic Breazeale and Charles Martin, has since been changed, since Martin will be fighting for the newly vacant IBF Heavyweight championship in early 2016.
In the new Co-Main event veteran heavyweight contender Chris Arreola (36-4-1 31KO) will look to right the ship one last time or possibly call it a career against 30 year old journeyman Travis Kauffman (30-1 22KO). Arreola has been on a rough patch as of late, going 2-2-1 in his last five fights. Arreola, who has fought for the WBC heavyweight championship twice, will need to show an impressive win if he would like to continue his career in the world of boxing. He has faced and beaten much tougher competition then his opponent Kauffman, who at 30 has yet to face a fighter, the same caliber of Arreola.
The main event is between two former world titlist. One of youth and one of experience. Omar Figueroa Jr. (25-0-1 18KO) is only 25 years old, but has already won the WBC lightweight title, and has since moved up to Jr. Welterweight. A tough nose brawler, Figueroa has faced some very tough competition, winning a unanimous decision over Ricky Burns in September 2015 and going to war with Nihito Arakawa in 2013, in the Fight of the year. Standing in his way of solidifying himself in the 140lb division is the newly anointed gatekeeper. Antonio DeMarco (31-5-1 23KO) is only 29, but in boxing years he is much older. DeMarco, the former WBC Lightweight champion is also a come forward, punch for punch brawler. After losing back to back fights to Jessie Vargas and Rances Barthelemy, it was thought that DeMarco would hang up his gloves and call it a career. But he is back to give it one more chance in the Jr. Welterweight division. Besides mixing it up with those fighters, DeMarco has also been in the ring with the likes of Adrien Broner, John Molina, Jorge Linares and even the late, great Edwin Valero.
DeMarco certainly has the edge in experience, but will need to dig deeper than he has in the past to get by a young and hungry champion like Figueroa. Look for neither fighter to step back and both to try and position themselves as the alpha puncher. This will not be a fight of finesse, but more like a boxing match in a phone booth.
Media Day Quotes:
“Training camp has been phenomenal. I don’t think it could have gone any better. Considering everything I’ve been through this year, it’s such a breath of fresh air to be able to actually train and train to my fullest.
“I think I’m definitely getting better. We never stop improving and if we do, that’s when our careers end. We always try to learn and see what we can do better and where we can progress. It’s a journey that we’re not even halfway through.
“I don’t think I had the best performance against Ricky Burns in May. Considering I had a fractured hand through camp, I couldn’t really train in camp. I beat a former world champion and I did it without training as much as I’d like.
“To me, a fight is a fight. I enjoy fighting. I love being in the ring. I’m excited for it. I can’t wait. I just want to perform and see how I feel.
“I think Antonio DeMarco is a perfect fit for my style. He’s really tough but he has flaws. He leaves the body open and that’s something I think we can exploit. If all goes to plan, we’ll come out victorious.”
“I’m coming back for the love of the sport. I want to show everybody that has wrote me off, that I’m still here and dangerous. They’re going to eat their words Sunday morning.
“I had previously retired due to personal reasons, but boxing is such a big part of my life. It brought me out of the streets and given my family a good life. I’ve been able to help my sister who has battled cancer but is now healthy. I couldn’t leave a sport that has helped so many people.
“I’m back with my old trainer, who has helped me reach the best moments of my career. Romulo Quirarte and I are working hard to get back to that level.
“I have a lot of respect for Omar. He’s undefeated and he’s done some really good things in this sport. It’s a hard fight, but it’s a hard fight for both of us. It’s not going to be easy for Omar.
“I want the fans to see a great fight. It’s going to be a war. Two Mexicans, with Mexican blood is always a great fight. I’ve trained for a war and I’ll show everyone that I’m ready when I step into that ring.”
“Training camp went great. We had a good nine or 10 weeks of camp with a diverse group of sparring partners. I actually dropped about 10 pounds so I feel strong and healthy.
“It’s huge to finish up the year on NBC at the AT&T Center. I couldn’t ask for much more.
“I’m looking forward to fighting for belts. Line them up. I want to fight top 10, top 5 guys consistently. Let’s get it done.
“I’ve worked really hard on correcting flaws and improving at my craft. As a fighter you that’s what you want to do. I always ask to be tested and that’s what I’m looking forward to.”
“I know I have a tough test in front of me. My opponent has a lot of amateur experience and he’s been a good pro. I have to make this one count. You never know when it’s going to be your last chance.
“I looked bad in my last two fights and you’re only as good as your last fight. I think my opponent sees me as a fighter on his way down and that fires me up. He’s going to wish he never fought me.
“I’ve always thought of myself as an elite fighter. My main concern is Travis Kauffman. I have to beat him convincingly. I need to beat him to the point where everyone wants me to fight for a title. I want to earn my title shot.
“This is the beginning to a title run. I want to cement myself as a top heavyweight in the world. I’m a heavyweight to be reckoned with and I’m going to prove that to everyone. I need this fight for my career.”
“I’ve had my ups and my downs, but I just want to out there and entertain the fans again. I don’t think fans have ever been disappointed in how much action there is when I fight.
“My prime is still here. I’m going to take full advantage of it. The Hollywood scene is cool, it doesn’t hurt as bad, but I prefer being a world champion. I want to get back to that level.
“I’ve been pushing myself the whole camp. I’m just here to put in the work. We’re ready to go put on a show. I know my opponent is going to come hungry and I’m ready.
“I’ve made big changes to my career and I think it’ll be for the better. I hope everyone tunes in. I’m ready to go to war.”
“Finishing up the year with a fight like this in my hometown, it’s the best thing I could ask for. I’m excited to be back home fighting in front of family and friends.
“I’ve improved greatly as a fighter this year. I’ve learned a lot about how to maintain composure in the ring. These are things that I’ve been able to gain with experience. I want to stay active and keep getting better.
“Training camp has been great. We went out to Houston for a week of our training to work with Miguel Flores and came back last week to finish up in San Antonio. I feel strong and ready to put on a great show Saturday.
“I feel really good. My team and I have been doing things rights and I’m ready to get in the ring December 12.
“My first fight was also on a big show with my brother headlining. I’m not saying I’m used to it. But I’m not really an emotional person so I won’t get fazed by the stage.
“I’m happy to be part of this show. There are so many great fighters and it’s a blessing to be part of this event.
“My brother and I both like to brawl and give fans a show, but I’d say I’m a more technical fighter. I like to keep my distance. When it comes down to throwing punches and trading, that’s what we like to do.
“My opponent is taller than my past opponents and he has some amateur experience. I’m going to try to box him, stay on the outside and hurt him with body shots.”