By: Robert Contreras
The sooner Brandon Figueroa (20-0, 15 KO) ended this one, the better. His challenger, by the name of Javier Nicolas Chacon (20-5-1, 9 KO), did not even have real boxing shoes on, opting to wear sneakers in a world title fight.
The partisan crowd did not mind. A short drive from Figueroa’s hometown, bordering Mexico and Texas, the defending champion was met with cheers when he pounded away at his overmatched opponent, ending the fight in the sixth round with a barrage of punches along the ropes.
Chacon, 38, added to the career the WBA has manufacture for him. His TKO loss to Figueroa represented the third title opportunity for the Argentinian veteran (now boasting a record of 0-3), each under the WBA. This one his worst yet.
Figueroa, 22, used his larger frame to leverage punches into Chacon, who was complacent to stand behind his raised gloves, and hardly throw a punch. The defending champ—the youngest in boxing today—was seemingly on stage by himself at times, landing more punches than Chacon threw. Figueroa ’s punches drilled Chacon, his uppercuts shined brightest, doing the most damage.
In the opening round, Figueroa switched stances back and forth. In Round 2, there was just no need. He pounded Chacon into the ropes—in no danger of return fire—and interchanged right and left hooks to set up left uppercuts. So immobile was Chacon when referee Rafael Ramos stepped in to tell Figueroa to raise his punches, the visiting fighter was ready to protest a stoppage. That alone convinced the Argentinian to swing away in the final couple seconds of the period. But with Figueroa nowhere in sight, he was just pushing air around.
Punches continued to lay into Chacon in the third stanza. A Figueroa jab was followed by overhand lefts and consecutive left hooks. As in most of his fights, Figueroa was building a wide lead in punches thrown. By the end of the beating, he would connect on 96 of his 297 total punches (32 percent). Chacon landed 18 of a paltry 69 punches thrown (26 percent).
Chacon continued to enjoy the best seat in the house to open the fourth inning: standing in front of Figueroa, hiding behind his gloves, daydreaming about cashing his check from the WBA. Finally with 80 seconds left, the champion punched Chacon back into the ropes, pressed his weight into him, and struck the challenger with a quick succession of right hands, slashing a right hand into his chin and then a right hook that visibly shook him up. His body blenched into an unstable condition.
There is when Figueroa poured on some eight unanswered punches that took his man’s feet out from under him. On all fours, Chacon tried to rise, but collapsed back down to earth—reduced to dust. Ramos waved things off, hopefully ending the WBA patsy’s stint at the championship level.
On fighting back in his hometown, Figueroa said he couldn’t write it better.
“It was one of the best moments of my life,” Figueroa said. “Fighting in front of my family and friends. These are my people.”
Figueroa cannot fight in Texas forever if he hopes to shed his interim title status. The WBA’s other champion Daniel Roman for example is in California. And so too with be a real fighter in real boxing boots.
Stephen Fulton (17-0, 8 KO) def. Isaac Avelar (16-1, 10 KO) by sixth-round TKO
Fulton was eager to extend his undefeated record, patiently nicking away at his opponent, making small incisions until finally Alevar cam unstuck in the sixth period from a devastating body blow.
The fight belonged the Fulton from the beginning. Th bell sounded and Avelar tossed out a lazy southpaw jab; Fulton quickly answered with a chopping left over the top. Jabs soon began to pour in from Fulton.
Over the next couple rounds, Fulton complimented his metronome jab with crisp straight right hands. Comfortable enough, he didn’t even bother circling away from Avelar’s strong left hand. When the Mexican brawler would look to string together punches, a rhythm-breaking jab would foil any hope of offense.
Fulton continually held his hands low, momentum securely in his corner. He also continued to split the guard of Avelar, who would go long stretches without landing much and had blood drawn from his right eye to show for it.
Avelar did his best to drive forward in the fourth round. But there was more jabbing and jabbing from Fulton fighting in reverse. Fulton was now not only throwing crosses off his jab but also pitching overhands. Avelar’s pressure remained uncreative as ever, watching stiff jabs repeatedly poke him between the eyes.
In the sixth, Avelar drifted backward toward the ropes, overwhelmed by the moment, odds, and fate pressing against him. An overhand right from Fulton raised Avelar’s perspective and a digging left hand plugged into his midsection. With the sticky left hand—sinking into Avelar’s liver—a grimace filled his face, and with his defenses down, another punch left him no choice but to take a knee and soon counted out.
According to the punch stats, Fulton landed 75 of 286 total punches (26 percent) and Avelar connected on 53 of 265 punches (20 percent).
In the post-fight interview, Fulton was beaming with confidence: “That’s the sixth undefeated fighter that came up short against me.” When asked about fighting Figueroa, he said, “I want all belthodlers. But we been supposed to fight anyway.”
Currently ranked Top 15 in the world by the WBA, Fulton has won every fight of his pro career and over his previous three fights picked up two stoppage victories.
By: William Holmes
The MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada was the host site for tonight’s Pay Per View (PPV) Offering by Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions (PBC).
The attendance in the arena was still sparse as the televised portion of the pay per view started. A portion of the undercard was televised on Fox and featured a stoppage win by Caleb Plant over Irish Mike Lee.
The opening bout of the pay per view was between Juan Carlos Payano (21-2) and Luis Nery (29-0) in the bantamweight division.
Both boxers fought out of a southpaw stance, and Payano was winning the early rounds and nearly doubled the output of Nery. Nery was short with his punches going into the third round, but had a strong fourth round and appeared to be gaining confidence.
Nery continued to stalk Payano in the middle rounds and remained the aggressor. Payano was still landing some good shots, but Nery did not appear to be bothered by the punches of Payano.
Nery turned the punch output in his favor by the seventh round and landed some hard blows on Payano by the ropes. Nery continued to land the harder punches and keep Payano on the defensive in the eighth round.
The end of the fight came in the ninth round when Nery landed a left hook to the body that crumbled Payano. Payano was unable to get up by the count of ten and Nery scored an impressive body shot knockout.
Nery wins by knockout at 1:43 of the ninth round.
The next bout was between Sergey Lipinets (15-1) and last minute replacement Jayar Inson (18-2) in the welterweight division.
Lipinets was preparing to face John Molina Jr., but he pulled out three days ago and Lipinets had to adjust his strategy for a southpaw on short notice.
Inson landed two straight lefts early in the first round, but that may have been the only clean punches he landed in the entire night.
Lipinets applied pressure in the opening round and continued that pressure into the second round. Lipinets landed a beautiful left hook on Inson that sent him falling flat on his face.
Inson got up before the count of ten, but he looked to be in bad shape and the referee waived off the fight.
Lipinets wins by TKO at 0:57 of the second round.
The final fight on the undercard was between Yordenis Ugas (23-4) and Omar Figueroa Jr. (28-0-1) in the welterweight division.
Ugas started off strong and crisp counters on the forward moving Figueroa. Ugas scored a knockdown when a punch from him knocked Figueroa backwards with only the ropes to keep him up, scoring Ugas a knockdown.
Ugas continued to land heavy body shots on Figueroa in the second round, and was able to wither the pressure of Figueroa. Ugas out muscled Figueroa, and by the fourth round had outlanded him 62-42. Figueroa had a cut above his eye checked out by the doctor but was allowed to continue.
Ugas lost a point in the fifth round for holding onto Figueroa, and Figueroa had a better round. But Ugas was able to land some hard straight right hands on Figueroa when his back was against the corner in the sixth and reclaim momentum of the fight.
Ugas had an effective body attack in the seventh and eighth rounds, but was warned for a low blow in the eighth.
Figueroa simply was not able to mount an effective offense in the ninth and tenth rounds, as Ugas had him time countered.
Ugas wins the decision with scores of 119-107 on all three scorecards.
Over in Ontario, California – around 35 miles east of Los Angeles – Victor Ortiz and John Molina were meant to be facing off over the course of a scheduled 12 rounds with both men looking for one final crack at the big time. That was until Ortiz got himself in a spot of bother with the police, having handed himself in on charges of sexual assault – a wholly serious affair – promoter Tom Brown was forced to bump Brandon Figueroa vs Oscar Escandon to main event with The Hearbreaker, Figueroa, looking to move 17 and 0 against the gritty Colombian and former world title challenger.
Flying high as a professional, Brandon Figueroa was seeking to claim the biggest scalp of his career in the form of Oscar Escandon and with a streak of three successive knockouts, he certainly fancied his chances pre-fight of getting the job done within the scheduled 10 rounds.
Figueroa stood firm at the centre of the ring, statuesque for the first thirty seconds before resting on the shoulder of Escandon and working the inside pockets, getting big shots his Colombian opponent along with the occasional swift overhand.
Escandon looked to push the case for himself and extended his jab frequently, looking busy and fresh with his work but landing nothing of particular substance. Figueroa, on the other hand, was landing the more noticeable shots with a cracking straight left landing flush to the face of his opponent.
Fighting in the light blue shorts, Figueroa took a heavy tumble in the second – and a tumble, only – and sought to double up on the jab as he switched stances periodically. A real tussle emerged on the ropes with both men firing across the horizon, Escandon tagged the younger boxer with a god body shot to bring a wry smile from the face of Figueroa.
A real postage stamp fight over the opening third of the fight, both men were mixing it with good shots of their own but it was the younger fighter that, perhaps predictably, was showing the better energy and landed a couple of solid left hooks to keep Escandon in check.
Escandon was seeking to echo the plan of Figueroa in working on the inside and wearing down the body and whilst he was finding moderate success, it was hard to claim he was winning the fight.
Cut above the left eye, it made no difference to the strategy and confidence of Figueroa who snapped in and out of range from his counterpart but remained ever constant with accurate jabs and crisp left hand shots.
Round 5 of a scheduled 10 saw the fight from a little more with Figueroa starting to dictate the pace of the bout to greater effectiveness, good left hooks from the body saw Escandon visibly slow in his movements but he kept firing shots into his opponent – showing plenty of guts.
Figueroa snapped back immediately, hurting his man but chose not to follow up in pursuit of a stoppage and the rhythm continued into the latter half of the fight with both men finding pockets of success throughout each fight but Figueroa controlling much of the bout with his superior work-rate and more vicious punch intention.
Just when the bout looked destined for a routine points victory, Figueroa wound up and landed a flush right uppercut to the chin of his man to send his to the canvas in an instant – Escandon tried to get back up but only collapsed back, a sickening punch and a mesmerising knockout. Job done for Brandon Figueroa.
Joe Joyce, the British protagonist, was making his Stateside debut against Iago Kiladze, the Georgian Grizzly Bear, with the Juggernaut seeking to make an immediate splash over in America.
Up against Kiladze this fight was always going to be a “Joe Joyce showcase” with there being very little genuine hope of Kiladze springing an upset but the former cruiserweight prospect is known for his ability to make situations difficult so it was pertinent that Joyce stuck to the fundamentals that have seen him go to 5 and 0 in the space of a year and claim the Commonwealth title along the way.
The arts graduate from Putney, London, was punching downwards against a smaller opponent but Kiladze scampered across the ring during the early phases, skipping his way along the ropes on his toes and evading the awkward limbs of Joyce.
With eyes set on his Georgian counterpart in a manner akin to a bird of prey, Joyce never looked anything but focussed and mirrored Kiladze’s movement to an inch, Joyce began to target the body and, as he did, Kiladze threw back some adventurous shots of his own.
Into the second round we moved and a huge hook, seemingly from nowhere, sent Kiladze to the canvas with an audible thud. Sensing the stoppage was near, Joyce continued to pepper the body of his more experienced opponent, sinking his hands into the ribcage of Kiladze.
Kiladze, beginning to look worse for wear, seemed now to stagger as opposed to scamper and a left hook followed by a right and another left to the head of Kiladze saw his head bobble around like a ship in a stormy sea – the scarlet red face of Kiladze was a testament to the power that Joyce possesses.
The British heavyweight began to loosen up as the fight progressed and towards the end of a, relatively dull, third round, he exploded into the body of Kiladze – who was on the ropes – twisting the full power of his torso into the shots and dropping the Georgian to the canvas for a second time.
For the third time in the fight Kiladze hit the floor, in the fifth round, with a shot that, actually, was just a tentative, pawing jab from the big Putney man but it was enough, he’d had enough and returned to his corner, to secure Joe Joyce a 6th win and his 6th by knockout.
In the opening heavyweight bout of the evening Efe Ajagba (6-0, 5KOs) took on a fellow unbeaten professional in Nick Jones (7-0, 5KOs) with the 2016 Olympian hoping to get a stiffer contest than his, now infamous, one second bout versus Curtis Harper back in August.
Standing 6foot 5inches tall, Ajagba came into the ring looking like a figure sculpted from clay, impeccably formed and he led with a rangy, reaching left jab before landing some big right hands early on to signal his intentions from the off.
Looking patient from the centre of the ring Ajagba was in clear control even from the immediate offerings and Jones began to soak shots up almost instantaneously, several clubbing rights landing to the temple of Jones with those snapping hands of Ajagba breaking Jones’ guard with an alarming frequency.
With Jones ignoring the warning signs, Ajagba barely even flicked up a gear as he pieced together the punches with ease, throwing a soft left jab to tee up a crunchy nut of a right hook, snapping the neck of his counterpart back to send him crumpling to the canvas. A first round stoppage for Efe Ajagba within two minutes of the bell – the 24 year old moves to 7 and 0 with five of those victories now coming in the opening round.
Earlier on in the evening Jesse Rodriguez advanced his unbeaten record to seven without defeat when he issued Ediwn Reyes with an eight round shellacking, the scorecards were 80-72, 80-72 and 79-73, whilst Stephen Fulton dazzled over the course of eight rounds against, 102 fight veteran, German Meraz with some hard-hitting body shots and impressive hand speed – the scores for that contest were 80-71 across the board as Fulton moves to 14 and 0.
Brandon Figueroa lived up to his name, breaking the heart of Escandon but the real story of the night was Joe Joyce who lived up to expectations and moves on to December 1st, the undercard of Wilder-Fury, with both Luis Ortiz and Gerald Washington as rumoured opponents.
The world awaits!
By: Oliver McManus
*The main event featuring Victor Ortiz has been cancelled as of 9/27/18.
Joe ‘Juggernaut’ Joyce touches down on US soil at the weekend as he looks to continue his rocketing rise up the rankings against Iago Kiladze over eight rounds. The card itself is headlined by a 12 round welterweight contest between Victor Ortiz and John Molina Jr with the pair, who’s combined ages hit 66, looking for one final crack at the jackpot.
Truth be told, both gentleman look as though their best days are behind them but you suspect Ortiz will come into it the more confident with the ever brash 31 year old having held talks to fight Brandon Rios earlier in the year – Ortiz admits that he will be throwing fire from the very off, those are his intentions anyway, and the 12 rounds he shared with Devon Alexander, whilst not of any particularly notable quality, will stand him in good stead.
Photo Credit:PBC Twitter Account
Molina is in his second contest since a brutal, one-sided demolition loss to Terence Crawford – a fight that saw him knocked out in the eighth round – and that initial comeback fight, against Ivan Redkach, was far from impressive. A reckless fight, Molina was dropped before sending his counterpart to the canvas twice to claim a fourth round stoppage but that was a result that flattered to deceive.
These two know that, with all due respect, they are fairly inconsequential names in the welterweight division as it stands with no major draw for those at the top, if they are to get back into the mix where they are even being TALKED about in the same sentence as Amir Khan, Manny Pacuqiao and so on then they need to pull it out of the bag and send a statement come Sunday night.
Joe Joyce will be in his sixth paid contest and goes up against the ‘Georgian Grizzly Bear’ in Iago Kiladze. Once hailed as a prospect to watch in the cruiserweight division – some eight years back – Kiladze returned to the ring in 2017 as a heavyweight, following a two year absence, and since then has racked up wins against Byron Polley and Pedro Rodriguez before becoming the prey against Adam Kownacki and Michael Hunter.
Both those defeats came this year – January and June, respectively – and the odds are stacked firmly against him this time around. He’ll give it a go, though, he always does but this fight is more about getting Joyce the American exposure that Ringstar crave so desperately.
In a career filled with late replacements and disappointing opponents, this is the 2nd best foe that Joyce has looked to slay thus far and with a combined 13 rounds under his belt – an average 2.6 per contest – it wouldn’t do him harm to get some rounds under his belt.
Bring on that Putney-Mexican hybrid style of dancing after the fight because Joyce looks certain to win unless Kiladze can produce a colossal upset.
Also in the heavyweight division is Efe Ajagba who will be hoping to get more of a challenge than he did last time out – Curtis Harper, that’s all that needs to be said – and he shares the ring with, also unbeaten, Nick Jones over the course of scheduled six rounds.
Brandon The Heartbreaker Figueroa will look to continue his impressive development by adding Oscar Escandon to a CV already 16 names long – his last three fights have seen him emerge victorious thanks to a knockout and it seems that, as the 21 year old goes through the motions, he’s really growing into his man power and that’s not meant in a disrespectful way but his body is still filling out and if you look at the 3, 4lbs that he’s put – on the scales – over the past couple years then you start to understand where that extra power is coming from.
Escandon, vastly experienced, is looking to cause an upset and resurrect his career which is currently on a drastically downward spiral having lost three of his last four and the last two back to back – against Gary Russel Jr and Tugstsogt Nyambayar. Neither are opponents to sniff at, by no means, but you get the impression that Escandon is becoming a bit of a gatekeeper for these up and coming prospects to get a name on their resumé.
Two ageing sluggers, a James DeGale hoping to look as good as he did four years ago, 11 unbeaten prospects – Figueroa, Joyce, Davies, Ajagba, to name four – and a debutant. Sunday night on FOX Sports 1 delivers it all and it is set to be a stonker.
PBC on Fox Results: Omar Figueroa, Jr., Marcus Browne & Adam Kownaci Win at Nassau Coliseum
By: Ken Hissner
PBC on FOX Network featured 3 major fights at Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY, Saturday.
In the main event returning after 19 months former champion now at welterweight Omar “Panterita” Figueroa, Jr., 27-0-1 (19), of Weslaco, TX, returning after 11 months stopped southpaw former champion Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero, 33-6-1 (18), of Gilroy, CA, at 1:30 of the second round.
In the opening round Guerrero won the inside fighting over slow starting Figueroa. In the second round Figueroa hurt Guerrero with a left uppercut to the chin. Seconds later Figueroa dropped Guerrero who came back strong only to be dropped again with a short right uppercut to the chin. In the third round Figueroa twice dropped Guerrero forcing referee Ron Lipton to halt the fight. The second knockdown was a questionable border line punch.
“We followed the game plan especially the right uppercut. The fun part of boxing is that he came fighting back between knockdowns. I want to fight at 140 in the future,” said Figueroa. It was an action packed fight.
In the co-feature light heavyweight 2012 Olympian southpaw “Sir” Marcus Browne, 20-0 (15), of Staten Island, NY, halted Seanie Monaghan, 28-1 (17), of Long Beach, NY, at 1:40 of the second round.
In the opening round after 40 seconds a lead left from Browne on the forehead of Monaghan dropped him. Being over anxious Browne landed a slightly low left hook punch giving Monaghan several minutes to re-coup. Browne had his jab continuously in the face of Monaghan. In the second round a solid right hook from Browne to the head started a dozen unanswered punches to the head and body of Monaghan who was up against the ropes defenseless forcing referee Steve Willis to halt the fight.
“I had to do what I had to do. Start with the jab and follow up with the rest. I started with the jab and landed a right hook. I want to thank God for keeping us safe along with Al Haymon. I want to fight Adonis Stevenson next and bring the belt back to New York”, said Browne. It was an ill advised fight for the Monaghan camp to take. He was a easy target setting up Monaghan with his jab and the rest is history.
Heavyweight southpaw Artur “SzpilaThe Pin” Szpilka, 20-3 (15), of Wieliczka, POL and Houston, TX, was stopped at 1:30 of the fourth round by Adam “Baby Face” Kownaci, 16-0 (13), of Lomza, POL, and Brooklyn, NY.
In the first two rounds Kownaci landed the harder and a much larger amount of punches while Szpilka was on the defense though had a bit more hand speed. Kownaci used his lead right well. In the third round Kownaci continues to force the action. A solid left hook .from Kownaci to the ribs of Szpilka got his attention with 20 seconds left in the round. In the fourth round Kownaci dropped Szpilka with a right, left right to the head. Kownaci jumped on Szpilka who had his arms to his side and taking four solid punches to the head starting with a right from Kownaci having Szpilka defenseless forcing referee Arthur Mercante, Jr. to call a halt.
Omar Figueroa has a Face That Lies
by B.A. Cass
In December of 2012, Golden Boy Promotions called up Omar Figueroa Jr.’s dad to say they had a fight for his son. After his dad got off the phone, he came up to Figueroa Jr. and said, “Guess what?” He looked scared, genuinely scared. “Guess who they want you to fight?”
“Who?” Figueroa Jr. said.
“Remember that kid I told you about?”
Figueroa Jr. remembered all right, mainly because his dad was constantly talking up Michael Perez, the Puerto Rican prospect. He liked the way Perez fought and wished his son could fight more like that. On occasion, he would even compare Perez’s artistry in the ring to Michelangelo.
“So what do you think?” his dad said.
“What do you mean, ‘what do I think’?”
“Well, would you fight him?
“Why the hell not?”
“I believe you can,” his dad told him.“But that’s a tough fight. You haven’t really been training.”
Technically, Figueroa had been training. But he had just celebrated his 23rdbirthday, and he was also going out at night and having a goodtime. Figueroa’s dad, who was his trainer at the time, believed in his son’s abilities but was concerned about his conditioning. Add on to this the fact that the proposed fight with Perez was slated for January 6th, only several weeks away.
“Let’s take it,” Figueroa Jr. said. It sounded like a bad ass fight to him.
So Omar Figueroa Sr. called Golden Boy back and then he reached out to Perez’s camp, who used an intermediary to make sure that Figueroa Jr. knew who he was going up against. “They want to make sure that you’re sure about taking the fight,” the intermediary said. “Does Omar know who Perez is?”
The answer was obvious. After all, as Figueroa Jr. says now, “I knew because my dad had been on his nut for the past year.”
“Well, you know, they just want to make sure you knew who he was. They figured you took the fight because you weren’t sure who he was.”
That’s when his father realized the Perez team was just fucking with them. And once the fight was arranged, he said to his son, “Alright, now you got to kick his ass.”
“Yeah, I know,” Figueroa Jr. said. “I’m gonna fuck him up.”
Long before the fight with Perez, Figueroa Jr. had been looking for a place to train because he and his dad weren’t getting along at all. That’s how Joel Diaz came into the picture. Golden Boy Promotions showed Diaz a video of one of Figueroa Jr.’s fights and asked if he would help prepare him. At that time, Diaz was training a couple of young kids who were tough professional fighters. And when he saw those videos of Figueroa Jr., Diaz recalls thinking, “Eh, any of my boys will beat him. I don’t see anything special about him.” But he agreed to meet with them anyway.
And so, two days before Christmas, father and son traveled from Weslaco, their small Texas town on the border of Mexico, and joined Joel Diaz at his training camp in Indio, California. “I’ll never forget it because I still talk about it today,” recalls Diaz. “He came to the gym, and I started working with him. Wow, was I wrong. He has a style that really works for him. He’s very explosive; he has a lot of power, he can hit. From that point on, I was like, OK, I can work with him.” Diaz prepared Figueroa Jr. for a tough fight against Perez, which to the surprise of many he won when Perez’s corner threw in the towel after the 6th round.
According to Diaz, his relationship Figueroa Jr. got better every time, every fight. But in 2014, Figueroa Jr. decided to resume training in Texas with his dad so he could live close to family. A lot has been made of that decision and even more has been made of his year and a half hiatus from the sport. After all, it’s uncommon for such a young fighter to take so much time off. But it wasn’t simply the injuries that forced him to take a break. “I’d been dragging,” Figueroa explains. “It got to the point where I was kind of annoyed. I was starting to dislike what I was doing. I attribute that to the injuries I was having because they weren’t letting me enjoy my job. I mean not being able to train, missing weight, knowing that I wasn’t a hundred percent going into the ring with these guys, it weighed heavily on me. Mentally I was in a very bad place.”
Omar Figueroa Jr.’s last professional fight occurred in 2015 when he faced Antonio Demarco, a fight he won by unanimous decision. For much of the fight, Figueroa overwhelmed his opponent. In the first two rounds alone, Figueroa Jr. threw close to 300 punches. And it took until the end of the 3rd round for DeMarco to finally let his hands go. That’s when he caught Figueroa Jr. with a solid right hook. Figueroa Jr. stepped back and, before coming back in with his left hand, he paused a moment and smiled. We all know boxers taunt each other with their smiles, often using their smile to cover up the fact that a punch has landed and they’ve been hurt. But Figueroa Jr.’s smile wasn’t like that. His smile seemed remarkably innocent, like he was happy, if not just a bit surprised, that a real fight was starting up. Here was a young man who looked like he was having fun.
Figueroa Jr. makes his long-anticipated return to the ring this Saturday in a fight against Robert Guerrero at the Nassau Coliseum in Unionville, Long Island. Guerrero’s been dismissed by many as a fading fighter clearly past his prime, a fighter who has lost four out of his last six fights. Still, Figueroa isn’t taking him for granted and is prepared for a hard ten rounds. “Knowing I’m getting into the ring with someone like Guerrero, it brings the nerves back, a little bit, being out so long,” Figueroa says. “And I know it’s not an easy fight at all. It brings the nerves back, and I miss that feeling.”
Figueroa Jr. might strike some as being too polite to be a fighter—and perhaps a bit too nice looking. Joel Diaz, who has again come on board as his trainer, is the first to admit that his champion has a baby face. “You see the face of Omar Figueroa and you don’t think he has the heart that he has. His face is not suitable for his heart. It’s very deceptive. But he’s never been dropped. The more you hit him, the more he’s on you.” Anyone who has seen Figueroa Jr. fight knows that this is true.
Can we expect to see anything different from Figueroa Jr? Aside from feeling healthy, strong, and rested, Diaz doesn’t think so. “Omar’s never going to change,” Diaz says. “He’s never going to change his style of fighting. His strategy’s never going to change. He’s always going to be the same.” However, Figueroa Jr. believes his time away from boxing has matured him as a fighter. And Diaz admits he’s been working with Figueroa to improve his defense, so we perhaps we’ll get a glimpse of a smarter Figueroa Jr. on Saturday night.
The Figueroa Jr. vs. Guerrero fight might not be the match up of the year, but it will be fun to watch.As Diaz says, “Styles makes fights.” And the style of both these fights is not going to leave room for a lot of space. Diaz doesn’t expecteitherfighter to go back. “They’re both going to be in the ring and crash on the inside,” he says. “They’ll exchange in the middle of the ring from the beginning bell to the end.”
Boxing Insider Notebook: Figueroa, Guerrero, Shields, Caballero, Negrete, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of May 23rd to May 30th, covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Former World Champions Omar Figueroa and Robert Guerrero to Meet in Welterweight Brawl
A matchup between exciting former world champions Omar “Panterita” Figueroa (26-0-1, 18 KOs) and Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero (33-5-1, 18 KOs) headlines an action-packed night of Premier Boxing Champions on FOX and FOX Deportes on Saturday, July 15 in the first boxing event at the newly-renovated NYCB LIVE, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Televised coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT from the first boxing event at the Coliseum since Mike Tyson headlined in 1986.
“I’m looking forward to getting back in the ring and showing fans what I’m known for – exciting fights,” said Figueroa. “I’ve been quietly training and preparing in Indo, California with Joel Diaz and now it’s time. I’m looking forward to a great fight with Robert Guerrero on July 15 in front of a New York crowd. I can’t wait to show everyone at the Coliseum and on FOX and FOX Deportes what ‘Panterita’ is all about.”
“Both me and Omar Figueroa like to bang on the inside, which should make for great entertainment, but Omar is going to find out on July 15 that he’s facing a man who has his back against the wall and is going to leave everything in the ring,” said Guerrero. “I’m going to give the millions who’ll be watching on FOX and FOX Deportes a fight to remember. This is going to be a classic Mexican war and I’m coming out on top.”
The FOX and FOX Deportes broadcast will see unbeaten contender “Sir” Marcus Browne (19-0, 14 KOs) battling undefeated Long Island native and fan favorite Seanie Monaghan (28-0, 17 KOs) in a light heavyweight showdown.
“I have fought more times at Barclays Center than anyone, so it’s exciting to get to fight in a new venue not too far from home,” said Browne. “We might be in Seanie’s immediate backyard, but I’m just down the block, so he really isn’t any more at home than I am. I know he’s a hard-nosed fighter with a come-forward style. I’m preparing for a tough opponent. A win won’t come easy, but we have to take care of business. I am just ready to display my talent on national television and continue my climb toward a world title.”
“It is a dream come true to be fighting at the Coliseum, which is literally right next to the track where I run every day,” said Monaghan. “It is an honor to represent Long Island in the first boxing event held at this venue in 31 years. I’ve been waiting for an opportunity like this for a long time, and I feel that this bout will bring a new chapter in my career. I have a lot of respect for Marcus Browne, but let the best man win. On July 15, I am putting everything on the line.”
Also televised in prime time, Artur Szpilka (20-2, 15 KOs)meets Adam Kownacki (15-0, 12 KOs) in an all-Polish heavyweight showdown that promises fireworks.
“I can’t wait to get back in the ring and give my fans another exciting fight,” said Szpilka. “With two Polish heavyweights fighting, you know there will be power and pride on display. I’m training harder than ever to get this victory in front of the great Polish fans in New York. This will be my first step towards getting back to fighting for the heavyweight world title.”
“I can’t wait to fight again,” said Kownacki. “Most of my past fights were at Barclays Center, so fighting at the Coliseum will be a new and exciting experience. I am training very hard. A win on July 15 puts me one step closer to becoming a world champion. Szpilka will not stand in my way.”
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by DiBella Entertainment, start at $50 (not including applicable fees) and are on sale Thursday, May 25 at 10 a.m. ET. Tickets can be purchased online by visiting www.ticketmaster.com, www.nycblive.com, or by calling 1-800-745-3000. Tickets are also available at the Ticketmaster Box Office at NYCB LIVE beginning Friday, May 26 at noon. Group discounts are available by calling 516-231-4848.
“Boxing’s grand return to Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum is going to be wall-to-wall action,” said Lou DiBella, President of DiBella Entertainment. “The PBC on FOX and FOX Deportes main event between Omar Figueroa and Robert Guerrero is destined to be a bloody slugfest. The co-featured bout between Staten Island’s light heavyweight contender Marcus Browne and Long Island’s undefeated ‘Irish Rocky’ Seanie Monaghan will bring the heat on a summer night in Long Island. While Marcus and Seanie will bring in a big local crowd, the heavyweight grudge match between Poland’s Artur ‘The Pin’ Szpilka and Polish American Long Islander, by way of Brooklyn, Adam ‘Baby Face’ Kownacki will pack the house with Polish fans. As a Long Islander, I am proud to promote the first fight card at Nassau Coliseum in 31 years. July 15 will be a fun, action-packed night of boxing entertainment from beginning to end; the remainder of the card will be stacked with old-school brawls including local talent.”
“The Coliseum has a rich history in boxing, having hosted notable fights with the likes of Mike Tyson, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, and Gerry Cooney, among others,” said Brett Yormark, CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment. “We are thrilled to build on the sport’s heritage on Long Island, and to bring boxing back to the venue 31 years later with a major event on network television.”
A high volume puncher with an exciting style, Figueroa has returned to training with Joel Diaz in California leading up to this fight and looks to make his presence felt on July 15. Representing Weslaco, Texas, Figueroa is undefeated since turning pro in 2008 and won a lightweight world title by defeating Nihito Arakawa in a 2013 Fight of the Year standout. He followed that victory up with successful defenses against Jerry Belmontes and Daniel Estrada. The 27-year-old most recently defeated former world champions Ricky Burns and Antonio DeMarco in his last two outings.
Born and raised in Gilroy, Calif., Guerrero is always in exciting contests having gone toe-to-toe with Danny Garcia in a FOX main event in 2016 and Keith Thurman sandwiched around a hard fought victory over Aron Martinez. Prior to 2015, the 34-year-old picked up victories over Andre Berto, Secluk Aydin and Michael Katsidis while winning world titles in multiple divisions. The brawling warrior has been in several “Fight of the Year” candidates throughout his career, including a memorable brawl in Southern California with Yoshihiro Kamegai in 2014, and he also challenged former pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather in 2013.
The undefeated Browne enters this fight after an electrifying performance in February that saw him drop former title challenger Thomas Williams Jr. before knocking him out in round six. The 26-year-old defeated previously unbeaten Radivoje Kalajdzic in April 2016 after a big 2015 that saw him defeat veteran contenders Gabriel Campillo, Aaron Pryor Jr., Francisco Sierra and Cornelius White. The 2012 U.S. Olympian fights out of Staten Island, New York after an exceptional amateur career that saw him win the 2012 U.S. Amateur Championship at light heavyweight.
One of the most popular fighters representing Long Island, Monaghan looks to solidify his first world title shot when he faces Browne on July 15. Monaghan competed in the 2009 New York Golden Gloves before turning pro, reaching the final before dropping a memorable contest to fellow Long Island-native Joe Smith Jr. He has yet to taste defeat in as a professional while battling a slew of veterans eager to test his championship mettle. Monaghan added two more victories in 2016 as he stopped Janne Forsman in five rounds and beat Fernando Castanedo in December.
The always entertaining Szpilka returns to the ring after a defeat at the hands of heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder in 2016 as he attempts to get back on the path towards world title contention. The aggressive-minded 6-foot-3 Szpilka, had a four-fight win streak entering the Wilder bout as he picked up a 10-round unanimous decision over former cruiserweight world champion Tomasz Adamek in 2014 and stoppage victories over Yasmany Consuegra, Manuel Quezada and Ty Cobb in 2015.
A two-time New York Golden Gloves champion, five of Kownacki’s last six victories have come at Barclays Center and he now hopes to bring that winning mindset to the Coliseum. Originally from Poland but now living in Brooklyn, Kownacki stopped previously once-beaten Joshua Tufte in January of this year after 2016 saw him earn a stoppage of Jesse Barboza in June and a decision over Danny Kelly in January. He will take on the toughest test of his career in his countryman Szpilka.
Undercard Announced for Next Detroit Brawl Show at Masonic Temple Featuring the Return to Michigan of Claressa Shields
The undercard has been announced for promoter Dmitriy Salita blockbuster “Detroit Brawl” on Friday, June 16, 2017, at the Masonic Temple in Detroit and it features an impressive mix of local and international prospects in high-stakes match-ups.
Thus far, five exciting bouts are scheduled in support of the eight-round main event featuring two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Claressa “T-Rex” Shields (2-0, 1 KO) of Flint, Michigan, taking on Mery Rancier (7-8-3, 5 KOs) of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, for the WBC Silver Super Middleweight Championship and the 10-round co-main event between undefeated Detroit cruiserweight Demetrius Banks (9-0, 4 KOs) and Detroit via Russia’s Alexey Zubov (14-1, 9 KOs).
Tickets for “Detroit Brawl” are priced at VIP $200, Box Seats $100, Floor Seating $100 & $55, and balcony seating $40, and are available at all Ticketmaster outlets and Ticketmaster.com.
In the night’s main supporting bout, undefeated welterweight pulverizer Bakhtiyar Eyubov (12-0, 10 KOs) of Aktjubinsk, Kazakhstan, will look to stay busy waiting for his next high-profile step, as he attempts to inflict his crowd-pleasing style on always-tough Cesar Soriano (27-35-1, 16 KOs) Iztacalco, Mexico, over six rounds.
In another of the chief supporting bouts, Detroit’s rising talent and “Great Lakes King” Ja’Rico O’Quinn (6-0, 5 KOs) returns to action in a six-round bantamweight brawl against David Martino (2-2, 2 KOs) of San Felipe, Mexico.
Also scheduled is an all-action six-round super welterweight battle between Antonio Urista (7-2, 2 KOs) of Lansing, Michigan, and highly decorated former amateur star Serdar Hudayberdiyev (3-0, 2 KOs) of Turkmenabat, Turkey.
Opening the night will be a six-round super lightweight tilt between Staten Island, New York via Kazakhstan’s Dimash Niyazov (10-0-3, 4 KOs) and Grand Rapids, Michigan, veteran Ramon Guevara (10-24-2, 6 KOs); as well as a four-round welterweight bout between undefeated Jacob Bonas (2-0-1, 1 KO) of Bellville, Michigan, and Clinton Township, Michigan’s Tony Brooks (1-1).
“This is an exciting show from top to bottom,” said promoter Dmitriy Salita. “Every fight has been chosen for its excitement level. I am proud to be presenting it to the boxing savvy fans of Detroit, America’s comeback city and home for world-class boxing.”
More fights, opponents and rounds will be announced shortly. On fight night, doors open at 7:00 pm and the fights begin at 8:00 pm.
Irvin Gonzalez Starting to Make Waves in Super Featherweight Division
New England’s top prospect with 10 pro fights of less, undefeated hometown favorite Irvin Gonzalez, is on a fast track going into his June 10th headline fight in the third installment of the “New England’s Future” series, at the DCU Center (Exhibition Hall) in Worcester, Massachusetts.
“New England’s Future 3” is presented by Rivera Promotions Entertainment (RPE), which is owned and operated by retired three-time, two division world champion Jose Antonio Rivera and his son, Anthonee (A.J.) Rivera.
The 21-year-old Gonzalez (6-0, 6 KOs) takes on Raul Lopez (10-2-1, 5 KOs), of Bronx (NY), in an eight-round main event for the vacant Universal Boxing Federation (UBF) All-American super featherweight championship.
Pro boxing returns to the DCU Center for the first time in 11 years, ironically, when promoter Jose Antonio Rivera defeated Alejandro Garcia, by way of a 12-round unanimous decision, for the World Boxing Association (WBA) World super welterweight title.
“I am excited to watch Irvin’s boxing career flourish,” promoter Jose Rivera remarked. “He has all the tools to become a world champion. Fighting for the UBF championship will be the first of many and I am glad that we are able to give him this opportunity. I see big things for Irvin and I hope fans come out Saturday night, June 10th, to support him and the other local boxers.”
“This is a great opportunity for me,” Gonzalez said. “I’m blessed to be fighting in Worcester for my first title. It’s not a big title but it’s like taking baby steps to a world title. Since I started boxing at the Boys & Girls Club, I always wanted to be like Jose, a three-time world champion. Now, it’s my turn, and I’m fighting again in my city.”
Gonzalez has a perfect pro record: six rights, six wins by knockout. However, he’s only had fought a grand total of eight rounds, and June 10th he’s in a scheduled eight-round match. The well-spoken youngster isn’t concerned with the step up in rounds and opposition.
“I’ve been asked about that by a lot of media, trainers and other fighters,” he explained. “I’ve always trained like it’s for a world title fight, 12 rounds, so I’m not worried about going into deep water. I’m in magnificent shape, three weeks before the fight, and even in the amateurs I’ve always gotten stronger as the fight went along. In sparring, I get stronger, so going eight isn’t a problem for me.
“I don’t really know much about my opponent. He won a few national titles but hasn’t fought too often. I’ll see what he brings into the ring and then adjust. I know I’m taller.”
Gonzalez learned a lot when he was a sparring partner for Guillermo Rigondeaux in Florida that was supposed to be a six-week training camp that ended after three weeks due to Rigondeaux’ fight being cancelled.
“I learned a lot about different training methods that I now use,” Irvin continued. “His techniques are phenomenal. I was around a world champion, two-time Olympic gold medalist and I saw his work ethic. After all he’s accomplished, he still has a great work ethic, and I learned from him that a fighter need continue working like he does until the day it’s all over. It’s not all about money, it’s having fun every day, doing what we love.”
Randy Caballero to put NABF Super Bantamweight Title on the Line Against Oscar Negrete
Undefeated NABF Super Bantamweight Champion and Coachella native Randy “El Matador” Caballero (24-0, 14 KOs) will make his first title defense close to home as he takes on Los Angeles’ Oscar “Jaguar” Negrete (16-0, 6 KOs) at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in a 10-round main event for the June 30th edition of Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN.
This marks the 50th show that Golden Boy Promotions has put on at Fantasy Springs.
Former IBF and WBO Featherweight Champion, Mexican actor and circus performer Jorge “El Maromero” Paez (79-14-5, 51 KOs) will be the VIP guest for this June 30th Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN card. Best known for a fight career spanning nearly 20 years and three weight divisions, Paez faced many of the boxing greats in the 1990’s including Oscar De La Hoya, Genaro Hernandez, Rafael Ruelas and Jesus Chavez. As the VIP guest of the night, Paez will be in attendance for the fights and will be on hand to meet fans; sign autographs and take pictures inside the Fantasy Springs Special Events Center before the ESPN broadcast begins. The meet-and-greet is open to the public with the purchase of a ticket to the event.
Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN will air live on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes at 10 P.M. EST/7 P.M. PST
Caballero, a former IBF Bantamweight World Champion, looked impressive coming back after a long layoff on the inaugural edition of Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN in March, taking a unanimous decision off of a game and rugged Jesus Ruiz. Now, Caballero takes on an undefeated fighter for only the second time in his career.
“I’ve told everyone who will listen that my goal is to regain a world championship belt, and this is another step on that path,” Caballero said. “I know my opponent is undefeated, but he’s never been in the ring with anyone close to my ability, and I’m confident that I’m going to take his “0” on June 30.”
Negrete has built a solid resume culminating with a shutout, unanimous decision over Victor Ruiz on Cinco de Mayo weekend in Las Vegas.
“I’m excited to compete for my first regional belt, especially on ESPN,” Negrete said. “People may overlook me, but after June 30, everyone will know that I am a force in the super bantamweight division.”
In the co-main event, standout amateur and WBC Youth Super Featherweight Champion Lamont Roach, Jr. (13-0, 5 KOs) of Washington, D.C. will defend his title for the first time against a soon-to-be-named opponent in a 10-round scrap.
Hoping to make TV time, heavy-handed Genaro “El Conde” Gamez (4-0, 3 KOs) from San Diego, California, returns to Fantasy Springs for the first time since knocking an opponent clear out of the ring last September. This time, he will take on Miguel Barajas (2-2, 1 KO) from Guadalajara, Mexico in a six-round match-up of super featherweights.
On the non-televised portion of the card, lightweight contender Ryan “Blue Chip” Martin (18-0, 11 KOs) of Chattanooga, Tennessee will bring his unblemished record to the desert in an eight-round fight against a soon-to-be-named opponent.
Welterweight KeAndre “The Truth” Gibson (16-1-1, 7 KOs) will look to come back from the first loss of his career when he takes on Dennis “The Spartan” Dauti (14-2, 7 KOs) of Naousa, Greece in an eight-round affair.
Hot off his professional debut, standout amateur Luis Feliciano (1-0) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and fighting out of Rancho Cucamonga will be back in action for a six-round super lightweight showdown against Baltazar Ramirez (3-2, 3 KOs) of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
And opening up the card, Philadelphia native Damon “No Smilin” Allen (11-0-1, 5 KOs) will put his undefeated record on the line in an eight-round match-up of lightweights against a soon-to-be-named opponent.
Tickets for the event will go on sale Friday, May 26 start at $25 and will be available at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino box office, by calling 1-800-827-2946, or by purchasing online at www.FantasySprings.com