One was leading, the other countering, and then that quickly went out the window, as WBC super bantam champ Luis Nery, age 26, and Brandon Figueroa, age 24, simply started trading. And when that happened, it became apparent that Figueroa's size and strength and reach and chin were on this night at StubHub/Dignity Health in Carson, CA attributes that would bring him to victory lane Saturday.
Maybe it was the cupping that did it…You saw cup marks on the back of Figueroa when you saw the replay of him digging nastily a left hand to the solar plexus in round seven, which sent the Mexican native Nery to the mat in agony, and he was unable to rise in time to beat the count.
Brandon Figueroa, who entered with a WBA bantam belt, hadn't dealt with a murderers' row, beating Yonfrez Parejo to get the interim version of the strap, and Julio Ceja to get the “real” version, to get to this bigger stage.
But once on it, he proved that he belonged…He said coming in he was wanting to break down Nery, and indeed, Nery's skill set shone brighter early on.
But Figueroa knew what he was doing, and that left hand, nearer to the pectoral but close enough to the solar plexus to debilitate Nery, proved to be a brutal exclamation point.
Brandon Figueroa will again play the underdog role in his next fight, he's slated to engage with Stephen Fulton, the Philly boxer who has found his style and will be a harder out than was Nery.
Oh, and by the way, our man Abe Gonzalez had a real good handle on what this fight could look like. He posted this prediction the day before the clash:
Here is the release sent out by the good people at Showtime:
UNDEFEATED RISING STAR BRANDON FIGUEROA CAPTURES WBC SUPER BANTAMWEIGHT WORLD TITLE WITH SENSATIONAL SEVENTH-ROUND KNOCKOUT IN SHOWTIME MAIN EVENT SATURDAY NIGHT
BRANDON FIGUEROA TO FACE STEPHEN FULTON, JR. IN TITLE UNIFICATION FIGHT SEPTEMBER 11 ON SHOWTIME
Former Unified Champion Danny Roman Victorious in Co-Main Event and Xavier Martinez Remains Unbeaten Via Unanimous Decision In Telecast Opener
CARSON, CALIF. (May 15, 2021) – Undefeated rising star Brandon “Heartbreaker” Figueroa scored a career-best victory and captured the WBC Super Bantamweight World Championship with a seventh-round knockout of unbeaten two-division champion Luis Nery Saturday night in the main event of action live on SHOWTIME from Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California in a Premier Boxing Champions event.
“It feels amazing, this is a dream come true,” said Figueroa. “I know everyone doubted me, but here I am with the belt. It's all thanks to hard work and dedication.”
The fight between undefeated champions lived up to its billing with Brandon Figueroa (22-0-1, 17 KOs) implementing his smothering strategy early, forcing a firefight with Nery (31-1, 24 KOs) from the opening bell. Nery appeared to control much of the early action, owning edges in punches landed (209 to 177) and punch accuracy (34% to 27%) throughout the fight, according to CompuBox.
But it was the 24-year-old Figueroa’s persistence in coming forward that eventually began to wear on Nery. Better fourth and sixth rounds for Figueroa showed cracks in Nery’s armor and were a harbinger for what would come soon after.
“The plan was to break him,” said Brandon Figueroa. “My corner told me to pressure him and that he wouldn't last. That's exactly what happened. I knew he was getting tired, he was trying to box me. I saw him breathing heavy. My team just said it was time to go get him.”
In the seventh round, Figueroa appeared to hurt Nery early with a series of powerful hooks, as Nery altered his strategy and began to clinch. Continuing to press inside, Figueroa was eventually able to land the decisive punches in the form of a combination punctuated by a left hook to the body.
“You saw tonight what I can do,” said Brandon Figueroa. “I brought it to him and the hard work paid off. We did our homework. We did a great job in the gym and just took it to him.”
Nery had a delayed reaction to the powerful body shot, but once he hit the canvas, he was unable to beat referee Thomas Taylor’s count, ending the fight 2:18 into the round.
Figueroa’s triumph sets him up for a unification showdown on Saturday, September 11 on SHOWTIME against WBO 122-pound champion Stephen Fulton Jr., who joined Figueroa in the ring after the fight.
“We've been waiting for this fight against Fulton and it’s finally going to happen,” said Figueroa. “I knew I had to get through Luis Nery first. Everything has its time. I envisioned that I was going to beat Nery and now I see myself beating Fulton. I know he's coming with everything he's got and that we're going to give the fans a hell of a show.”
“Great performance by Brandon tonight,” said Fulton. “That's what I predicted would happen. This is my time now though. I've been waiting for this moment to finally fight Brandon Figueroa. I knew that Brandon would fight how he always fights. I'm just ready for my time against him. We're going to put on a hell of a performance. Congratulations to him tonight, but I'm coming next.”
In the co-main event, former super bantamweight unified world champion Danny Roman (29-3-1, 10 KOs) dominated the second half of the fight to win a 10-round unanimous decision over Ricardo Espinoza (25-4, 21 KOs). “This win is a step closer to getting back on top and getting a world title once again,” said Roman. “I knew he was a tough fighter who hit hard, so I had to fight smart and make adjustments.”
After a close first half of the fight, the Los Angeles native Roman began to figure out the awkward and hard-charging attack of Mexico’s Espinoza. In round seven, Roman connected on a vicious combination of double left uppercuts, punctuated by a sweeping left hook, that bloodied the nose of Espinoza, who went on before the Brandon Figueroa win. “I felt good overall in there,” said Espinoza. “I could have pressured him a bit more and closed his angles, but it was a good fight. Danny is a tough fighter who withstood a lot of shots to the head. He’s a quality fighter.”
Espinoza had actually out landed Roman 124 to 119 across the first six rounds of the fight before Roman’s adjustments led to a 101 to 66 edge in punches landed in his favor across the final four frames. “I started to get my distance and started fighting my fight and controlling the ring,” said Roman. “Once I did that, everything started to fall into place. I was surprised he went the distance, but he has a lot of heart. He’s a tough fighter.”
The bloodied nose immediately became a target for Roman, as Espinoza had to be checked by the doctor before beginning the ninth round before continuing to take the brunt of the punishment in the fight. Roman’s performance in the second half of the duel was enough to give him the victory, as he prevailed on all three judges’ scorecards with tallies of 97-92 and 98-92 twice. All three judges gave Roman the final six rounds of the fight.
In the opening bout of the telecast, rising super featherweight contender Xavier Martinez (17-0, 11 KOs) remained unbeaten with a unanimous decision victory over former title challenger Juan Carlos Burgos (34-5-2, 21 KOs) in an action-packed 10-round fight.
Martinez also held the edge in accuracy, landing 37% of his punches to his opponent’s 31% connect rate. It was the body attack that kept Burgos in the fight, as his best moments came when racking up his 54 to 44 lead in body shots landed.
The two men punctuated their action fight, which took place before the Brandon Figueroa win, with wild exchanges in the 10th round, as Martinez landed big shots that seemed to only make Burgos more eager to continue pushing forward. After the final bell, all three judges saw the fight in favor of Martinez, by the score of 99-91 three times. SHOWTIME’s unofficial ringside scorer Steve Farhood scored the fight 98-92.