This Saturday night, Showtime Boxing will host a Super Bantamweight Unification bout live from inside Park MGM in Las Vegas, NV. WBC Champion Brandon Figueroa (22-0-1) takes on the WBO Champion Stephen Fulton Jr. (19-0). For those who follow the sweet science closely, this fight has been highly anticipated since it was announced.
This fight joined the list of events that have been canceled or rescheduled due to fighters testing positive for COVID. It's been frustrating for all parties involved, including the fans who make plans to attend these events only to change or cancel them.
Before starting fight week, I checked in with Brandon Figueroa to catch up with everything that had happened leading up to the biggest fight of his career.
For those that don't know, the twenty-four-year-old Brandon Figueroa is from Weslaco, TX and his family makes up the entire team which defines the term “family business.” His father (Omar Sr.) is the trainer, while his sister (Omayra) conducts strength and conditioning and his meal plans.
Brandon is also the younger brother of former world champion Omar Figueroa Jr.
This past May, Brandon faced then WBC Champion Luis Nery (31-1) in a fight that most fans were picking Nery to win. Brandon catches heat from the hard-core fans as he is a guy that can probably have a career in modeling after he is done with boxing. Being a good-looking guy, he gets the “pretty boy” stigma and is always counted out in fights.
But behind his looks is a real tough guy who fights with relentless pressure and is ready to go to war with anyone.
I was curious to know how Brandon felt going into the fight being somewhat the underdog. He said, “I knew I had to stay positive and let my hard work do all of the talking. I believe in myself more than anyone. I knew the critics, and some fans thought Nery would stop me and knock me out, but also knew the likes of him wouldn't extinguish my fire. We had an amazing training camp, and I just went out there and executed.”
During the fight, Brandon felt like he outworked Nery, which led to the KO victory. Brandon told NYFights, “I literally just took the fight to him and knew that my pressure wouldn't allow for the fight to go twelve rounds. After the first two or three rounds, once I figured out that was all he had, I knew I was going to keep breaking him down, and it was going to be a matter of rounds before I finished him.”
The impressive victory silenced some of the critics and hit the radars of the Showtime Boxing executives. Stephen Fulton Jr. was in attendance, and the stage was set for a September fight between the two. Both men were deep in their training camps when the unexpected news came through the wire that Brandon Figueroa tested positive for COVID. Of course, Stephen Fulton Jr. was disappointed, but Figueroa ensured that the fight would simply be rescheduled and not canceled.
“We were two weeks away from the biggest fight of my life when I tested positive for COVID,” Brandon said. “We regrouped as a family and went back home to recover. I couldn't relax too much because I knew the fight was still pending a new date. If anything, it stopped the momentum I had in camp going to the last two weeks before the fight. Al Haymon told me to stay busy because the fight was going to be announced sooner than later. The only symptom I received was some congestion, but it hit my mom and sister pretty hard. I had to take care of my family as they are part of my team,” said the twenty-four-year-old WBC Champion.
It makes sense that Haymon wanted to keep him sharp given how vital this unification fight is to both men. Saturday night means everything to Figueroa, and he is training for the fight of his life.
Figueroa told NYFights, “This is the only way I'm going to get better as I've never been scared of anyone. I feel like the hard work will speak for itself. I know this is another big fight with another world champion, and if I can stop Fulton, then I have to be considered up there with the greats.”
Brandon clarifies that he wants to solidify his position as a top fighter and knows he will have to beat Fulton Jr. to join the discussion.
Once Brandon recovered from COVID, he returned to the gym and prepared for his fight on the 27th. Like his previous camp, Team Figueroa traveled to Indio, CA, to join Joel Diaz and his brother Antonio. Brandon has been there the last few weeks going over the game plan with Joel Diaz. Along with a strategy, the Diaz brothers help push Figueroa in his final weeks of preparation to reach peak performance levels.
Brandon Figueroa will have the brightest lights on him come Saturday night. A victory would bring him even more notoriety. So, what should we expect from him? “Expect a great fight and a war! I trained really hard for this opportunity, and I can't wait to go out there and show everyone that I belong on that world-class level. We came back on another level and are ready to come back and perform to the highest level.”
Lastly, Brandon said, “I'm just blessed to have great people around me and a great team. Thank you to all of my family, friends, fans, and Joel Diaz's training camp. I want to thank my sponsors and Al Haymon for this opportunity.”
My Three Cents
Right after Black Friday shopping, Showtime will be treating you with what an excellent Super Bantamweight clash. Who will come out victorious and leave the ring as the unified champion? You'll have to tune in to Showtime on Saturday at 10 pm EST/7 pm PST to find out. You won't want to miss this one!