Back in July of 2013, Omar Figueroa, Jr.s star was truly born. The native Texan fought in front of his home crowd in San Antonios Alamodome against the wily Nihito Arakawa. The Japanese fighter had just delivered a 2nd round KO just two months earlier. The interim WBC lightweight belt was on the line after titleholder Adrien Broner moved up two weight classes to welterweight to face Paulie Malignaggi.
Figueroa and Arakawas back and forth slugfest became a candidate for the 2013 Fight of the Year. The fact that they were only trumped by Timothy Bradley vs. Russian Provodnikov speaks volumes to the level of carnage in that fight and why Figueroa walking away with the belt proved he was a star on the rise.
3rd round of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING’s bout between Omar Figueroa Jr. and Nihito Arakawa.
Figueroa is one half of the Fighting Figueroas; his younger brother, Brandon Figueroa is also a boxer and is fighting on the same card on July 15th where his older brother will meet former champion Robert Guerrero.
Ive always said Im a fighter thats willing to leave it all in the ring,” said Figueroa. “Thats just the fighter I am, I have that mentality. Guerrero has the makings to be another Arakawa for me so Ive just got to be smarter and obviously hes a lot better fighter, so Ive got to outwit him to win the fight.
After hitting the stop button on his career after a few injuries and wanting to take some time off from the sport, approximately 19 months total, the elder of the fighting brothers was anxious to return back to the squared circle.
I was ready to get back in but at the same time I hadnt done anything for a while,” said Omar. “I stayed out the gym completely. Its been challenging. The main thing we focused on was the weight, to bring it down first before we started camp. Im in the best place Ive been in all of my career in terms of my weight and I cant wait to see how I feel the day of the fight.
Even amid the layoff, the confidence exuded by the man who once held a full academic scholarship from the Texas A&M University is ever present, although his next challenge is not only a step up in weight but in caliber of opponent as well.
I dont even care who I get in there with, I have enough on my plate when it comes to training that I dont worry about the technicalities of boxing,” he said. “I trust my team, they are with me for a reason and if they feel that Im good to fight Guerrero, then Im good to fight Guerrero and thats how Im seeing it.
Still with Guerreros last two fights being decision losses to Danny Garcia and David Emanuel Peralta, he will be hungry to get back on the winning path. One might feel that this hunger from a veteran who has seen the best competition boxing has to offer might be too great of a returning challenge for a welterweight debut.
I honestly think the pressures on both of us,” said Figueroa. “Were both at a point in our careers where this fight is very pivotal; it could make or break us. Hes got a couple losses so hes trying to prove that hes not a cadaver or ghost of his old self, and Im still trying to prove that Im still competitive and ready to get back into the big leagues.
You can get no bigger than fighting live on a Premier Boxing Champions network TV platform, and Figueroa will add the millions of live viewers watching on FOX to his pool of potential new fans. The stage has never been more perfect to be great and although decorated, Guerrero has been the springboard for fighters like Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia to shine.
The question is with all the hype now surrounding the welterweight division and names like Errol Spence, Jr., Shawn Porter and the man on top of the mountain, Thurman, does Figueroa look at the division as his new home or drop back down to get the belt he was relieved of by the WBC that is now held by the lightweight slugger Mikey Garcia.
Omar Figueroa Jr. and Antonio DeMarco combined to throw nearly 1,700 punches in their PBC on NBC main event on on Saturday, December, 12 2015, in San Antonio, Texas. After 12 rounds of non-stop action, which looked as if it was fought in a phone booth considering the consistent back and forth, it was Figueroa Jr.
Its something that were going to take into consideration after this fight,” said Figueroa. “Well see how it goes once I get past him.
With the lightweight, super lightweight and welterweight ranks all full of contract killers, Figueroa has the world by the short hairs if he gets past Guerrero.
He switched up from his normal Texas training camp to the dry Inland Empire digs of trainer Joel Diaz in Palm Springs. The man who took Timothy Bradley, Jr to championship heights has had Figueroa with him since January, away from his family and friends to focus on nothing more than returning back to glory.
For Figueroa, who realizes second chances are rare in a sport that eats people alive, he is just happy to be back and with a strong unit in the boxing game.
Im just grateful that Im able to be in this position again,” he said. “Im grateful that I have the team that I have and that they are as good as they are at their job. My work speaks for itself. I deserve to be here. And on July 15th, Im going to show them just how grateful I am.