On what was an outstanding weekend of boxing. Saturday being perhaps the best and most entertaining fight day all year, featuring a massive upset, a knockout of the year, and several all-action slugfests as well as a 24-year-old star in the making handing in a breakthrough performance. It was the 24-year-old from Weslaco, Texas. that stole the show. Brandon “The Heartbreaker” Figueroa scored a body shot knockout of Luis “Pantera” Nery and emerged as the best super bantamweight in the world, moved his record to 22-0-1 (17) unified a version of the WBA belt and the WBC belt, and captured out fighter of the week award and secured himself another big-money, unification bout with another young upstart, Stephen Fulton, in September.
A few things were certain when Brandon Figueroa and Luis Nery entered the ring at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. Someones “0” was about to go, likely by knockout and we were going to get fight of the year type action from the opening bell on. We certainly got all of those things. After the first three rounds that saw non-stop action of Figueroa landing more punches but Nery landing the more meaningful punches something shifted in the fourth. Figueroa, constantly changing stances, started nailing Nery from long range with straight lefts from the southpaw stance and forced Nery to fight his fight and the Texan got Nery to sit and trade on the inside and Pantera began to melt under the Texas heat and by round six the writing was on the wall. The Heartbreaker was all over his opponent landing clean shots on the inside and Nery became visibly hurt and fatigued. The end came quickly in the seventh as Figueroa was hurting Nery at will, one left to the solar plexus, putting Nery down on a delayed reaction and rolling around in pain unable ot beat the count. Giving the Texan his 22ns career win and his 17th career knockout, the breakout performance he has long needed, and the WBC super bantamweight title.
This is not the first time a young Figueroa from the Rio Grande Valley looked to be a superstar in the making with the boxing world at his fingertips. Seven years ago a 24-year-old Omar Figueroa scored a sensational decision victory over Jerry Belmontes of Corpus Christi to capture the WBC lightweight title. His star burned twice as bright but half as long, by the time the elder Figueroa bother was 28 he was on a path to destruction, he lost a belt on the scales, took extended layoff, and ran into legal issues that caused him to miss out on the biggest payday of his career. Little Figueroa hopes not to follow in those footsteps. He will take the next step in avoiding the tracks laid by his brother when he battles fellow unbeaten super-bantamweight champion, Stephen Fulton, on September 11th. The division is loaded with young talent including, Daniel Roman Angelo Leo, Tremaine Williams, and Raeese Aleem all of which will challenge and push the younger Figueroa brother towards greatness.