Jerry Belmontes must believe in the idea that lightning strikes twice. If something happens once, then it is destined to happen again.
While that may not always be the case, Belmontes is confident he will be victorious when he faces Omar Figueroa Jr. Again.
Both square off in a 12-round bout for Figueroa’s WBC lightweight title belt on Saturday night at the Stubhub Center in Carson, Calif. The bout, along with the Keith Thurman-Julio Diaz and Lucas Matthysse-John Molina bouts, will be part of a broadcast live on Showtime, starting at 9:00 p.m. ET/ 6:00 p.m. PT.
Belmontes (19-3, 5 KOs) began his professional career with 17 consecutive wins before losing three of his next four bouts. His career looked as though it was going from prospect to gatekeeper status during that span.
That is what looked to be the case in his last bout on March 8 in Las Vegas, Nev., when he faced then-unbeaten Will Tomlinson of Australia. Throughout 10 rounds, Belmontes landed the more-effective punches in his one-sided unanimous decision.
The win not only saved his career, it landed him a fight seven weeks later against the dangerous and hard-hitting Figueroa.
“We’re going in to this fight full of confidence,” Belmontes told RingTV.com over the phone earlier this week. “We only took three days off after the Tomlinson fight. (With regards to the Tomlinson fight), I didn’t think his skills were as good as mine. I just concentrated on my skills and I came out victorious.”
Belmontes, who was born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas, will now face Figueroa, who has that aggressive style that fight fans have accustomed to seeing.
While some think Belmontes is in over his head against Figueroa, he thinks the opposite. As a teenager in the amateurs, Belmontes defeated Figueroa five times. Even though Figueroa possesses a major title belt, Belmontes believes he is the better fighter and is eager to prove it on Saturday night.
In fact, Belmontes believes Figueroa has not evolved from the fighter he once was when on the day they squared off.
“I see him as the same fighter when he was 12, 13, 14 years old,” said Belmontes, who will be fighting for the second time in Southern California. “He fights the same way as when he was an amateur. I just feel that I’m going to outbox him. I can take a punch and I’m in shape. He can’t knock me out. I have great speed and I’m a great counterpuncher.”
A victory over Figueroa will be a huge accomplishment for Belmontes. He would have a world title belt, which could lead to bigger fights and purses in the future.
“A win will put me over the top,” he said. “Fighters will start chasing me and looking to fight me. I’m willing to fight anyone. I feel great at 135 pounds. I can fight here for a long time. It was getting hard for me to fight at 130 pounds, but 135 is a great weight for me.”
After a career of fighting deep on undercards that were not televised, opening a Showtime telecast matters a great deal to Belmontes.
He is eager to make the most of it on Saturday and is confident he will be the one with his arm raised in victory.
“This is a dream and a blessing,” he said. “I can be a slugger and a boxer. Styles make fights and I know that I have a great one that fans will love.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. He also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing