Omar Figueroa out to prove he’s ‘a force to be reckoned with’
It sounds clich├® but Omar Figueroa plans on 2016 being his big year.
If the undefeated 25-year-old, who has a penchant for making every fight an exciting war, had it his way he would already be recognized as one of the best boxers in the sport. However, a litany of injuries has slowed his progress and prevented him from being as busy as he would like to be.
But he’ll close out 2015 against Antonio DeMarco as the headliner of the Dec. 12 Premier Boxing Champions on NBC card in hopes of leaving an impression with a scintillating performance punctuated by a stoppage or total domination.
“He’s no pushover,” Figueroa said to RingTV.com as he prepares to engage with the former WBC lightweight champion, who is currently riding a two-fight losing streak and briefly retired after losing to Rances Barthlemy earlier this year. “We’re preparing for the Antonio DeMarco I remember from back in 2009 when he fought Edwin Valero.”
Although many think that Figueroa will dominate his opponent, Figueroa knows better than to look past any opponent. After all, he’s pretty sure that everyone in the 2007 Golden Gloves tournament in Texas looked past him. He admits he barely trained for it but ended up winning the state championship fight by upending Errol Spence Jr.
That tournament helped change Figueroa’s life. Prior to his victory, Figueroa’s focus was on high school baseball and making it to the big leagues. But then he realized his potential after taking state.
“I know I wasn’t anywhere near 100 percent and I still went out there and beat these guys who were supposed to win the tournament,” he recalled. “I didn’t even know who Errol Spence was but he was a tough guy who was bigger and a lot stronger than I was. I just used my aggressive style and beat him up. I think that’s the last loss he had in a long time. I didn’t think much of it then but I see him now and I know I’m one of the last people that beat him.”
Meanwhile, baseball was becoming something he couldn’t rely on.
“I realized that there’s only one person that I trust and that person is myself,” he said. “In a sport like boxing I have to have enough confidence in myself to do what’s necessary to prepare for a fight. I wasn’t going to depend on 8 other guys to help me win a game when they possibly didn’t prepare as well as I did. I knew that depending on myself was the only choice.”
Today Figueroa sports a 25-0-1 record with 18 knockouts. He’s had to deal with some injuries and bouncing back and forth between his father and Joel Diaz as his trainer but he thinks he’s found the winning combination that will finally help him see his tremendous potential realized. For one, he recognizes that injuries are part of the game but believes that he has that aspect under control. After having to postpone this fight with DeMarco because of an elbow injury, Figuroa says that he feels great and has learned to cope with pain. As for his trainer situation, “Panterita” is comfortable with his father, Omar Sr., back in his corner for this fight. He has no issue with Diaz and thanks him for showing him how to take his training seriously.
“I got way too comfortable with my dad and needed to get away,” Figueroa said of his initial decision to leave his father. “With Joel I was more of a professional. I really did take to him and listen to everything he said. It was pretty much the same things my father was telling me but I was taking it more serious from him. Now that I’m back with my dad I know what I have to do. Even though there’s father-son BS in the past, I had to squash it for the betterment of my boxing career.”
Figueroa is prepared to prove that he’s one of the best fighters in the world and has matured a great deal over the past couple of years. Considering what he’s already accomplished, should he remain focused, it’s going to be hard to deny him.
“2016 can be a good year and I can stay busy and etch my name in the minds of all these people,” he said. “I’m a force to be reckoned with and I will prove that next year.”