Brandon Figueroa is working hard toward shedding the interim label
Omar Figueroa Sr. knows the look. He’s seen it too many times on the faces of his sons, fighters Omar and Brandon Figueroa. They’re not about to openly admit that the sage wisdom their father had been giving them through the years was right. But Omar Sr. knows his message is getting there.
Brandon, the 5-foot-9 interim WBA super bantamweight beltholder, has a test this Saturday in the main event on the FS1 PBC Fight Night show (10PM ET/7PM PT) when he faces Javier “Chispita” Chacon (29-4-1, 9 knockouts) in a 12-round homecoming title defense from the Bert Ogden Arena, in Edinburg, Texas, which is a 25-minute drive from “The Heartbreaker’s” home.
Brandon (19-0, 14 KOs) is looking for his seventh-straight stoppage victory and trying to throw out the “interim” tag, while Daniel Roman holds both the IBF and WBA titles.
Brandon, 22, is still able to squeeze 122 pounds in his lanky 5-9 frame—and the lessons his father imparted are being absorbed. Omar Sr. would get on his sons about taking a little more time to hit the bag, to run, to spar, watch the diet. All of the little things.
“For Brandon to keep making 122, he wants to be a full champion, he understands the sacrifice and mental toughness it takes to get there,” Omar Sr. said. “Brandon is really focused and understands everyone will be there to watch what he does. It’s important for him what young kids see in him, for them to look up to him.
“Brandon wants to prove to the world he belongs at the world-class level.”
Then, Omar Sr. relayed a story about Brandon. He wanted to create backpacks full of school supplies for local kids as the build-up for the Chacon fight was starting. The time commitment didn’t matter. Omar Sr. retired from the post office after 23 years, and suggested he take over that role.
“It took me almost four hours at Walmart to pick up school supplies, because it’s something Brandon wanted to do, and he’s my son and admire that,” Omar Sr. said. “It brings tears to my eyes, because I wish someone like Brandon was around when I was growing up, because I only had one pair of shoes to go to school. That’s how he is.
“He takes responsibility very, very important. He knows you make money by working. Omar and Brandon won’t admit anything to me about (being right), but I can see it in their eyes what I say they’re listening to and taking in. Brandon is getting stronger and he understands that fighters at this level are stronger and hungry.”
Brandon knows Chacon, 38, has been around. Brandon was eight when Chacon made his pro debut in 2004. Chacon is a quality fighter—yet Brandon realizes, fighting in his own backyard, the pressure will be on his narrow shoulders. He’s been well insulated this week when it comes to ticket requests and in regards to friends and family trying to pull him here and there.
Chacon will come forward and pressure Brandon, who will counteract that with pressure of his own with a strong body attack. This will be the third time Brandon will be fighting in 2019, and he’s looking to get into the ring at least one more time before the end of 2019—hopefully against Roman.
One word that tends to irritate Brandon, and rightfully so, is that dangling adjective before the WBA title is mentioned—and that’s “interim.”
“I want the real thing,” Brandon stressed. “I know I can’t or won’t get there unless I win (Saturday night). I use ‘interim’ as motivation and to keep working hard. I know my title shot will come. I’ll keep working and working until I get that title shot.”
It’s been two years since Brandon has gone the distance with anyone. But, he notes, he hasn’t been diluted by his power. His goal is to put 12 rounds in.
“I always prepare for different measures that come,” Brandon said. “My goal is always the same, put in good body work and wear my opponent down.”
Brandon maintains that he’s still able to make 122 without any problems, though at 22, he knows his body is maturing. In his eight-round stoppage over Yonfrez Parejo in April, Brandon averaged 105 punches a round, setting a CompuBox record with 142 punches thrown in a round and finishing the fight with 845 total punches.
“I think more mature in every way from last year,” Brandon said. “My body and my legs have more power. I’m training more intense. I want world-title fights and I want to be a world champion. I’ve worked more on my footwork and added more conditioning to my training. I want to break another record for most punches thrown in a round.
“The more punches you throw, and they’re punches everywhere, to the body, to the head.
“I’m focusing on what I have to do. My friends and family already know not to bug me during training.”
Omar Sr. promised “Brandon will put on an exciting show.”
He should know. He saw it in his son’s eyes.
GET THE LATEST ISSUE AT THE RING SHOP (CLICK HERE)