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Brandon Figueroa promises Luis Nery will know who he is on Saturday night

14
May

Sometimes Brandon “Heartbreaker” Figueroa can’t help himself. At 5-foot-9, the 24-year-old is usually taller and has the reach advantage over his junior featherweight opponents, yet he likes to fight inside.

Defending WBC junior featherweight titlist Luis Nery will be more than happy to oblige Saturday night, when the 26-year-old Mexican southpaw defends the title against the rangy Figueroa (21-0-1, 16 knockouts) in the featured bout of Showtime’s Championship Boxing (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) in a Premier Boxing Champions event from the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.

The fight will be highlighted along with former unified junior featherweight titlist Danny Roman’s 10-round bout with Ricardo Espinoza, plus undefeated junior lightweight contender Xavier Martinez taking on former world title challenger Juan Carlos Burgos in a 10-round showdown.

But all eyes will be on the main attraction Nery (31-0, 24 KOs) and Figueroa, who is three inches taller than his 5-foot-6 opponent and has a 5 ½-inch reach advantage (72 inches to 66½).

Nery has stopped 11 of his last 12 opponents, which ended when he stepped up from 118 to 122 to win the vacant WBC junior featherweight title with a unanimous decision over Aaron Alameda last September.

But Nery has also faced weight issues, and “Pantera” did have a tough time during portions of his fight against Alameda, working then under renowned trainer Eddy Reynoso. Nery has worked with trainer Ismael Ramirez for this fight.

The winner of Nery-Figueroa has been promised a unification fight on Showtime against WBO junior featherweight titlist Stephen Fulton in September.

Can that be a distraction?

“I’m only focused on Brandon Figueroa,” Nery said. “After that fight, I’ll be ready for Stephen Fulton, Jr. Once I beat him too, he can tell me how my power feels at this weight.

“Brandon’s style really fits with what I want to do in the ring. I know that I can achieve everything that I want in this division and show all of my skills in this fight. This style will go better with mine than Aaron Alameda’s did in my last fight.

“We just need to put on a great fight Saturday. This is going to be an all-out war from the first round on. People are going to be talking about it for a long time after.”

Nery poses the toughest test of Figueroa’s career. The challenger is looking to use his size and ambidextrous ability to break Nery down.

“Nery is going to learn a lot about me on Saturday night,” Figueroa said. “My size will definitely help me. I feel like he hasn’t fought a guy this big, this strong and he’s going to find out on Saturday night. I’ve trained tremendously for this fight. I have the best conditioning in the 122-pound division.

“My volume output speaks for itself and I feel like a lot of people underestimate me. After Saturday night, they won’t. Once the bell rings, it’s go-time and I come to fight. I come one hundred percent and I’m coming to take that belt home.”

Figueroa also questioned, in a sense, Nery’s desire.

“I know he comes to win as well, but I don’t think he wants it as bad as I do,” Figueroa said. “This game is all about proving yourself in and out of the ring. I feel like my hard work speaks for itself. My fights speak for themselves. I’m just glad I get to share the ring with Luis Nery.

“If it goes my way, Stephen Fulton is next and that’s a fight that I’ve been wanting for a long time. It’s time to unify. If that’s not what you come to boxing for, then what are you in boxing for?”

Nery was sharp in victories over McJoe Arroyo, Juan Carlos Payano and Arthur Villanueva. His stalking style enables him to time opponents with his power, though Figueroa also has power. It may come down to Figueroa using his innate edge in size, or will he be drawn into Nery’s phone booth game and not use distance to frustrate the beltholder?

It’s what makes this fight so intriguing.

Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito.

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