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Brandon Figueroa: I can box, but everyone knows I love to fight

Photo by Esther Lin/SHOWTIME
Fighters Network

ONTARIO, Calif. — It’s been 15 months since Brandon Figueroa was last a world titleholder but the Texas-born action fighter knows he’ll be back on the doorstep of a world championship if he can get past another former champ, Mark Magsayo, this Saturday.

Ex-WBC junior featherweight champ Figueroa (23-1-1, 18 knockouts) acknowledges that he has some of the physical qualities that gave Magsayo trouble in his last fight against Rey Vargas, but says he is a fighter first, even if it goes against the wishes of those around him.

“I have all the abilities, the length, the size. Everyone knows that I love to fight. I know a lot of people, even my dad, tell me use your jab and distance but to be honest, I love to fight. I go in there, dominate my opponent, break them down and get them out of there,” said the 26-year-old at Thursday’s press conference ahead of the WBC interim featherweight title fight, which will take place at the Toyota Arena in Ontario, Calif. and will headline a Showtime Championship Boxing card.

Magsayo, who won the WBC featherweight title last year with a win over Gary Russell Jr. before losing it by split decision to Vargas last July, acknowledges that Figueroa is a different type of fighter. He notes that Figueroa often switches stances to southpaw, and brings the fight to his opponents.

“Rey Vargas likes to run, but Figueroa comes to fight,” said Magsayo (24-1, 16 KOs) of Tagbilaran City, Philippines.

Figueroa, who has a two-inch height advantage over Magsayo at 5’8″, will be fighting for the second time since suffering his first defeat, a razor-thin decision against Stephen Fulton in a unification bout in November of 2021. In his last outing, he defeated Carlos Castro by sixth round stoppage on the Magsayo-Vargas undercard.

They share one common opponent, Julio Ceja, who held Figueroa to a draw in 2019 on the Deontay Wilder-Luis Ortiz II card, when Ceja blew the weight by over four pounds, and who took Magsayo to hell and back in 2021, hurting Magsayo badly with body punches before prevailing with a one-punch, come from behind knockout in round ten.

Magsayo says that performance shows his will to win, but Figueroa hints that the vulnerability he intends to exploit is in the midsection.

“I’m going to do anything it takes to win this fight. If I see that I’m boxing him well, and that I’m winning, then I’m going to box. If I see that I can get on the inside and hurt him with the body shots then I’m gonna do so,” said Figueroa.

“I’m no Ceja, I definitely hit way harder than him. Especially now that I’m at 126, I feel I’m very strong and very powerful.”

Ryan Songalia has written for ESPN, the New York Daily News, Rappler and The Guardian, and is part of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2020. He can be reached at [email protected].