The lights shined bright inside the State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, Texas as Premier Boxing Champions made its way to the Lone Star State.
Omar Figueroa Jr. (25-0-1, 18 KOs) headlined the event, as he took on the resilient Scotsman, Ricky Burns (37-5-1, 11 KOs). Figueroa, fighting in his backyard, was making his Light Welterweight debut and was highly tested by Burns, who was skeptical prior to the bout about gaining a decision in Hidalgo over the hometown hero.
From the opening bell, the fighters wasted no time exchanging heavy blows on one another. The larger Figueroa used his size and noticeable weight advantage to bully Burns into brawling with him on the inside.
Figueroa is no stranger to brawl tactics as he’s proven so in previous encounters, but Burns on the other hand stated after the fight that his strategy was to come out boxing for the first half of the bout, but “Panterita” axed that plan from the get go.
The fight wasn’t the cleanest we’ve seen, with blows being thrown to the back of the heads of both fighters, non-stop clinching and pushing, and with the way referee Laurence Cole was governing the bout, we were liable to see a DDT at any point.
Burns was deducted a total of two points by the end of the match for holding, which gave Figueroa an edge in the fight where arguably he himself could have been deducted points for the same behavior.
While there was good action throughout the rounds, it was difficult to determine who got the better of whom or highlight a standout moment. Though Figueroa was able to land multiple uppercuts while inside that snapped Burns’ neck back and pleased the 4,000-plus fans in the arena.
Burns landed plenty of licks himself and according to Compubox, outpunched Figueroa 289-270. Figueroa would eventually come out on top on the judge’s scorecards unanimously by scores of 117-109, 116-110 and 116-110, which demonstrates a damn near landslide victory.
While the crowd and Figueroa reveled in the victory, most people sitting in press row saw the fight as a much closer competition.
“I think it was his size that gave me problems more than anything. I don’t know what weight he came into the ring, but it was a lot bigger than me,” Burns said.
I asked Figueroa if he felt the weight made a difference in the bout.
“It might have. At this point fighting a fight like that you never know what it is,” Figueroa said. “In a fight like this it takes a lot out of you to have a fighter leaning and using his weight on you for four rounds much less 12 rounds. I was just thankful that I was in shape and didn’t let my fans down.”
While Omar Figueroa Jr. came out with the victory today, I can’t say that I was sold on his performance. The brawling/puncher style he possesses is crowd-pleasing, but given an opponent with better ring IQ and boxing ability we may see him struggle.
Only time will tell what’s next for Figueroa as he will take some time to evaluate his performance and of course consult his manager Al Haymon. Expect Figueroa to be back in the ring sometime before the end of the year as the young Texan aspires to be the next big thing in boxing.
All photos by Esther Lin