Carson results: Brandon Figueroa batters Luis Nery to unify titles Saturday
SAN DIEGO, Calif., May 15, 2021 – Live by the sword, die by the body shot.
WBA Super World Super Bantamweight Champion Brandon “Heartbreaker” Figueroa of (22-0-1, 17 KOs) of Welasco, Texas dug deep, digging to the body of WBC World Super Bantamweight Champion Luis Nery of Mexico (31-1, 24 KOs), adding Nery’s title to his own in a gutsy performance with a body shot knockout win in the seventh round at 2:18.
“It feels amazing. It’s a dream come true since I was seven years old,” said Figueroa. “Now I’m living it. Everyone doubted me, but now I’m here with two belts. Baby, let’s go.”
With the win, Figueroa will face WBO Super Bantamweight champion Stephen “Cool Boy” Fulton on September 11.
At the time of the stoppage, judges had the fight a draw, with one card even at 57-57, one 59-55 for Nery, and 58-56 for Figueroa. Nery was taken to a local hospital as a precaution to be evaluated for injuries sustained in the fight.
Figueroa’s conditioning makes the difference
Nery came out strong from the opening bell, firing hard right hooks and uppercuts to set up body shots. They had to be the hardest punches Figueroa has ever taken in his pro career. Nery also knew he had something to prove to doubters who weren’t sure he would perform well at 122 pounds, giving him motivation.
As the naturally bigger man, 24-year-old Figueroa could have worked behind a jab against Nery. Instead, he stood in and traded shots to the glee of the limited crowd at Carson’s famed battleground. Figueroa found his own success going to the body, toughing out the punishment when Nery fired back.
Credit Brandon Figueroa’s conditioning for the difference in the fight. Nery didn’t have the stamina to stick with his assault. Slowly but surely, Figueroa gained ground on Nery. In the corner, trainer Joel Diaz saw Nery losing steam and urged Figueroa to work his uppercuts and body shots.
“I knew he was getting tired. He was trying to box me,” said Figueroa. “I knew he wasn’t going to stay in there and bang with me. The pressure was getting to him. My team said, ‘let’s go get him.’”
Figueroa got Nery’s attention with a right hook to the chest, followed by a perfectly placed left hook at the edge of Nery’s rib cage. He froze for a second, then dropped to the canvas in obvious pain.
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“You guys saw tonight, hard work paid off,” said Figueroa. “We did our homework. We did a hell of a job in the gym. Training camp was tremendous, and we took it to him. That was the plan, to break him. Joel Diaz told me to put pressure on him. He wasn’t going to last. The hard work in the gym paid off, and I did just that.”
Before the fight, Fulton predicted the win to the round. Joining Brandon Figueroa in the ring, Fulton complimented Figueroa on the performance. “I predicted it like I said. Nery is a 118 pounder. He should stay back down there. It didn’t surprise me at all. I knew he would fight the way he fought. He gets hit a lot,” said Fulton.
Figueroa promised a hell of a show against Fulton. “I envisioned everything. I envisioned I’d beat Nery, and I envisioned I’d fight Stephen Fulton. I know he’s going to come with everything. I have to prepare 110% just like I did for this.”
Nery’s decision to leave trainer Eddy Reynoso after just one fight and return to training in Tijuana will get new scrutiny. His work ethic reportedly didn’t meet the standards set by Canelo Alvarez and his failure to make weight for several fights plus doping issues will all be raised again after the loss. First, Nery needs to successfully recover from the fight. There will be plenty of time for Nery to answer all these questions – again.
Danny Roman takes a step toward a title fight with victory
Former unified champion Danny Roman of Los Angeles (29-3-1, 10 KOs) proved he deserves another run at a title. He turned back another tough Tijuana native, Richard Espinoza (25-4, 21 KOs), the pair put on a show for the appreciative fans in Carson. It was the more experienced Roman who ended the bout with his hand raised. Scorecards were 98-92 X 2 and 97-93.
After six fairly even rounds where Espinoza delivered more of a challenge, Roman began deploying his uppercut with success, slowing Espinoza down. Roman’s uppercut is prettier than Gervonta Davis, and if he had more power, the fight would have ended earlier. Espinoza’s bloodied face showed Roman’s handiwork, and the fight became a clinic. This isn’t a slam on the 23-year-old Espinoza, who gained plenty of fans from his effort. The ringside physician kept a close eye on Espinoza but allowed him to finish the fight on his feet.
Roman surely felt motivation after losing his titles to Murodjon Akhmadaliev to put on a great show. “I’m thankful for today. I’m in my home. I’m back home now,” said Roman. “I’m closer to getting back on top and gaining a world title once again. I knew Ricardo Espinoza is a tough fighter and hits hard. I had to fight a smart fight and make adjustments. I got my distance, started controlling the ring.
Roman didn’t think Espinoza would hang in like he did. “After eight rounds, I thought he was going to go down. He’s got a lot of heart, respect to him,” said Roman.
Prior to the main event, Roman called for a fight with the winner. “I’m the mandatory for the WBC. The people want to see it. Give me the winner of the main event,” said Roman. The winner has a date first with Stephen Fulton, but Roman is likely to get his shot at some point.
Martinez battles Burgos to decision win
Super featherweight Xavier Martinez of Sacramento (17-0, 11 KOs) and veteran Juan Carlos Burgos of Tijuana (34-5-2, 21 KOs) set the tone in Carson, going right to each other from the beginning of their opening fight. Ten hard rounds later, Martinez emerged with a unanimous decision win. Scorecards were 99-91 on all three cards. The Carson crowd booed the lopsided scores after enjoying a much more even battle.
“It was fun, I had fun tonight. You guys enjoyed the fight. I don’t know why y’all booing,” said Martinez. “I thought I could have done better, but I was landing the cleaner, harder shots. He’s a tough competitor. I want to thank him for taking the fight. He’s as tough as hell.”
Burgos took the fight on short notice with a nothing to lose attitude and wasn’t about to make it an easy night for Martinez, even at his own expense. Burgos forced Martinez to forego any pretense of boxing his way to a win, challenging him with power punches and at times pinning Martinez to the ropes.
“Many people don’t know that I was brought in on late notice. Just two weeks in advance,” said Burgos. “That’s not an excuse but just the reality. Martinez fought a hell of a fight. He is definitely one of the best opponents I have ever faced.
Borgos said he was shocked by the scorecards. “The public opinion and the fact that the fans were booing is what I take with me today. The fans spoke louder than the cards. I am glad to have given them an exciting fight.”
It was Martinez who was landing more leather in combination more often. He rattled Burgos although he couldn’t drop or stop him. Credit Burgos for his best performance in years, the kind of battle which will benefit Martinez as he progresses to more challenging opponents. Both men threw over 800 punches and landed over 40% of their power punches. “It’s good having tests like this. Tough fights help me get better. I can hang in there with a tough opponent,” said Martinez. Martinez said he’d like to tackle Chris Colbert next. “I do have a rivalry with Chris Colbert. That’s not a secret. Everyone knows that. If we can make that happen, that would be cool. That would be a really fun fight for both of us. He’s a boxer. I come forward. We will cause a lot of fireworks with that one,” said Martinez.
With her brother Sebastian Fundora looking on, super flyweight Gabriela Fundora of Coachella (1-0) won her pro debut, scoring a knockdown of Jazmin Valverde of Calexico (2-2, 2 KOs) on the way to a unanimous decision win. The Fundora siblings are both tall, offense-minded fighters, and Ms. Fundora is off to a good start.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Twitter and Instagram at @PRProSanDiego.
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