Nery vs Figueroa preview: Bring on the super bantamweight battle
SAN DIEGO, Calif., May 14, 2021 – The defacto super bantamweight tournament staged by Showtime Boxing this summer begins Saturday, and it’s teed up to begin with a banger on a stage known for its battles.
WBC World Super Bantamweight Champion Luis Nery of Mexico (31-0, 24 KOs) goes up against emerging star and WBA Super World Super Bantamweight Champion Brandon Figueroa of (21-0-1, 16 KOs) of Welasco, Texas, in a scheduled 12-round bout at Carson, California’s Dignity Health Sports Park. It headlines a Showtime Boxing card kicking off at 7 pm ET/4 pm PT.
In the co-main event, former unified super bantamweight champion Danny Román of Los Angeles (28-3-1, 10 KOs) takes on tough Ricardo Espinoza Franco of Tijuana (25-3, 21 KOs), with the winner getting a chance for another title shot.
Bravo to Showtime and Premier Boxing Champions for staging fights on the boxing calendar this summer in the division, putting together a virtual super bantamweight tournament for division supremacy among the top titleholders and contenders in an exceptionally competitive division. According to BoxRec’s ranking, three of the top five super bantamweights appear in these two bouts. The winner of Nery vs. Figueroa will become the opponent for the top-ranked man, Stephen “Cool Boy” Fulton, on September 11 with the location TBA.
Luis Nery burst onto the boxing scene with a stunning fourth-round knockout of bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka in 2017.
He came home to a hero’s welcome in Tijuana, including a parade in his honor. Then he won a rematch in just one round, ordered after doping accusations, then struggled to make weight and tried shopping around for a new trainer. Finally, Nery has moved up to super bantamweight and hopes to return to his once thrilling form, and made weight on Friday.
“I’m going for the finish. Everything is on the line. I just have to prove what I’m capable of inside the ring. I don’t care about anything else but that,” said Nery. “I think people got carried away about my performance from my last fight,” promising his power will emerge, and he’ll gain energy from the fans in Carson.
The 26-year-old Nery will get a real test from 24-year-old Brandon Figueroa, who continues to impress as he mows down opponents. Now he’s nipping at Nery’s heels for the right to face Fulton.
“I feel like all of my advantages are going to be used Saturday night, and I just can’t wait,” said Figueroa. “I’m willing to put it all on the line Saturday night.” Figueroa says he’s got a size and work rate advantage over his opponent, holding the CompuBox record for punches per round in the division. ”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.”
Nery vs Figueroa: Fight of the Year potential
Both men understand the reward waiting is another massive challenge against Fulton for three of the four titles in the division.
“I know (Nery) comes to win as well, but I don’t think he wants it as bad as I do. 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?” asked Figueroa.
“We just need to put on a great fight Saturday,” said Nery. “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.
“I feel like this is a fight that could be Fight of the Year. I know everything is on the line, and I’m going to go out there and make sure I give it my all. If I do that, it’s going to be a great fight,” said Figueroa.
Two all-offensive-minded Mexican and Mexican-American boxers for titles at the War Grounds in Carson? It’s hard to think of a better recipe for a potential Fight of the Year. While Nery has the track record and pedigree, he’s struggling to find himself. Figueroa has more upside and so far has passed every test. We’re calling the fight for Figueroa. The pair will go some rounds before Figueroa breaks down Nery and gets a TKO stoppage in the 10th round or later. Lucky us.
Danny Roman: ‘I’m still at the championship level’
In the co-main event, former unified champion Danny Roman believes he’s being overlooked. After losing a narrow decision to Murodjon Akhmadaliev, he’s eager to get back In the hunt for his titles.
“I’m still the guy who you have to beat at super bantamweight,” said Roman. “I know that the champions are trying to avoid me and skip over me for other fights. But I deserve respect, and I’m going to show why they’re avoiding me on Saturday … I’m going to show everyone I’m still at the championships level.”
Roman’s opponent, Richard Espinoza, isn’t too well known by American fans, but his performances are far better than his record indicates. His TKO loss to John Riel Casimero came in the same ring in Carson with just two minutes left in the 12th round. At the time of the stoppage, the scorecards had a split draw. Espinoza is a go-hard or go-home kind of guy who’s ground out wins in the tough Tijuana fight scene.
“Espinoza is a great fighter who has great power. I’m taking this fight like I’m facing another champion,” said Roman. “Anything can happen inside of the ring. All I can control is my performance against Espinoza on Saturday.”
Espinoza knows he’s got a serious test in front of him.
“The reason why I think I’m going to win this fight, more than anything, is because I believe in myself. I have a great team behind me, and if I have faith in myself, all good things are going to happen from now on.
“I admire a lot of fighters, but I don’t want to compare myself to any of them. I am Ricardo Espinoza, and I’m one of a kind.”
Roman is never in a bad fight, and he’s as hungry as they come, but Tijuana-based fighters have enjoyed several upsets in the last few weeks, and Espinoza wants to join the party. Put on your seatbelt for this one.
Undercard fights include pro debut of Gabriela Fundora
Super featherweight Xavier Martinez of Sacramento (16-0, 11 KOs) faces veteran Juan Carlos Burgos of Tijuana (34-4-2, 21 KOs), taking the bout on short notice in a true 10-round step up fight. Another Tijuana banger against a hungry young Californian – are you sensing a theme here?
Also of interest is the professional debut of super flyweight Gabriela Fundora of Coachella, taking on Jazmin Valverde of Calexico (2-1, 2 KOs). Fundora is the sister of Sebastian “The Towering Inferno” Fundora, and the family resemblance will be obvious as she steps into the ring. She will be seven inches taller than her opponent at 5-foot-9 in the 115-pound division, and her reputation is similar to her offense-minded brother.
About the Author:
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.
Copyright © 2021 by Falcon Valley Group