'Warrior mentality' has Brandon Figueroa primed to take title from Luis Nery

·Combat columnist
·4 min read

Brandon Figueroa sat ringside at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, on May 1, cheering on his older brother, Omar, in his fight against Abel Ramos.

A former world lightweight champion, Omar Figueroa Jr. was fighting for the first time in two years. Long one of boxing’s best action fighters, he was surprisingly inactive and absorbed a brutal beating from Ramos before the fight was stopped after the sixth round.

It’s never anything a brother would want to see, particularly not when he has a fight of his own coming up in two weeks in the same venue.

Rather than give him nightmares, though, Brandon Figueroa said his brother’s defeat has only served to inspire him as he prepares to face Luis Nery in a battle of unbeaten super bantamweight champions Saturday (10 p.m. ET, Showtime).

“It motivates me,” he told Yahoo Sports of his brother’s loss. “If you are a boxer, you understand that nights like that are part of the sport. Boxing is one of the most unique sports in that it requires a lot. I understand it. I understand the warrior mentality. It’s what makes boxing special. You have to be prepared to give it your all no matter what the circumstances.

“More than anything else, I wanted him to be safe. That’s the No. 1 thing. But to be able to compete in this sport, you have to accept that something like that might happen.”

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 23:  Brandon Figueroa arrives for his super bantamweight bout against Julio Ceja at MGM Grand Garden Arena on November 23, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)
Brandon Figueroa arrives for his super bantamweight bout against Julio Ceja at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Nov. 23, 2019 in Las Vegas. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

The bout with Nery figures to be a wild slugfest, given the styles of both fighters. Nery is 31-0 with 24 knockouts and is an aggressive, attacking fighter. That pretty much describes Figueroa, so this could be another of those Classics in Carson that Dignity Health Sports Park has become so known for hosting.

Figueroa noted several times that his plan is to move forward throwing punches.

Nery, though, is not only the best opponent he’s faced, but also one of the most powerful. So while attacking is his goal, he’s got to be cognizant at all times.

“My job is to go in there and fight and rough it out and if I have to mix it up, well, I have to mix it up,” Figueroa said. “That’s part of my style. I can box, I can brawl, whatever I need. I can do all sorts of things in there. But when it comes to brawling, that’s one of my main focuses. I have a style where I can get in there and hurt him with those body shots that I throw so well.

“If that’s how he wants to fight me, great, because I feel I’ll win that battle since I’m the stronger fighter. I’m just not sure how he plans to approach it, but whatever he does, I’ll be ready.”

Nery is hungry and motivated and recognizes that Figueroa is no soft touch. Even when the coaches aren’t around to watch him, he’s been on point, running on the treadmill or moving around in the ring to get ready.

He’s worked with a nutritionist to help him make the 122-pound limit more easily and he said he feels much stronger as a result.

Nery won the WBC title in September when he decisioned Aaron Alameda, but it ended his 11-fight knockout skein. He’s ready to pick it back up.

“My mentality is simple: It’s either me or him,” Nery said. “I don’t get in the ring thinking of getting to the final bell and potentially losing because of the judges. I am not leaving anything in the hands of the judges. I am going to be aggressive and I will be myself. I plan to win fighting in my style.”

And Figueroa plans to win fighting in his, which could lead to an explosive outcome.

“I know what I’m good at and I know I have the versatility to do different things in there,” Figueroa said. “But I feel I’m going to just take it to him and not give him a chance to try to box me or do anything tricky like that.”

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