ABOUT THE FIGHTERS
Omar Figueroa became the WBC Lightweight Champion on July 27, 2013 after winning a unanimous decision against Japanese champion Nihito Arakawa in Figueroa’s home state of Texas. The bout was a 12-round, brutal but fan-friendly fight that resulted in both fighters taking the rest of 2013 off.
A hand injury suffered in his bout against Arakawa forced Figueroa to withdraw from his scheduled March title defense against Canelo Alvarez’s older brother, Ricardo Alvarez. This led to Figueroa scheduling an April 26, 2014 bout against former amateur boxing rival Jerry Belmontes.
Although Figueroa is undefeated and favored to win Saturday night’s bout, Belmontes has a colorable claim that he has Figueroa’s number.
First, Belmontes has made a reputation for himself as a spoiler of sorts for fighters in Figueroa’s position. Just last month, Will Tomlinson, an unbeaten fighter out of Australia, planned on beating Belmontes in his U.S. debut. However, Belmontes had other plans, winning a 10-round unanimous decision and handing Tomlinson his first professional loss.
What is even more interesting going into this bout is the history between the two fighters. Both boxers from the same state, the two athletes have undoubtedly met in the amateur circuits. Notably, Figueroa has never beaten Belmontes in their multiple amateur bouts. Belmontes has gone so far as to say that he “beat the crap” out of Figueroa and “made him cry.”
“I remember beating his ass five times actually. I guess that the last two times, I punished him because I stopped him the last two times we fought,” said Belmontes.
According to Figueroa, Belmontes is embellishing. Figueroa claims that Belmontes beat him only three times, and adds “I was like 11, 12 years old.” Saturday night, Figueroa looks to avenge these amateur losses.
“[Belmontes] hasn’t really fought anybody with my talent level or with the kind of talent that I have,” said Figueroa. “He’s fought everybody who comes forward and stay right there and they like to get hit. But I’m going to show him what a real boxing lesson is.”
One thing is certain, Belmontes is not fighting a 12-year-old amateur Saturday night. Rather, he is facing an undefeated professional who is a current world champion.
Expect Figueroa to attack Belmontes’ body, taking air out of the proverbial tires as trainer Teddy Atlas would say.
Boxing observers should also expect to see Figueroa win a unanimous decision in an action-packed, fan-friendly bout. Figueroa vs. Belmontes is the first of a three-fight card to be broadcast on Showtime Saturday, April 26, 2014.
Bill Barner is a former certified “USA Boxing” Judge, Referee, and Trainer. He is a former sparring partner for several amateur and professional fighters and currently practices law in South Florida for BarnerRossen PA.