NABF light welterweight champion Frankie “El Gato” Figueroa feels every fight is like a chess match and he plans to put former 2-time world champion Randall Bailey into a checkmate position Friday night on ESPN2 during their scheduled 12-round IBF title eliminator in Memphis. The winner between IBF No. 3 rated Bailey (38-6, 34 KOs) and No. 6 ranked Figueroa (20-2, 13 KOs) will earn a title shot against IBF champion Juan Urango..
Figueroa, riding a 12-fight win streak dating back to 2004, broke camp today in southern Florida and tomorrow he heads to Memphis. “Bailey’s a big banger who uses a single punch – right hand – to stop most of his opponents,” Figueroa said. “I’m not worried about what he’s bringing, more about what adjustments will be made during the fight. The key is figuring out your opponent and making the key adjustments to win. I’m very confident. I love to fight and this is what I do – fight! Figuring out a fighter and making adjustments in the mix is like playing chess. Both fighters come into the fight with a game plan but adjustments have to be made during the fight. I have to put him into a checkmate position to win the fight and reach my goal of winning a world title. I’m not looking past him, but I have one eye on Urango because that’s what drives me. It’s part of me, part of my goal, to be world champion. I’ve overcome obstacles to reach this point and I need to win this fight to have a shot at winning a world title.”
Also rated No. 11 by the WBC and No. 14 by the WBA, the 30-year-old Puerto Rican-American, born in Spanish Harlem and fighting out of the Bronx, is now handled by Roy Jones, Jr.’s Square Ring Promotions.
“I’m in the best shape of my career,” Figueroa added. “This training camp has been the best due to my manager, Sal LoNano, sending me to Boston for training at Mike Boyle’s for strength and conditioning. It continued in Florida with some great work with my trainer, Eggie Martinez, and valuable sparring sessions.”
Shumenov takes on another former world champion May 9 vs. Berrio in Kazakhstan
LAS VEGAS (April 1, 2009) – Two of the most exciting fighters in boxing will battle May 9th when world-rated light heavyweight contender Beibut Shumenov takes on former IBF super middleweight champion Alejandro “Naco” Berrio for the vacant IBA light heavyweight championships, as well as Shumenov’s WBO Asia Pacific and WBC Asian Boxing Council titles, outdoors at Khadjimukan Stadium in Shumenov’s hometown of Chimkent, Kazakhstan.
Shumenov-Berrio will be the 12-round main event on a card presented by KZ Event Productions, Inc., which is owned by the Shumenov brothers, Beibut and Chingis, and based in Las Vegas.
2004 Kazakhstan Olympian sensation Shumenov (7-0, 5 KOs), the 2008 WBC Asian Boxing Council Organization’s Boxer of the Year, who also holds the PABA light heavyweight belt, is already rated No. 8 by the WBA, No. 9 by the WBO and No. 16 by the WBC. His most notable win was a one-sided victory by 12-round decision (120-107, 120-108, 120-108) against former WBC title-holder Montell “Ice” Griffin (50-8, 30 KOs) last August in Kazakhstan.
Beibut’s last action was an impressive performance in Washington last December against former world title challenger Epifanio “Diamente” Mendoza (28-6-1), who was coming off a controversial loss to former world champion Jeff Lacy, easily winning on points by scores of 100-90, 98-92 and 97-93.
“All of us involved with KZ Event Productions are really looking forward to returning home to fight another world champion, Alejandro Berrio,” Beibut said. “I’ve really enjoyed being on the promotional side but, as we get closer to a fight, I’ll concentrate on training and my brother, Chingis, will handle all of the operations.“I’ve put myself on the fast track to fight the top light heavyweights in the world — (Roy) Jones, (Glenn) Johnson and (Clinton) Woods, etc. We offered to fight several of these guys but they all turned us down. I want to promote and fight in the United States after the May 9 show. Maybe we can get one of the major networks involved so one of the top light heavyweights will finally agree to fight me. All I am looking for is to fight the very best and to be judged on my ability, not by the number of pro fights I’ve had so far. Look at whom I’ve beaten, not just the number. After Berrio, I’ll be willing to fight anybody in the world. Line them up and I’ll knock them all down.”
Bolivian knockout artist Berrio (28-5, 27 KOs), fighting out of Colombia, has been the distance only once in 33 pro fights, knocking out 27 of 28 victims, stopped in all five of his losses.
Berrio’s resume includes two victories against Robert Stiegltiz, in 2007 for the IBF super middleweight title, Syd Vanderpool and Yusaf Mack. Alejandro lost his IBF belt in 2007 to present holder Lucian Bute.
“Berrio isn’t coming to Kazakhstan just for a payday,” Shumenov noted. “He’s a very dangerous fighter but I am, too. They’ll be fireworks May 9, not just to celebrate my homecoming, but in the ring with two great warriors. Berrio has fought some of the best super middleweights in the world and now he’s moving up to fight me. I’m learning every time out and improving with each fight. I can’t wait for May 9th.”
The newest member of KZ Event Productions’ stable, unbeaten Uzbekistan light heavyweight prospect Gayratjon Ahmedov (10-0-1, 6 KOs), 4-time Uzbekistan national amateur champion, is scheduled to make his KZ debut on the May 9 card against an opponent to be determined.