OMAR FIGUEROA: MOVING UP & WHO'S NEXT
By Ken Kenyon on Aug 27 2014
An accidental headbutt by Estrada in the eighth round seemed to temporarily upset Figueroa and put him on the back foot for the first time in the fight. The clash of heads opened up a deep cut above Figueroa's left eye and the break between the eighth and ninth saw Caiz examine both fighters. The Texan seemed unbothered by the cut coming out of his corner aggressively in the ninth. Figueroa showed he has a fighter's heart and unloaded on Estrada; flooring the Mexican within the first minuet. Estrada climbed off the canvas to be met by a relentless Figueroa barrage to which the challenger was unable to respond. Caiz was forced to stop the fight there and the statistics also told a story of Figueroa domination with the champion landing 229 punches to Estrada's 169.
When asked about the notable change in aggression that led to the stoppage, Figueroa explained, 'I didn't think I needed to end the fight because I felt I had him on the scorecards, so either way I felt I was going to win the fight. But I just didn't want it to end by them stopping it because of a headbutt. So I just went in there and put my plan into action and had to hurry it up a bit. I knew I was going to knock him out, I knew he was fading and I was saving myself for the later rounds.'
After blowing the top ten rated Estrada out of title contention in such dynamic fashion the natural question is what's next for Omar Figueroa? Following the fight the American champion reaffirmed the notion that he wants to move up to junior welterweight a sentiment he confirmed when T2T caught up with him; 'I want to move up in weight.' Given the level of talent in the current junior welterweight division the possibility a move in that direction for Figueroa is exciting for boxing fans.
From a fighter's perspective the move brings the potential for fights against bigger names. This with it brings larger viewing figures and in turn larger purses. Moving up in weight isn't without risks; Figueroa's combination of speed, power and movement is part of what has made him such a strong competitor at lightweight. There is always the concern that these attributes may be less effective against bigger fighters. Despite the inherent risks, for Figeroa it is about fighting the best, the champion making it clear he 'want[s] to challenge [him]self' something he seems confident about saying 'I'm not afraid of anybody it's not how I was built.'
This doesn't get any closer to answering the question is Omar Figueroa moving to junior welterweight? And unfortunately that seems to be something of an uncertainty currently, when quized on the matter Omar responded, 'we're going to make the decision as a team...so we'll have to wait and see.' If Panterita remains at 135lbs then Jorge Linares (37-3-0, 24 KOs) is the WBC's mandatory challenger. A successful defence followed by a unification bout against Vazquez (34-3-0, 13 KOs) or Crawford (24-0-0, 17 KOs) would really leave Figueroa nothing to prove as a lightweight. Alternatively several names at 140lbs have been floated and when asked who he'd most like to fight the Texan made it clear he is open to fighting anyone at the top of the division. He went on to make comment on his sparring history with Danny Garcia; 'I don't want to down play Danny, but I didn't have a hard time with him.' Rumours and potential match ups aside, Figueroa made it clear the decision regarding weight will be made soon; 'they (promoters and managers) want to get together and talk about what's going to happen...and if I really can or cannot make 135 anymore.' But it's clear that both options offer something of interest and the young champion's style and talent result in fights that even the most casual fan can enjoy.
1. FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR.
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