Omar Figueroa: I just want to fight the best!
This Saturday, on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto, undefeated prospect Omar Figueroa (15-0, 12 KOs) returns to the ring to take on Robbie Cannon (12-6, 6 KOs) in a six round bout at lightweight. The 22 year-old from Weslasco TX. is coming off a six round stoppage over previously unbeaten Michael Perez (15-0-1, 9 KOs) where he won the vacant WBO youth lightweight strap. Figueroa would unfortunately lose that belt on the scale two months later after failing to make weight for his fight with Ramon Ayala. Despite losing the title, he defeated Ayala by second round KO and now looks to secure his sixteenth straight win.
I caught up with the Texan just days before he packed up camp in the Coachella Valley and made his way to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas NV.
Here’s what the young fighter had to say:
DS: Your fighting this weekend on the undercard of Mayweather vs. Cotto, how do you feel fighting on such a huge card like that?
Figueroa: It’s exciting but it’s just a foreshadowing of things to come. We’ve been working hard, staying dedicated and I think we deserve this.
DS: The magnitude, the atmosphere of this card, does that pump you up?
Figueroa: Yea, we had a chance to get a fight on TV and this fight. we had a choose between which one we wanted. Before we would definitely taken the TV fight. But I’ve already fought on TV several times. I can fight on TV when ever I want now, I think that I have earned that right or that perk I guess. We decide to take the chance and fight on a big undercard like this. We know that there will be a lot of important people there, big sponsors and big corporations, just bigger things. We are thinking if we fight on this card and look good and impress people, it will open up even more doors when it comes to endorsements, sponsorships or even big fight opportunities.
DS: You had a stellar performance on ShoBox against Mikey Perez, tell me about that.
Figueroa: That really was a game changer. That’s what I guess propelled us 50 steps forward from where we were. We met our goals for 2012 in that fight. We had goals for 2012 and in that single fight we reached those goals, 5 days into the year. It was a great fight. We took a chance, never backed down and it paid off.
DS: He was undefeated just like you, but you seemed to be stronger, at what point did you think, I got this guy?
Figueroa: Before the fight. I knew I was going to win. I go into the ring with that mentality. I think boxing is, as much as it is physical, it’s ten times more mental. I went in there knowing that I was going to win, knowing that I worked hard enough to finish this guy off and went in there wanting to make this guy quit. I had the training to back it up, I had the right mentality and that’s what made the difference.
Ds: The Showtime commentators mentioned you had sort of a doubt about that fight, Was that because you were going up against another rising prospect?
Figueroa: I knew I was suppose to lose that fight. well at least that’s how they had it planned. It was for both of us but I felt like it was more of an opportunity for him. They set it up for him, that fight was for him to look good. For him to be where I’m at right now. But they knew I had potential too so it was a win-win for them no matter how it ended. We were both with Golden Boy, undefeated prospects, similar in physique and fighting style. He was more of a boxer and I’m more of a brawler but we both like action.
It was a win-win for the crowd and that’s really what I care about. The crowd got what they wanted, a great fight. I see the comments on Youtube and people love that fight. That’s what we’re here for, we’re entertainers. We’re like gladiators fighting in the coliseum. Fans want to see us brawl to the death.
DS: Was there any point where you thought, I can’t let this go to the scorecards?
Figueroa: I never thought that, I don’t ever think that. I go in there and do my job, which is to fight. If I end up knocking him out, I end up knocking him out. If I don’t, I don’t. What matters is, I’m going to give it my all.
Win or lose the fans are going to want to see you because you put up a good fight..
DS: You won the WBO Youth lightweight title in that fight but lost it on the scale in your next fight against Ramon Ayala, can you tell me a little bit about that.
Figueroa: Yea, um.. a lot of stuff happened before that fight and I wasn’t even sure if I was going to end up fighting or not. I ended up hurting my hand, ended up getting sick twice. No excuses, I should have prepared for that but I didn’t. I came here, I did my best, I lost over 20 pounds, I did my best trying to lose the weight but I just didn’t do it. I just fell short. We have to learn from our mistakes and move forward.
DS: How did it feel to work so hard and lose the title that way, on the scale.
I just want to fight the best. I don’t care who it is or what weight they’re in. Whatever weight I’m at, I just want to fight the best. -Omar Figueroa
Figueroa: Well, I didn’t really care for the title. I don’t care for any title. I just want to fight. As long as I can keep getting fights, I know the fans will want to see me.
If I keep doing good, If I keep winning, the titles will come eventually. So I don’t pay much attention to titles. I’m not yearning for more titles. My goal is to train hard, make weight and win.
DS: Your a couple days away and this time you came to training camp with Joel Diaz earlier than usual, why is that?
Figueroa: Just because, like last time I didn’t make weight. It was just a precautionary move on our part. The weight seems to be going a lot smoother than last time. I just don’t want to go through that again because it is disrespectful to the sport of boxing. Especially if your the title holder and you lose it to the scale.
It was a big disappointment. I was disappointed in myself but like I said, a lot of things happen that people don’t know about. A lot of people don’t know the ugly side of boxing. They go out and watch the fights and say ‘oh these guys get paid millions to fight, man they’re over paid’ but they don’t know what a boxer goes through, what a boxer has to sacrifice. They don’t know how hard it is.
DS: After this fight, do you plan on moving up to 140 or will you say at 35?
Figueroa: I can make 35 easy. It just depends on how hard I want to make it on myself. I just have to discipline myself.
DS: Do you feel comfortable training here in the Coachella Valley?
Figueroa: I love working out here. I love the running. I look forward to the workouts, It’s just an incredible atmosphere. I’ve never been around anything like this before. There are so many knowledgeable people that know about boxing, you learn from here and there, and train along side boxers like Timothy Bradley, Vicente Escobedo, a lot of good amateurs and a lot of good pro’s that are just starting but are headed to good places. So there’s a lot of good sparing, a lot of good boxing around.
DS: Getting past this fight on May 5th, is there anybody you have your eye on?
Figueroa: I’ve always said; I just want to fight the best. I don’t care who it is or what weight they’re in. Whatever weight I’m at, I just want to fight the best. It’s mainly, I guess a pride thing. To see how good I am or not. That’s why I liked the fight against Michael Perez.
DS: Is it safe to say, you like putting yourself to the test?
Figueroa: Yea, that’s what this sport is for. I mean what’s the point if your not going to want to be the best? What are you doing?
DS: There’s a lot of fighters that don’t, they want to take the easy road.
Figueroa: That’s why I feel bad for my kids. If my kids join something, he’s not going to join to play the bench. He’s not going to be a bench warmer. If he plays baseball, he’s going to be the starting first baseman, pitcher or shortstop. He’s going to play and go 100%.
DS: Talking about baseball, you were a star player. How did you make the conversion to boxing?
Figueroa: It was never a conversion, it was always baseball and boxing. I started playing baseball before boxing because you can start at a younger age. So I played t-ball and all that when I was 4 years-old. I didn’t start boxing til I was 6.
DS: How is it coming from a small town like Weslaco TX. In terms of amateur experience or any boxing did you have to travel out?
Figueroa: Yea, there wasn’t too much boxing. Now, the RGV, the Rio Grand Valley is getting a lot of attention when it comes to boxing. whether it’s because of me or Robert Garcia, whatever it is, Boxing is getting big in the valley. ESPN was just there, Telefutura was just there within weeks and Valley fighters filled those cards. Great things are happening for a lot of people and if I’m part of that, I’m glad.
DS: How does it feel to have shed some light on Weslaco TX. as far as boxing.
Figueroa: It feels great knowing I was the first from there to be signed by Golden Boy and after that, the Valley started getting a lot of attention. Valley fighters are great, there’s a lot of talent in the valley and I know there are a lot of kids that are going to make from there.
DS: Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans?
Figueroa: Just be ready for another good fight. I’m here to fight. It’s a fight to the death with me so if I’m going to go out, the guy better be willing to kill me because I will not go out on my 2 feet!