The first two fights on the Showtime PBC card set a serious standard that the main event would find difficult to match…but it lived up to its bill. It’s ironic that Brandon Figueroa’s (22-0-1, 17KO) nickname is “Heartbreaker”…well tonight, he landed a left uppercut to the heart that broke his opponent, so the name is apropos in different context. He was able to knockout previously unbeaten Luis “Pantera” Nery (31-1-0, 24KO) in round 7 to win his first true title, taking the WBC green strap from Nery, and has plans to collect more in September.
Figueroa started the bout off with a lot of nervous energy, but eventually worked his way to a rhythm by the middle of round 1. Early on, Nery landed a nice shot as Figueroa was coming in, getting the attention of the younger fighter, feeling his power for the 1st time.
Figueroa’s gameplan was to live, and shift on the inside, attack the body with hooks and uppercuts, then dart inside to tie Nery up to stop return fire, and rough him up a little bit, as Figueroa has more natural strength for this weight class, while Nery recently moved up. Nery displayed a constant attack to the body, and appeared to have the upper-hand in the first couple rounds, making his presence felt.
The third round, both fighters dug their feet in the canvas, and lived inside, engaging in multiple feverish exchanges, looking to enact dominance in the middle of the ring. Round 4, the southpaw Nery bounced outside a little more to fight off the backfoot, perhaps a sign of either tiring, or understanding that he was losing momentum inside that he established early. Figueroa heavily pressed the action, as his punch volume rose, putting the pressure on Pantera Nery.
This would be the theme of the fight for the next couple rounds, despite the biased commentary from the usually reliable Hall-of-Famer Al Bernstein and the Showtime Commentary team, who often glossed over the effective volume work that Figueroa was inflicting, neglected the short in between punches that Brandon was sneaking in, and harping on the more showy shots that Nery was able to land.
In the 7th round early, you could see the high punch volume begin to bother Nery, as he was unable to match the ferocity that Figueroa put forth in the round. In a big exchange between the two at the backend of the same round, Figueroa landed a right hook to the jaw, and a perfectly placed left uppercut to the body (the solar plexus to be exact), that caused a delayed reaction. Nery after finishing firing a couple punches, winced in pain, and slumped down to the canvas. He never got up to beat the 10-count, and just like that, Figueroa picks up the biggest victory of his career, further putting himself on the map by now becoming a true world titlist, hoisting the WBC strap from Nery’s grasp.
We now know what is next up on the horizon, and that is for Brandon Figueroa, and WBO Junior-Welterweight world titlist Stephen “Cool Boy” Fulton (19-0-0, 8KO) to meet on September 11th for a Unification match to bridge 2 of the 5 titles together. Apparently the have a rivalry, spawned by some verbal spats over time, and both appear eager to settle it in the ring. That will certainly be a bout to look forward to., as the 122 lb. division continues to heat up.