Brandon Figueroa breaks another heart as Filipino falters
Plus, KO wins for Ohara and Gassiev while Inoue fights Fulton
Whenever Brandon Figueroa fights you can pretty much guarantee there’s going to be excitement. After round one of his tangle with Mark Magsayo, Showtime analyst Al Bernstein laid out Brandon’s keys to victory. Bernstein posited that the 26-year-old would need to be aggressive but not over aggressive and hunt down the body.
These were the sort of strategies Figueroa employed against Luis Nery (who was finished off by relentless assaults to the body) and Stephen Fulton (who managed to withstand the onslaughts to hand Figueroa his only career loss so far). Nicknamed ‘The Heartbreaker’ for his boyish looks, young Brandon is equally adept at breaking the heart and will of his opponents with continuous forward motion.
Photo credit: Bad Left Hook
In the early stages Magsayo counter punched effectively, dropping the left hook every time Figueroa dipped in to hunt the body. While his early efforts to stay off the ropes, box and move proved fruitful, as the bout wore on the Filipino understandably tired and was deducted a point in round eight after numerous warnings for holding.
Struggling with Figueroa’s body shots, Magsayo was clinging on again in the 11th when ref Thomas Taylor struck off another point. Mark managed to make it to the final bell and it was a close fight according to Showtime scorer Steve Farhood who had it 114-112 to Figueroa’s. The judges saw it differently, all totalling a lot wider in favour of the new WBC Interim featherweight champion who will next defend against Rey Vargas, seated at ringside.
The end appears nigh for former unified super-welterweight world champion Jarrett Hurd who was medically retired with a severe lip laceration after 10 punishing rounds against Jose Armando Resendiz. Hurd initially tried to box off the back foot, using his jab more than usual. Throwing the right hand with vicious intent to both head and body, Resendiz sensed his foe was weakening and piled on the pressure.
The Mexican has notably improved since hooking up with Manny Robles and was too fresh for a withered ‘Swift’ who has been plagued by lengthy spells of inactivity. Whenever the doctor shook his head to signal the end of the fight, it was almost as if he was calling time on Hurd’s impressive career at the top level.
Back in 2014, Amilcar Vidal Jr was hit by a truck. Thankfully the Uruguayan survived that ordeal but he was ill equipped to deal with the volume of traffic coming his way on the Showtime opener.
Competing against a southpaw, Vidal is a fan of rolling out his right hand, which was always going to be a key weapon. Vidal failed to utilise that punch, or his excellent left jab, to good effect and spent too much time leaning on the inside or hanging around on the ropes against Elijah Garcia.
As you know, boxing is a crazy sport. Join Steve as he picks through the madness like a prime James Toney. It’s completely FREE and each post lands straight in your inbox every Friday 👇
Unheralded as a prospect, 19-year-old Garcia was extremely confident going in that he would be able to upset an opponent who boasted a top 10 ranking. Garcia threw crisply to the body, hard and often. Vidal tried to tag the body himself while mixing in his trademark uppercuts. This caused Garcia a bloody nose, which might have become a fatigue factor had the fight gone late.
Elijah had no designs on testing his stamina after catching Vidal with a right hook in the fourth round that stunned the fight favourite. Garcia jumped right on him and piled on the pressure. Referee Jack Reiss’ intervention seemed premature at first but Vidal did not complain.
TV replays confirmed that he was hurt and ready to go after the first honey punch. In no way overawed by the occasion, Garcia proceeded to give an engaging interview with Jim Gray, proving that the new WBC Latino champion is an entertainer on both sides of the ropes.
OHARA EYES WORLD TITLES AFTER RITSON RIB TICKLER
A far cry from the ‘Geordie Golovkin’ who burst on to the scene with a win over Robbie Barrett, Lewis Ritson has visibly aged over recent years, sporting the bald head and rugged beard of a fight veteran.
At his peak he was a power puncher who overwhelmed people with brute force. He found his level pretty quickly and it was a good level too. No shame in sweeping up in British title class. Ritson was way too easy to hit against Ohara Davies, offering only one dimensional attacks last Saturday evening in the Newcastle Arena.
Despite securing an eventual crack at the WBA super-lightweight title, Davies is no world beater himself. The Hackney hacker possesses an awkward style, long arms and a bit of pop in his punches. His finishing left hook to the body was an absolute cracker and Ritson was still feeling the sting 10 minutes later.
It’s a shame such a good domestic dust-up was so badly attended and promoted. It was a rough evening all round for North East promoter Phil Jeffries as both Ritson and Tommy Ward failed to come out of the other side.
Regarding the world title situation, Ohara Davies is now in a queue waiting for his shot. Champion Alberto Puello (who defeated Batyr Akhmedov for a portion of the WBA titles after the lesser spotted Josh Taylor handed his ‘Super’ belt back) defends against Rolando Romero on May 13. The evergreen Ismael Barroso apparently awaits the winner. Then Ohara will slide in for a shot, providing he hasn’t lost the will to live by that point.
TIME FOR GASSIEV TO HIT THE GAS AFTER BALOGUN BEATDOWN
Murat Gassiev needs to get a move on if he’s to trouble the upper echelons of the heavyweight division. The former IBF and WBA cruiserweight champion has been in stasis ever since losing to Oleksandr Usyk in the final of the World Boxing Super Series.
Usyk made Gassiev look one dimensional and slow paced in that contest, which is no shame given the Ukrainian’s vast skillset. After that loss, Gassiev has badly struggled to rebuild and his move up in weight the Russian has been grossly inactive.
Funny business? The lads weren’t too enamoured by Balogun’s efforts
Knocking out Mike Balogun last Friday evening in Armenia appears to be a move in the right direction given Balogun’s flattering 20-0 record. Following a sedentary sparring session in round one, Gassiev landed a right hand in the second that had the Maryland mover scrambling across the canvas.
Even a dramatically slow count from the referee was not enough to persuade Balogun to rise. The former NFL player did not offer any form of resistance and was quite happy to crumble in the face of adversity. Gassiev needs much better opponents - and quick.
It’s official, Naoya Inoue and Stephen Fulton will meet on May 7 in Yokohama, Japan. No doubt this is an enthralling clash of styles and personalities. Since clearing out the 118-pound division Inoue’s next move has been eagerly anticipated as he seeks out fresh challenges.
Photo credit: Top Rank Boxing
Moving up to 122 to face a super-talented unified champion is a statement of intent. This promises to be a lot closer than people think and may come down to sway of location in the eyes of the judges.
About Steve: Experienced boxing writer, author of 8 books and podcaster of over 400 eps. 15+ years in the sport. Covered hundreds of shows for newspapers and Boxing News magazine. Chief script writer for Motivedia channel. For enquiries: email@example.com.
Good article to read. Well Informed. Enjoyed that.