Omar Figueroa Jr. baffled fans the night he boxed Abel Ramos.
Oddsmakers favored Figueroa when their welterweight bout was announced, but Figueroa’s poor, peculiar performance against Ramos in May 2021 left skeptics questioning the former WBC lightweight champion’s commitment to his boxing career. Ramos battered Figueroa for most of their entirely one-sided, six-round fight, in which Figueroa utilized an unusual style that wasn’t an approach Figueroa practiced during training camp for the Ramos match.
Fifteen months later, Figueroa still doesn’t have a plausible explanation for what happened to him during his technical-knockout loss to Ramos.
“We don’t know what happened,” Figueroa said during a virtual press conference Tuesday for his fight against Adrien Broner on August 20. “All I know is that I got in the ring and I didn’t feel my legs under me. And, you know, I feel like that would explain a lot of what transpired in the ring itself. But other than that, we’re doing our best to be in the best shape possible for this fight and that’s all we’re looking forward for.”
Ramos repeatedly hurt Figueroa to his head and body. Figueroa absorbed a lot of punishment during the sixth round and appeared to have difficulty catching his breath when he returned to his corner at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
Figueroa’s former trainer, Joel Diaz, decided to stop their bout before the seventh round began, which made Ramos the first opponent to stop Figueroa inside the distance in 31 professional fights. Before Ramos beat him by TKO, Figueroa’s only loss was a 12-round, unanimous-decision defeat to Yordenis Ugas in July 2019 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Figueroa didn’t fight during the 21 months between his losses to Ugas (27-5, 12 KOs) and Ramos (27-5-2, 21 KOs). The Weslaco, Texas native’s bout with Broner will be just his second fight in three years.
The 32-year-old Figueroa took a lot of time after Ramos beat him to address his mental health. The veteran fighter’s father, who has returned to his role as Omar’s head trainer, believes his son’s improved, positive outlook on life is helping him prepare better for the Broner bout than he has trained for most of his fights in recent years.
“I think he’s gonna be a lot different fighter, you know, on August 20th,” Omar Figueroa Sr. said. “Just hoping that, you know, both fighters come in great shape and put on a big show for the fans and wishing the best for both of the fighters, you know?”
The 12-round, 140-pound bout between Cincinnati’s Broner (34-4-1, 24 KOs, 1 NC) and Figueroa (28-2-1, 19 KOs) will headline a “Showtime Championship Boxing” tripleheader at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
The Dominican Republic’s Alberto Puello (20-0, 10 KOs) and Uzbekistan’s Batyr Akhmedov (9-1, 8 KOs) will fight for the vacant WBA super lightweight title in Showtime’s co-feature August 20. The telecast will begin with another 12-round championship match in which Venezuela’s Roger Gutierrez (26-3-1, 20 KOs) will defend his WBA super featherweight title against the Dominican Republic’s Hector Luis Garcia (15-0, 10 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.