Brandon Figueroa’s first choice was a rematch with Stephen Fulton Jr., who narrowly outpointed him in 2021, not a meeting with Mark Magsayo.
The former 122-pound titleholder acknowledged that he’s disappointed but he sees no point in dwelling on a fight that isn’t happening. His job, he said, is to beat the men placed in front of him. If he does, he believes, bigger opportunities – maybe even a second shot at Fulton – will come.
The Magsayo fight is set for Saturday in Ontario, California (Showtime).
“I just have to keep improving, keep fighting these top level fighters and keep winning. That’s my main goal,” Figueroa told Boxing Junkie.
Figueroa (23-1-1, 18 KOs) made a strong statement in defeat against the gifted Fulton, who had to dig deep within himself to win a majority decision in the title-unification bout in Las Vegas.
The loser thought he deserved the nod in that fight, which is one reason he wants a rematch. However, he put that aside temporarily when he moved up to 126 and stopped Carlos Castro in six rounds in his most-recent fight, last July.
And, of course, his focus now is on Magsayo, the Filipino who outpointed Gary Russell Jr. to win the WBC 126-pound belt only to lose it by decision to Rey Vargas in his subsequent fight on the same card as Figueroa-Castro.
The fight on Saturday is for the WBC’s “interim” 126-pound title, which eases the pain of not getting another shot at Fulton immediately.
“I know me and Mark will make another great fight,” Figueroa said. “And if everything goes according to plan, I’ll fight Rey Vargas or whoever wants to fight and go from there. … I’m still here fighting for world titles and that’s all I can ask for.
“I just want the opportunity to show my skills, go out and do what I do best, which is to fight. I can’t wait to do so on March 4.”
Magsayo (24-1, 16 KOs) was impressive against Russell, although the long-reigning champion fought with an injured shoulder. The new champ then got off to a slow start against the slick Vargas and couldn’t dig himself out of the hole.
Figueroa knows Magsayo is a genuine threat, although oddsmakers have the Texan as around a 2½-1 favorite.
“I know he has power, speed, timing, he’s really good at counterpunching, he has a lot of ability,” Figueroa said. “I just have to use my brain a little bit, use my abilities to my advantage, use my distance, box him a little bit, frustrate him and do what I do so well, which is to work the body.
“… I saw some mistakes on his part [in the Vargas fight]. Maybe it just wasn’t his night. Just from what I saw he lacked some little things that I definitely can highlight on Saturday.”
Does that mean we can expect a tactical fight?
Nah. That’s not Figueroa. He’s a battering ram that pounds your door until it crashes down upon you. He acknowledged that even if he boxes at times, the bout will evolve into a firefight.
“I feel like that will happen at some point,” he said with a smile. “… My goal is to be more defensive minded. But if I do see an opening, I’ll definitely take advantage of that and use my offense. … I’m simply going to go in there and do what I do best, which is to break you down.
“Work the body, work the head, throw punches from different angles, lefty, righty. I’m an arsenal. I can’t wait to display that on Saturday.”