The former WBC 122-pound champion says he's better than ever as he prepares to make his featherweight debut against Carlos Castro in a WBC World Title Eliminator Saturday night on PBC on SHOWTIME.
Brandon Figueroa didn’t hide in his house nor did he sulk. The former WBC super bantamweight world champion reflected after his first loss as a professional last November.
For the first time, Figueroa will be entering the ring picking up the pieces after a defeat when he debuts as a featherweight against Carlos Castro Saturday night on SHOWTIME Championship Boxing® (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, in a Premier Boxing Champions event.
Figueroa (22-1-1, 17 KOs) says he’s learned from his majority-decision loss to Stephen Fulton; a super bantamweight title unification fight that turned into a raucous back-and-forth 2021 Fight of the Year candidate. He also admits that making 122 was beginning to affect his body, which forced the move to 126 and this WBC featherweight 12-round title eliminator against Castro (27-1, 12 KOs).
But overall, he says, nothing has changed.
The 25-year-old remains steadfast in his self-belief that he’s a winner. He also remains resolute that the Fulton loss came because of what he did not do, as opposed to anything Fulton did.
Perhaps the greatest push arrived in how he handled adversity for the first time in his professional career.
“I’m a winner, and that won’t change. I understand that I have to use my abilities better and I’m approaching this fight in tremendous shape; I can’t wait to get in there,” Figueroa said. “I took my first loss and no one is harder on me than I am on myself, above anything said or written. That whole week after I lost, I went back home and brushed it off. The beauty about boxing is that no matter what, you always start off at square one, even if you win. This was about me getting back up, to keep moving on, and moving forward and keep proving everyone wrong. I want to continue proving that I deserve to be in this sport and that I can rebound from a loss.
“You see the great champions like Manny Pacquiao, and (Juan Manuel) Marquez, that have constituted to me that they are the best and they’ve lost. If anything, a loss probably makes you better. It makes you stronger. To me, I love boxing and what happened was a miss, and I’ll admit that it hurt, obviously being my first loss, but I never ran away. To me, I didn’t really lose, but the loss is there.
“This will make me stronger and tougher.”
Figueroa prides himself on being a positive person. Yes, he says, that optimism received a jolt. He stressed, however, that it hasn’t changed him.
He arrived home, in Weslaco, Texas, and stayed within his tight cocoon, surrounding himself with family and friends for just over a week. The loss did not affect him the way he thought it would have. If anything, Figueroa was more anxious to get back into the gym.
As soon as the Fulton fight was made available to him, he watched it by himself and with his family.
Figueroa found himself watching more of what he was doing than observing Fulton, cursing at the screen over the mistakes he felt that he made during the fight.
“ This is a better version of myself. That’s what everyone will see on Saturday night, July 9. ” Former WBC World Super Bantamweight Champion - Brandon Figueroa
“I saw what was working and what didn’t,” Figueroa said. “I took a week and a half off, and I went back to the gym on my own. No one had to tell me to go back. I had to get back. I have to stop letting my anger in the ring get the best of me. I guess the second part of getting better is being more technical. I need to look for shots that make sense. I need to be more technical and use a boxing-type of style.
“I also have to adapt faster, especially moving up to 126 pounds. There are a lot of things that I have to work on. I’m not making 122 pounds. That’s non-existent. I train my butt off every time I fight. I was 110-percent the night I fought Fulton. I’m 5-foot-8, and I was struggling to make 122. I’ve been making 122 since I was 17. My body has grown. There was stress, a lot of stress. I’ve been battling an injury that I’ve had for years, but I can’t, and I won’t say that I went into the Fulton fight at 95-percent. No, I was full strength and 100-percent that night.”
Figueroa has been training for two months for the Castro fight. He says he knows Castro, 28, is a good fighter with an exciting style. He realizes both he and Castro will be looking to make an early statement at 126.
“I feel that I’ll be a lot stronger at 126, and my dad was telling me there is a difference in my hand speed on the mitts and when I hit the body-protector,” Figueroa said. “I feel stronger, I feel more explosive than I did at 122. If people were impressed with my conditioning at 122, just imagine what it’s going to be like at 126. This is a better version of myself. That’s what everyone will see on Saturday night, July 9.
“Castro will come to fight. He’ll bring out the best of me and I hope I bring the best out of him. I can’t wait to put everything together in eight-ounce gloves. What everyone will see is a better fighter overall, who uses the jab more and is more patient. I want to showcase my power and, of course, I’d like to fight Stephen Fulton again, this time at 126. That fight was fast-paced for me coming forward. I learned I need to apply pressure better and what I learned from the Fulton fight is to not come straight at him. I should have worked more angles. I didn’t really have much of a boxing background, but after that fight, I want to show people that I can box and I can brawl, when I need to. It’s something that I must adjust and become a little better at doing.
“At 126, this is the most comfortable I’ve felt in a while.”
For a closer look at Brandon Figueroa, check out his fighter page.