Unbeaten 122-pound contender Figueroa—the younger brother of former champion Omar Figueroa Jr.—looks to make the most of his headlining status, while the Colombian tries to propel himself back into title contention.
It’s the kind of back-and-forth action that fits perfectly for tomorrow night’s PBC on FS1/FOX Deportes main event (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) at Citizens Bank Arena in Ontario, California.
The 21-year-old Figueroa (16-0, 11 KOs), whose nickname is “The Heartbreaker” because of his matinee idol looks, is the younger brother of former lightweight world champion Omar Figueroa. Like his older brother, Omar utilizes a swarming, brawling style. He switches stances between orthodox and southpaw to show his opponent different looks and keep him from getting comfortable. He likes to stay in the pocket, rolling with some of the return fire but focusing mostly on his own offense—he does indeed take one to land one (or two, or three).
Perhaps the most effective aspect of Figueroa’s attack is his activity. He has no problem letting his hands go, and he often goes downstairs. While he's not a one-punch knockout fighter, the sheer number of punches he throws is incredibly difficult to deal with. Like many swarming boxers, Figueroa counts on his activity to help keep his opponent’s hands at home, while he catches his foe with as many clean shots as possible. It’s resulted in stoppages of four of his last six opponents. The young Figueroa also fights fairly frequently: in 2017, he fought four times, and Sunday’s bout will be his third so far this year.
Escandon (25-4, 17 KOs) is a 2004 Olympian hailing from Colombia. With somewhere around 200 amateur fights, and having given top opposition like WBC featherweight world champion Gary Russell Jr. a tough out till the end, Escandon’s experience is his chief advantage heading into the Figueroa bout.
Escandon, nicknamed “El Guerrero” employs a more measured style than Figueroa. The orthodox fighter focuses on accuracy and timing, looking for openings offered by his opponent. His money punch, the overhand right—which he sometimes uses as a lead punch—is damaging if it lands cleanly.
Escandon uses his smaller stature to his advantage, getting underneath his typically taller opponent’s punches to land his own. Against Robinson Castellanos, Escandon was able to get inside on his opponent despite a dramatic height and reach disadvantage. He’ll attempt to do the same against Figueroa, who wields a 6.5-inch height and 6-inch reach advantage over the older fighter.
At 34-years old and coming off of two stoppage losses (to Tugstsogt Nayambayar and Gary Russell, Jr.), Escandon is not as fresh as Figueroa. He also has a tendency to move in and out in a straight line, which could make it easier for Figueroa time him and to land.
But there’s a reason experience is a major consideration when evaluating any contest. Youth and freshness are important, but the intelligence, instinct, and muscle memory Escandon has developed in 29 fights plus his extensive amateur background will only serve to help him on Sunday. And the tough veteran is always there to win.
Will Figueroa’s hustle wear Escandon down and prevent him from pulling the trigger? Or will Escandon’s precision spell trouble for the offensive-minded Figueroa?
It’s difficult to say how this bout will play out, but it’s nearly guaranteed that this contest will be a toe-to-toe, thrilling one. Either Escandon will propel himself back into title contention, or Figueroa will earn the right to challenge the sharks at the top of the junior featherweight and featherweight division.
Regardless of which way it goes, the fans win.
For a closer look at Figueroa vs Escandon, check out our fight page.