If ever there have been two former world champions arriving at the same point from distinctly different directions, they are Omar Figueroa Jr. and Robert Guerrero.
Before taking the last year and a half off because of injuries, Figueroa, 27, was a dominant presence in the ring, winning a world title at 135 pounds and chalking up an unbeaten record with an exciting, aggressive style.
Guerrero, 34, has won world titles at 126 and 130 pounds along with interim championships at 135 and 147, and battled the toughest boxers of his generation, but “The Ghost” now must show he’s still a formidable foe after losing three of his last four fights.
With both men having much to prove, Omar Figueroa Jr. (26-0-1, 18 KOs) and Robert Guerrero (33-5-1, 18 KOs) are set to battle Saturday night in a 147-pound showdown at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Long Island, New York (FOX, 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).
The 10-round bout headlines a card that also features Marcus Browne vs Seanie Monaghan in a matchup of 175-pound contenders and Artur Szpilka vs Adam Kownacki in a battle of Polish heavyweights on the FOX broadcast.
At Friday’s weigh-in, both fighters came in under the limit for the main event with no issues, as Figueroa hit the scale at 146.4 pounds and Guerrero was 146.6.
Fighting for the first time in 19 months, Figueroa will be competing at 147 pounds for the first time in his career. In a pair of unanimous decisions over Ricky Burns and Antonio DeMarco in his last two bouts in 2015, “El Panterita” weighed 141½ and 151, respectively, after never fighting above 139 pounds previously.
While the Weslaco, Texas, native plans on ultimately competing in the 140-pound division, he is not looking past Guerrero. Instead, he is relishing the opportunity to begin his quest for another world title against a proven ring warrior.
“Guerrero is one of the toughest challenges for any boxer,” Figueroa said. “He is a tough fighter, he doesn't back down and he doesn't quit. You have to go into the fight knowing it'll go the [distance] and there won't be any easy moment in the fight. But I'm prepared for that.”
“ Stylistically, we both like to go for it, so fans should expect to see a lot of hard shots being thrown in this fight. It's going to be a war. ” Robert Guerrero, on facing Omar Figueroa Jr. in a matchup of former world champions
While Guerrero is 2-4 in his last six fights after starting his career 31-1-1, it’s worth noting that three of those most recent losses came in 147-pound title bouts against unbeaten world champions Floyd Mayweather Jr., Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia.
But after subpar performances in a 10-round split decision over Aron Martinez in June 2015 and a 12-round split-decision loss to unheralded David Emanuel Peralta in his last fight in August, the 5-foot-9 southpaw is aware of the whispers that he’s washed up.
“I feel great going into this fight,” Guerrero said. “Me and [trainer/father Ruben Guerrero] have been working really hard on all aspects of my game. I hired a new CrossFit coach, Greg Amundson, and he's gotten me in great shape.
“Everyone will see an improvement in my all-around game. With my back against the wall going into this fight, I did everything possible in camp to be ready for Figueroa.”
Figueroa returned to working with Joel Diaz in Indio, California, in January after training with his father, Omar Figueroa Sr., for his previous three bouts. It was under Diaz’s guidance that Figueroa went 10-0 (7 KOs) and won his world championship before the fighter parted ways because he missed being away from his daughter during training camp.
Now a father of three, Figueroa has not only healed from hand and elbow injuries that have plagued his career during his downtime, but he is mentally recharged, as well.
“I like the challenge,” he said. “I like the adrenaline rush that I get.”
The 5-foot-7½ switch-hitter will surely be tested by Guerrero, who despite his recent struggles has still never been stopped in 41 professional fights.
“I'm always looking to battle the best possible fighters out there and Omar Figueroa is no different,” Guerrero said. “He's undefeated and looking to take his career to the next level but I have other plans.
“Figueroa has a come-forward style that I'll be prepared for. Stylistically, we both like to go for it, so fans should expect to see a lot of hard shots being thrown in this fight. It's going to be a war.”
For a complete look at Figueroa vs Guerrero, visit our fight page.