Texan Brandon Figueroa makes the first defence of his new WBA regular super-bantamweight title against seasoned practitioner Julio Ceja at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas on the Wilder v Ortiz undercard. The fight will be broadcast by Fox in the USA and Sky Sports in the UK.
Figueroa was the holder of the WBA's Interim version of the 122lb crown but was elevated to regular titleholder when Danny Roman was, in turn, elevated to WBA super champion status. What a mess!
None of this should cast any blame or detract from the fighter's achievements, but as Figueroa has stated "I don't want to be given anything" eluding to the fact that champions should be allowed to win their titles in the ring.
At least Figueroa who turns 23 years old in December will get the chance to showcase his exciting style against a genuine contender on a big platform. He is great to watch and sets a pace that few will be able to match. As well as his fan-friendly style he carries the nickname "The Heartbreaker" because of his boyish good looks that I am sure his promoters and management will look to exploit in the future.
Figueroa (20-0-0, 15 Ko's) has been facing decent opposition since joining PBC. His Interim title-winning effort in April against Yonfrez Pajero at the Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, California was shown by Fox as part of the Danny Garcia vs Adrian Granados undercard which incidentally also had the Andy Ruiz Jr vs Alexander Dimitrenko 10 rounder on it.
An August defence in Edinburg, Texas against Javier Chacon (W, Ko4) gave the young champion a chance to perform in front of his home crowd, but now he must show the fans why they should follow his journey. Julio Chacon (32-4-0, 28 Ko's) is the perfect opponent for Figueroa from Weslaco, Texas. In June, Ceja had former WBO and WBA super-bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux on wobbly legs before being stopped in the 8th round. The stoppage seemed premature as Ceja didn't look hurt.
The 27-year-old Ceja won the Interim WBC 122lb title back in 2015, stopping the very useful Hugo Ruiz by 5th round stoppage only to lose the title back to his fellow countryman six months later. Ceja always comes to do battle and will not want to take a single backward step, so boxing fans will want to tune in for this fight, it looks to be action-packed while it lasts.
Both boxers have good stoppage records as well as good chins, but I have the feeling that the young Texan will raise his game now that he is on the biggest stage of his young career.
Prediction: Figuero to stop Ceja after the 7th round in a tough battle.