By Francisco Salazar
There is a saying that a dog's bark is worse than its bite. There could be a similar analogy in boxing as some fighters are all talk and do not back their talk in the ring.
Then again, maybe there are some fighters that reflect a saying that there bite is worse than their bark.
Maybe that is the case for Omar Figueroa. You will never see Figueroa engage in any smack talk before a fight. In fact, it is hard to get a full audible sentence out of him. The soft-spoken Figueroa has demonstrated many times that his fists do a lot of damage.
That is the plan on Saturday night when Figueroa steps into the ring to defend his lightweight world title belt against Jerry Belmontes at the Stubhub Center in Carson, CA. The 12 round bout will open the "Showtime Championship Boxing" telecast, beginning at 9PM ET/ 6PM PT.
Figueroa has not fought since winning a thrilling 12 round unanimous decision over Nihito Arakawa on July 27th in San Antonio, TX. Figueroa was scheduled to fight on the March 8th Golden Boy Promotions card in Las Vegas, NV, but had to withdraw from the fight when he injured a hand during training camp.
He will face a familiar foe on Saturday night in Belmontes. The two fighters know one another from growing up in South Texas and crossing paths. What makes it interesting is that Figueroa and Belmontes have faced each other a few times while fighting in the amateurs. Belmontes has the distinction of winning all their meetings.
Belmontes has been more brash in pre-fight interviews, going as far as saying Figueroa has not improved as a fighter from the amateur days. Figueroa has likely had to swallow talking back to Belmontes, but it comes with the territory.
Plus, it would go against his personality.
"I'm an easy-going guy," Figueroa told Boxingscene.com earlier this week. "I love to be a fighter. I'm really excited to get back in the ring. I missed the adrenaline. I feel pumped up."
"As for Belmontes, I want to exert revenge on him because he beat me when we were amateurs. I know people say it's different between the pro ranks and the amateurs. I just want to get in the ring."
While Figueroa has benefited from having his father and brother during training camp in Indio, Calif., he feels just as grateful to work with trainer Joel Diaz.
While it has been a culture shock for Figueroa to migrate to the Southern California desert from his hometown of Weslaco, Tex., it has all been it, especially working with a trainer like Diaz.
"Joel gets pretty intense," said the 24 year old Figueroa. "I'm the same way and I need someone like Diaz to push me. He's helped me a lot with defense and head movement. We make a great duet."
The sky is the limit for Figueroa, especially with having someone like Diaz in his corner. At an age when some young fighters do not take accountability, Figueroa acknowledges his faults in and out of the ring.
Despite an unbeaten record and a world title belt, Figueroa wants to get better as a fighter to ensure he has longevity as a fighter.
He is eager to get back in the ring and make a statement on Saturday night. That will be done with his fists and not with his mouth.
"Back in the amateurs, I took my defeat (to Belmontes) as a man. I don't do smack talk. I don't use my mouth to draw attention."
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. He also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, RingTV, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing