Brandon Figueroa has spent his entire career listening to people tell him what he can’t do, only to continue to prove them wrong.

That trend held true Saturday evening following a 7th round knockout of previously unbeaten WBC junior featherweight titlist Luis Nery at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. It’s a storyline he expects to resurface ahead of his September 11 title unification clash with WBO champ Stephen Fulton.

“I know everybody has doubted me; it’s just hard work,” Figueroa said following the biggest win of his career before shifting the focus from Nery to Fulton. “We’ve been waiting a while for this fight. I knew that to get to September we had to get through this fight with Luis Nery.

“I envisioned that I was going to beat Luis Nery and I envisioned that I'm going to fight Stephen Fulton. Let's get it.” 

Nery was as much as a -350 betting favorite entering the night, with the two-division titlist from Tijuana expected to prevail by knockout. Figueroa (22-0-1, 16KOs)—a baby-faced 24-year-old from Weslaco, Texas—was viewed by as much as a +250 underdog by those same handicappers, though prepared to once again show that he’s far more than just a pretty boy.

Figueroa was determined to go punch for punch with the heavy-handed Nery, all but abandoning his jab—landing just 4-of-115 according to final Compubox statistics—to prove his mettle. Supreme conditioning was key, with Figueroa picking up steam at the midway point of their Showtime-televised main event. Nery was visibly fatigued by round seven, at which point Figueroa closed the show. A right uppercut rocked Nery’s chin, with a left uppercut to the body producing the knockout blow.

The win set up a mouthwatering showdown with Philadelphia’s Fulton (19-0, 8KOs), who was seated ringside for the event and is already viewed as a considerable favorite to prevail in September.

“I know he’s going to come with everything,” notes Figueroa. “That means I have to prepare 110% again just like we did with this fight and we’re going to give fans a heck of a show.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox