HOLLYWOOD, Florida – The age-old adage is that boxers don’t retire from this brutal sport, it retires them.
Omar Figueroa Jr. came to that painful realization in the immediate aftermath of his one-sided, technical-knockout loss to Sergey Lipinets on Saturday night at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Figueroa is just 32, yet he knows his body won’t allow the former WBC world lightweight champion to continue his career.
Figueroa announced during his emotional post-fight interview with Showtime’s Jim Gray that he’ll retire after a third straight defeat.
“I’m very disappointed about the outcome,” Figueroa said. “My team and I worked so hard during this training camp. My body has reached its limit. I’ve been doing this for 27 years and my body has finally said enough. I’m just sorry I’ve disappointed the fans. The change of opponents didn’t affect me. I think I’ve reached the end of the line here in boxing. It occupied my life for 27 years. My body just gave up. It didn’t respond.”
Lipinets replaced Adrien Broner, Figueroa’s original opponent, on only five days’ notice. Broner withdrew from their fight Monday morning to address mental health issues.
The former IBF junior welterweight champion dropped Figueroa in the second round and spent most of their 140-pound bout beating up a fighter who looked physically spent. A courageous Figueroa never stopped trying, but he mostly took flush punches while he pressed forward in this “Showtime Championship Boxing” main event.
Omar Figueroa Sr., who trains his son, stopped their scheduled 12-round fight following the eighth round.
Figueroa (28-3-1, 19 KOs), who fought for the first time in 15 months, has lost back-to-back bouts by TKO to Lipinets (17-2-1, 13 KOs) and welterweight contender Abel Ramos (27-5-2, 21 KOs). Former WBA welterweight champ Yordenis Ugas (27-5, 12 KOs) defeated Figueroa by unanimous decision in his 12-round bout before Figueroa lost to Ramos.
His lopsided loss to Lipinets ended a bittersweet day for Figueroa, whose wife gave birth to another daughter Saturday morning.
The Weslaco, Texas native still left the ring proud that he has been an advocate for people struggling with mental health issues.
Figueroa was diagnosed with bipolar disorder last year. He has undergone therapy and taken medication to treat his condition, and he plans to write a book about his experiences.
“I’m happy that I got to enjoy this last camp,” Figueroa said. “I had a great time. For everyone out there going through a tough time or [that is] in a dark place, I want to say, ‘Don’t you ever give up. Keep up the fight.’ ”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.