By Jake Donovan
Omar Figueroa graduated from rising prospect to budding contender after an explosive first round knockout of Abner Cotto in a matchup of unbeaten lightweights Saturday evening in San Antonio, Texas.
The win marked the second straight opening round stoppage for Figueroa – both of which have come in San Antonio. The Weslaco native appeared in town last month, needing just 47 seconds to blow past Henry Aurud.
More time was necessary to get past Cotto, though not by a lot. Figueroa scored two knockdowns, one midway through the round and one to end the fight at 2:57 of the opening round. He has now fought twice in a row in San Antonio, though not giving the local fans much time to check him out.
“It's completely worth it,” Figueroa said of the training sessions that last much longer than his recent in-ring results. “We want to get to the world titles. (This is) just another steppingstones to get there.”
The 23-year old lightweight broke through to the big time with an 8th round knockout of Michael Angel Perez last January, a fight that went exactly as he predicted. Figueroa expected to get outboxed early before blasting out Perez, which is precisely how the fight turned out.
Admittedly, Figueroa was ready for more a challenge but knew from the moment he landed flush.
“He was already hurt. Those body shots, they linger for a while,” Figueroa said when recalling the early moments of the brief affair. “You don't get rid of them quickly. I knew we would catch him again. We were just waiting for the opening and it came.”
Cotto went down twice in the round, the second time for the full ten count as Figueroa stamped his arrival as a fierce knockout artist.
“All these fans spend their hard earned money. I hope they enjoyed the fight,” Figueroa said of the 38,000 fans in attendance. “We'll do it again, any time of the day.”
How soon he’ll do it again remains to be seen. The bout was his second in the span of less than two months, even if neither bout lasted very long. Still, preparation for each fight including lengthy training camps, including significant time spent training with unbeaten welterweight Tim Bradley while both prepare for separate fights in March.
For now, rest and relaxation appear on the menu before Figueroa gears towards a summer rush.
“I'm gonna take my time off like I should. We worked really hard. I'm going to enjoy my family, enjoy my daughter. We'll see what my team gets for me.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox