The next fight for Brandon Figueroa takes place at a venue that will forever hold a special place in his heart.
It was at Dignity Health Sports Park where the unbeaten junior featherweight claimed his first title, winning an interim version of the WBA 122-pound crown in an April 2019 knockout win over Yonfrez Parejo. The feat marked the lone career appearance at the famed Carson, California venue for Figueroa, who makes a triumphant return this weekend in a title unification clash versus two-division and reigning WBC 122-pound titlist Luis Nery (31-0, 24KOs).
As was the case for a Fox Sports Pay-Per-View event just two weeks ago, fans will be permitted in attendance. The backdrop will provide a far cry from Figueroa’s lone post-pandemic ring appearance, a 10th round stoppage of Damien Vazquez behind closed doors last September 26 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
“Returning here, fighting for my first unification and with fans in attendance, it definitely makes this even more special,” Figueroa told BoxingScene.com. “The fight is a big one, especially with fans back in attendance bringing that energy that’s been missing (since the pandemic).”
Figueroa (21-0-1, 16KOs) was a spectator for the May 1 Fox Sports PPV event at this location, on hand mainly to support older brother Omar Figueroa. The former lightweight titlist returned following a two-year layoff, albeit in a losing effort as he was stopped by Abel Ramos after six rounds in their welterweight title eliminator.
The outcome aside, the younger and still unbeaten Figueroa was able to get everything he needed out of the night two weeks ahead of the biggest fight of his career. The 23-year-old from Weslaco, Texas was left with plenty of motivation to prevail this weekend, both for the sake of his family and with the incentive of playing to a crowd for the first time in 18 months.
“I sat in the crowd (on May 1), taking everything in and visualizing what it will look like on my fight,” admits Figueroa. “It was a great opportunity to witness it first-hand. It’s a different feeling, it’s like fans are coming with a new energy now that these shows are having crowds again. That night was crazy.
“You could feel it, maybe a little too much. There were fans throwing like crazy, pretty sure there was a lot of smack talk. But the fans being back, it’s great for the sport. Obviously, you don’t want to see anyone in attendance being hurt, but the passion that they are bringing—it makes such a big difference with crowds back in the mix.”
The title unification bout headlines a Showtime televised tripleheader beginning 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 pm. PT.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox