Luis Nery and Brandon Figueroa sensed a head-on collision was in their future after posting wins on the same show in their most recent respective bouts.
Their instincts were correct as the pair of unbeaten junior featherweights will headline a Showtime Championship Boxing telecast May 15 from Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. The WBC 122-pound title fight will mark the first Showtime non-Pay-Per-View telecast to take place outside the previously established bubble at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, where both boxers appeared on the same show last September.
Nery and Figueroa preserved their unbeaten records in supporting bouts on a loaded Showtime PPV event last September at Mohegan Sun. The show was anchored by twins Jermell and Jermall Charlo both posting wins in separate title fights.
Tijuana’s Nery (31-0, 24KOs) became a two-division titlist after outpointing countryman Aaron Alameda over 12-rounds in their vacant WBC junior featherweight title fight. The win was the first for Nery at the title level since his 2nd round knockout of Japan’s Shinsuke Yamanaka in their March 2018 rematch. The feat came seven months after dethroning the previously unbeaten Yamanaka via a 4th round knockout in Aug. 2017.
Both bouts were fought in Japan and came under dubious circumstances, however. Nery tested positive for the banned substance zilpaterol following his title win, though attributed to food contamination. An ordered rematch saw Nery weigh well above the 118-pound divisional limit, resulting in a lifetime ban issued by the Japanese Boxing Commission (JBC) preventing the boxer from ever again competing in the nation.
Five wins have since followed since the debacle, including his aforementioned unanimous decision over Alameda.
Figueroa (21-0-1, 16KOs) scored a 9th round knockout of Damien Vasquez, coming a couple of hours prior to Nery's second divisional title claim. The win came ten months after fighting to a grueling 12-round draw with Julio Ceja who never came close to making weight for their Nov. 2019 Fox Sports PPV preliminary bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
The upcoming showdown with Nery will mark the first true title fight for Figueroa, whose older brother Omar is a former lightweight titlist and who is on the comeback trail as a welterweight. Omar Figueroa will also next fight at Dignity Health Sports Park, facing Abel Ramos on the undercard of a May 1 Fox Sports PPV show headlined by heavyweights Andy Ruiz and Chris Arreola.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox