Behind-closed-doors boxing is easier for prospects than superstar fighters, according to one of the sport’s youngest world champions
24th September 2020

  • Brandon Figueroa, one of boxing's youngest world champions, said fighting behind-closed-doors should be easier for guys like him than the sport's superstars.
  • That's because he can remember the days when he would fight in front of empty seats, whereas Anthony Joshua, Saul Alvarez, and Manny Pacquiao feed off the buzz provided by masses of fans.
  • Figueroa fights for the first time in the coronavirus-era Saturday, taking on Damien Vazquez in a Premier Boxing Champions event broadcast on Showtime, the biggest boxing event of the pandemic so far.
  • Though he's baby-faced, Figueroa warns that looks can be deceiving, and he'll happily beat the hell out of anyone standing in his way.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Behind-closed-doors boxing is easier for prospects than the sport's superstar fighters.

That's according to one of boxing's youngest world champions Brandon Figueroa, a 23-year-old fighter who defends the regular WBA super bantamweight title at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut on September 26.

Figueroa's fight with Damien Vazquez is one of five world championship bouts at the Premier Boxing Champions event broadcast on Showtime pay-per-view.

It is the sport's greatest event of the pandemic era so far as boxing continues to return after a three-month, coronavirus-enforced hiatus.

The sport, today, is completely different. There is no live gate, for one. And it all takes place within highly-sanitized rings which are marshalled by mask-wearing, socially-distant crews.

So far, none of boxing's biggest names — the likes of Anthony Joshua, Canelo Alvarez, and Manny Pacquiao — have fought during the coronavirus era, because there are no tickets to sell.

And Figueroa said it will be a completely different experience for them when they do, as those kinds of fighters will be unable to feed off the energy that fans can bring.

It is different for younger fighters like Figueroa, as he said he can remember the days when he would fight in front of empty arenas.

"I feel like it's better for us, the more up-and-coming guys where we've experienced fights in front of very few people in the crowd," Figueroa told Insider recently, ahead of his return to the ring Saturday.

"I know the superstar boxers might not be used to there being no crowd, the atmosphere and the energy will be completely different for them.

"But in my case, and a lot of prospects, it's not going to hit us as hard as the stars."

Figueroa told Insider that he's excited to finally get back in the ring having waited since November last year for this gight.

When he fights Saturday it will over 10 months since a hard-fought split draw against Julio Ceja at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, November 23, 2019.

"It was a tough fight," Figueroa said, looking back. "I thought the decision was okay. He came to fight, and did enough to get the draw — I have to give him credit for that, and won't be taking credit away from him. It was tough.

"This time, it'll be a different fight night," he said.

"The mindset … I'm getting better as a fighter. I've been working on a lot of things, so come Saturday people will see I'm getting better with every fight.

"I may not have been at my best last time out, but I can't feel sorry for myself, can't blame injuries or whatever else. I'm in a different state of mind right now and going forward, after that draw, I'm ready to prove myself all over again."

In the fight against Vazquez, Figueroa says he will "throw a lot of punches, hit the body, the head, hit him with punches from all angles as we definitely see weaknesses in his game. It's going to be a really good fight."

Figueroa is boxing's heartbreak kid

The Heartbreaker.
Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

Figueroa is nicknamed "The Heartbreaker" for good reason — just one look at him and it's clear to see he's got the style and good looks of a popstar.

But make no mistake, he'll happily beat the hell out of you if you're standing opposite him in a boxing ring.

"I'm one of the youngest champions, but I've been fighting since 16," Figueroa told Insider.

"Even as an amateur, 16 … I was boxing men who were 30 years old. It never mattered to me fighting older man. I've got confidence in my skill.

"I'm used to fighting guys heavier, older. But when we're in the ring, weight, age, those kind of advantages, that doesn't matter."

Another fight in 2020, a match against a fellow champion in 2021, and perhaps even moving north from super bantamweight to featherweight are all on Figueroa's agenda in the near future.

"All those things are on my list," he said. "A unification in 2021, moving up to 126 … all these things are considerable goals.

"But right now, all eyes are on Vazquez. Get the win on September 26 then after that we'll talk to [manager] Al Haymon and see where we go. I'll fight anyone.

"I'm just excited just to get back in the ring."

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