The biggest boxing news in the Rio Grande Valley during the past week was the announcement of Omar “Panterita” Figueroa Jr.’s upcoming fight against Adrien Broner.
The 12-round bout at a scheduled 140 pounds between Weslaco’s Figueroa Jr. (27-0-1, 18 knockouts) and Broner (33-3, 24 KOs) of Cincinnati is set to be broadcast April 21 on Showtime. The site will be Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Both fighters are former world champions.
Broner is 6-3 in his last nine fights. Meanwhile, due to injuries, mainly to his hands, “Panterita” has fought just once since December 2015. That fight came last July 15 in New York and it was a decisive victory by technical knockout against former world champion Robert Guerrero.
“I’m glad I’m back (fighting),” Figueroa Jr. said last summer prior to his bout against Guerrero. “I’m way too young (28) to retire and I’m glad I took some time off to get healthy. I feel better mentally and physically, so we should be seeing more of the best Omar that we’ve seen.”
Figueroa Jr., showing no ill effects from his layoff, knocked down Guerrero five times and dispatched him on a third-round TKO that prompted Guerrero to retire the next day.
And now, as announced last week, the next challenge for “Panterita” is the 28-year-old Broner, a former world title holder in four divisions.
It could be argued that this is the highest-profile fight yet for “Panterita” since he turned pro in 2008.
While some may favor Broner over Figueroa Jr., the Weslaco fighter is getting a nod of approval from other analysts such as Rick Glaser, a professional boxing businessman from Williamsville, New York. Glaser has worked full time in professional boxing for 27 years and frequently gives his opinions about fight matchups, boxers and promoters via Facebook.
Glaser believes Broner’s questionable behavior is catching up to him.
“Broner and Figueroa (Jr.) are two fighters whose careers are headed in opposite directions,” Glaser said. “One (Figueroa Jr.) is going up and the other (Broner) is going down. Figueroa (Jr.) throws way too many punches and is too physically strong (for Broner).
“Even though Broner has a new trainer in Kevin Cunningham, who is an excellent trainer, Broner is still Broner,” Glaser added.
Someone who is favoring Broner over “Panterita” is California fighter Mikey Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs). He’s the one who defeated Broner convincingly on a unanimous decision last July 29 in New York.
Still, it’s reported that Robert Garcia, Mikey Garcia’s brother and trainer, favors Figueroa Jr.
At this point there seems to be plenty of time for speculation about who will win before Figueroa Jr. and Broner step into the ring April 21.
Brownsville featherweight Johnny “Blaze” Tapia (8-1, three KOs) goes against former Olympian Shakur Stevenson (4-0, two KOs) on Feb. 16 in Reno, Nevada. Stevenson, a New Jersey native, won a silver medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The fight is scheduled to be shown on an ESPN channel.
South Texas Fighting Academy in Palmhurst will be the site of a boxing show Feb. 24. Edinburg fighters Raul Casarez and Nelson Hampton are expected to appear on the fight card. For more information, call (956) 456-5786 or (956) 460-7808.
The STFC 45 mixed martial arts cage fighting show is scheduled March 2 at McAllen Convention Center. For more information, call (956) 562-2622 or (956) 414-8698.