On a scorching hot July day in Las Vegas, Brandon Figueroa was at the MGM Grand Garden watching fights, but that didn't stop him from thinking back on the insane 2019 that he's had up to this point.
Sitting ringside watching his older brother Omar, a former WBC lightweight titleholder, fight Yordenis Ugas, the younger Figueroa could only dream before he would get to compete on high-profile pay-per-view events.
Starting 2019, Figueroa was considered as one of PBC's prized top prospects/rising contenders and showed it with impressive performances against Moises Flores in January and against Yonfrez Parejo in April. With the interim WBA super bantamweight title in hand, Figueroa has passed pretty much every test he's been given with flying colors.
Yet, despite some believing that Figueroa was already ready to fight some of the names sitting in the upper echelon of boxing's 122-pound division at the start of the year, Figueroa himself never believed he was going to be at this point in his career so soon.
"I was sitting there ringside and I was like man, I can just imagine the day when I’m fighting here. I can’t wait and I thought it was going to be maybe to next year, along that line. Maybe like a couple more fights but, wow it was two more fights down and here I am fighting on pay-per-view," Figueroa told Fightful in a recent media call.
Fast forward several months and a homecoming bout in August later and now Figueroa's interim WBA belt is now the secondary WBA "Regular" title. His first test as the WBA's secondary super bantamweight title will have him face off against battle-tested veteran Julio Ceja on the Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz 2 pay-per-view event on November 23 at the MGM Grand, the same venue he saw his brother fight just four months prior.
Even when discussing the upcoming bout against Ceja, Figueroa called it a blessing to even have the opportunity to compete on this stage. Although Ceja is coming into the fight on a two-fight losing streak, he did give Guillermo Rigondeaux a very tough fight in June before ultimately losing the bout altogether.
"Not only that but fighting a great fighter like Julio Ceja, it’s a blessing. You have to take everything into consideration. How are you going to outfight him? With Julio Ceja’s style, everything comes into play and obviously you always got to have a plan and obviously yes, I know Julio Ceja is going to come and brawl. Either I can box him or I can fight him inside. I’m an excellent fighter. I can fight. So it’s going to be interesting but I know I have more skills. I have the power definitely and watching his fight against Rigondeaux, I don’t know if he has stamina. So I’ve got to work the body, something that I’m used to doing, and that chin," Figueroa said.
Discussing the ins and out of the matchup, Figueroa does recognize that Ceja doesn't have the strongest chin out there, highlighted by Ceja getting dropped by a left hook from Rigondeaux that resulted in a TKO loss for him. Figueroa, however, isn't planning on gunning for the immediate knockout.
"He’s been dropped plenty of times with that left hook so that’s something I’ve got to make sure I get to land. I know this isn’t going to be an easy fight but I’m definitely working really hard to make it easy and make fight night easy and even though it’s not going to be easy but, you always got to believe in yourself and plan it as if it’s going to be easy but. I know I’ve been on a knockout streak but I don’t plan on knocking him out. I’m just going to go in there and make sure that my plan goes well and that I get the W however I can," Figueroa said.
Figueroa vs. Ceja for the WBA "Regular" super bantamweight title will take place on the Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz 2 pay-per-view event on November 23 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.