Ever since he was born into a boxing family, it seemed as if Brandon Figueroa was destined to be a pro fighter like his older brother, former world champion Omar Figueroa Jr., and be trained by his father Omar Figueroa Sr.
Even when he was a youngster going up the amateur circuit, some thought he was too cute to be a boxer and could be a model, hence Brandon's nickname "Heartbreaker." But even so, the 22-year-old Brandon knew he was meant to be a fighter after many sparring sessions with Omar Jr.
"I was basically born into the sport. I was born to fight. I tried every other sport and I wasn't any good at them until I tried out boxing. Boxing is my thing. I would compete against my brother [in sparring] and have this brother vs. brother rivalry. Boxing was the only sport I could keep up with him... I was made for this," Brandon told Fightful in an exclusive interview.
Now, only 19 fights into his pro career, Brandon, who holds the WBA's interim super bantamweight title, is now set to return to the ring on August 24 in Edinburgh, Texas, just 30 minutes from his hometown of Weslaco. He'll be taking on rugged veteran Javier Nicolas Chacon, who has faced the likes of Isaac Dogboe and Jamie McDonnell, both of whom would go on to win titles at 122 pounds.
But the story of Brandon's progression doesn't just end with this fight, considered by him a homecoming of sorts. In fact, he looks at this fight as a way to prove his worth as someone that can carry an event on his own and still dazzle crowds with his exceptional workrate in the ring for someone as young as him. He wants to solidify his standing as a top contender with a dominant win over Chacon as a show of good faith to advisor Al Haymon of PBC, whom Brandon credits for giving this kind of opportunity.
“It’s a big opportunity for me. Al Haymon blessed me by giving me this opportunity and I have to take advantage. It’s basically a homecoming fight. All my fans have been waiting to see me fight in their backyard, which is my backyard. I have to prove myself [that I’m a true contender and ready for a world champion]. It just goes to show how much Al Haymon really believes in me that one day I’m going to be a world champion. Every fight I’m getting better,” Brandon said.
Brandon is a tall fighter for a 122 pounds, standing at 5'9" according his Boxrec profile, yet carries his power and aggression to the inside instead of using his length to win fights. The unusual combination of a 5'9" super bantamweight with 14 of his 19 wins coming by knockout and prefers to engage at close range has turned him into one of the division's best prospects and rising contenders. This has been the style he has had honed after many years of training under his father and the many, many sparring sessions with Omar Jr. While Omar Jr. has accomplished much in his career, winning a lightweight world title and fighting on pay-per-view this past July, Brandon is looking to carve out his own career and is excited over what the future holds for the 22-year-old.
Even with the rough and electric power that he carries, Brandon did also note that he is looking to be a more patient fighter in the ring and box more in his fights instead of risking getting cut and hurt by fighting so much on the inside. He knows how much getting hurt by being reckless at this stage of his career would do to his plans of fighting in the upper echelon of fighters at 122 pounds next year.
“It definitely came from my father. He implemented that into my brother and me. I’ve seen a lot of tall fighters that don’t know how to fight on the inside and I fight on the inside really well and I can box. It’s just something where I get in the mix in a fight and I want to break you down, I want to get in your face and beat you at your own game," Brandon said.
While a fight against the likes of Daniel Roman, Rey Vargas and Emanuel Navarrete, all titleholders at super bantamweight, in 2020 may sound nice for Brandon, there's no guarantee those championship bouts can be made. The younger Figueroa fights under the PBC umbrella while the aforementioned champions compete for the likes of Matchroom Boxing, Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank, and history has shown that making fights between these different entities is far easier said than done.
“This division keeps getting stronger and I’m happy about that. There’s a lot of great world champions in my division that will make me work harder, hoping one day I can fight them. I’m hoping by next year, I’ll get a title fight. I’ll be happy to take that. But for right now, I have to take it one opponent at a time. I know how boxing works in terms of the politics and so some fights may not happen because of one reason or another. When the opportunity comes to fight for a world title, I will definitely take it," Brandon said.
But as much as he would like to think about those potential fights, his sights are set on his upcoming fight against Chacon. Brandon isn't even concerned with Roman's upcoming WBA and IBF title defense against Murodjon Akhmadaliev on September 13 at Madison Square Garden. As far as a prediction for his own fight, Brandon expects to break down Chacon and eventually stop him starting from the sixth round onwards.
“I know he’s going to come to fight, especially with this being the first time he fights in the United States and in my backyard. I won’t underestimate him though, but I do see myself as the favorite because I come forward and throw a lot of punches on the inside. I’m strong, I’m the younger fighter, but I don’t overlook my opponents. I take this as a big test. On the 24th, I’ll show that I’m the better, stronger fighter,” Brandon said.
Figueroa vs. Chacon for the interim WBA super bantamweight title will headline the PBC on FS1 card from Edinburgh, Texas. The full interview can be heard from the August 16 Fightful Boxing Podcast at the top of the page starting at around the 45:40 mark.