A cracking looking unification match tops the bill at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California this Saturday night, as WBC Super Bantamweight champion, Luis Nery, clashes with WBA boss, Brandon Figueroa on SHOWTIME.
Nery and Figueroa head into the clash unbeaten in a combined over fifty fights and attempt to own two of the five major belts in the 122 pound division.
Mexico’s Nery (31-0, 24 KOs) is another in a long line of Aztec fighters becoming multiple weight world champions. The 26-year-old has come into his own after venturing out of his homeland for the first time as a pro in August 2017 to win the WBC Bantamweight title.
That night, ‘Pantera’ stopped the excellent Shinsuke Yamanaka in four rounds.
Nery would then be involved a failed test controversy in the aftermath, and, while the WBC took time to make a ruling, he was allowed to take part in a non-title ten rounder, dropped by Arthur Villanueva before stopping the Filipino in six.
A rematch with Yamanaka was ordered by the WBC, as the adverse test was put down to contaminated meat, but a battle with the scales saw him lose his belt in any case before halting the Japanese in two rounds in March 2018.
Nery would win another four times at Bantamweight against the likes of McJoe Arroyo (RTD4) and Juan Carlos Payano (KO9) before moving up in weight.
This came in his last contest, where he claimed the vacant WBC crown at Super Bantamweight against his countryman, Aaron Alameda, in September 2020. In a competitive fight, Nery came through clearly on the scorecards.
Now he attempts to add the WBA ‘Regular’ belt to the collection, but it won’t come easy against another hot prospect in Figueroa (21-0-1, 16 KOs).
‘The Heartbreaker’ has stepped up in class sharply in the last couple of years, and is now reaping the rewards. The 24-year-old Texan first reigned as interim WBA champion in April 2019, retiring Yonfrez Parejo after eight rounds.
After one defence, he was upgraded to full ‘Regular’ champion, but was then held to a draw by Julio Ceja, who weighed in a whopping four pounds overweight, and then went to war for 12 rounds with Figueroa in a classic.
In his last outing, he stopped Damien Vazquez in ten one sided rounds in September 2020.
Prediction: This is a good looking match on paper, and the winner is in line to unify further, with WBO champion, Stephen Fulton, a potential next opponent. Nery for me has just that little bit more seasoning than Figueroa, and is a hurtful puncher, and I can see him getting to Brandon, and grinding him down for a win in the championship rounds.
The undercard sees former world Super Bantamweight champion, Daniel Roman in action.
The Californian looks to get back into title contention when he takes part in a ten rounder against Ricardo Espinoza Franco.
Roman (28-3-1, 10 KOs) won the WBA title out in Japan in September 2017, and he added the IBF belt in a thrilling majority verdict win over TJ Doheny in April 2019.
Roman’s run would come to an end in his next fight, as standout amateur, Murodjon Akhmadaliev, relieved him of his crowns via a tight split decision.
The 31-year-old was last seen in September last year, outscoring Juan Carlos Payano over twelve.
Franco (25-3, 21 KOs) shouldn’t pose too many problems for Roman, and the Tijuana native’s most significant fight so far was a last round knockout defeat to John Riel Casimero in an interim WBO title tilt in April 2019.
He is unbeaten in two since, his last a ten round decision win against Brandon Valdes in August 2020.
Prediction: Roman should move a step closer to returning to world level with a clear points win here.
Xavier Martinez is ranked number two with the WBA at Super Featherweight, and he meets three-time former world title challenger, Juan Carlos Burgos, over ten rounds.
This is an eliminator for the WBA belts currently held by Gervonta Davis (‘Super’ champion) and Roger Gutierrez (‘Regular’ champion), with Burgos stepping in for Abraham Montoya.
Martinez (16-0, 11 KOs) was last seen in October 2020, having to get off the deck twice before securing a decision win over Claudio Marrero, but hadn’t been in much trouble prior to that contest.
Burgos (34-4-2, 21 KOs) has failed in attempts at Featherweight and Super Featherweight world titles, and has lost two of his last three bouts.
Prediction: Martinez should box his way to a wide win on the cards.
At Lightweight, Jose Valenzuela (7-0, 4 KOs), should be able to win early in his scheduled eight rounder with Nelson Hampton (7-3, 4 KOs), and at Super Lightweight, Justin Cardona (4-0, 2 KOs) can do the same against James De Herrera (4-6, 3 KOs), who has been stopped four times in six defeats.
Gabriela Fundora makes her debut after a successful amateur career, and she takes on Jazmin Valverde (2-1, 2 KOs), who she should overcome in their four rounder.