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Another Division Is Close; More On Canelo Alvarez

Esther Lin/ Showtime

New York- Saturday night undefeated Brandon Figueroa got a step closer to unifying the super bantamweight titles and took home the WBC belt with a seventh-round knockout over two-time champion Luis Nery. The main event of a Showtime Boxing/PBC event also saw Nery go from the undefeated ranks at the Dignity Healtgh Sports Park in Carson, California.

“It feels amazing, this is a dream come true,” said Figueroa. “I know everyone doubted me, but here I am with the belt. It’s all thanks to hard work and dedication.”

The fight between undefeated champions lived up to its billing with Figueroa (22-0-1, 17 KOs) immediately using his jabs and power punches in the first round. Nery (31-1, 24 KOs) appeared to control much of the early action, owning edges in punches landed (209 to 177) and punch accuracy (34% to 27%) throughout the fight, according to CompuBox.

But it was the 24-year-old Figueroa’s persistence in coming forward that eventually began to wear on Nery.

“The plan was to break him,” said Figueroa. “My corner told me to pressure him and that he wouldn’t last. That’s exactly what happened. I knew he was getting tired, he was trying to box me. I saw him breathing heavy. My team just said it was time to go get him.”

“You saw tonight what I can do,” said Figueroa. “I brought it to him and the hard work paid off. We did our homework. We did a great job in the gym and just took it to him.”

Nery had a delayed reaction to the powerful body shot, but once he hit the canvas, he was unable to beat referee Thomas Taylor’s count, ending the fight 2:18 into the round. Figueroa’s triumph sets him up for a unification showdown on Saturday, September 11 on SHOWTIME against WBO 122-pound champion Stephen Fulton Jr., who joined Figueroa in the ring after the fight.

“We’ve been waiting for this fight against Fulton and it’s finally going to happen,” said Figueroa. “I knew I had to get through Luis Nery first. Everything has its time. I envisioned that I was going to beat Nery and now I see myself beating Fulton. I know he’s coming with everything he’s got and that we’re going to give the fans a hell of a show.”

In the co-main event, former super bantamweight unified world champion Danny Roman (29-3-1, 10 KOs) dominated the second half of the fight to win a 10-round unanimous decision over Ricardo Espinoza. (25-4, 21 KOs).

“This win is a step closer to getting back on top and getting a world title once again,” said Roman. “I knew he was a tough fighter who hit hard, so I had to fight smart and make adjustments.”

CANELO GOT BOXING BACK IN MOTION: I have been blessed to report and write about boxing for almost 40 years and this week the May 14 date brings significance to me. It’s my birthday, also 29 years ago, I was honored and the recipient of a writer of the Year award from the Joe Louis Boxer Day organization in memory of the late and great heavyweight champion.

That award sits on my desk and inspires me to continue in an ever changing business of sports journalism. Boxing has also seen a change since the June 22, 1938 rematch when Louis had another heavyweight title fight with Max Schmeling.

And last Saturday after Canelo Alvarez got a step closer to unifying the super middleweight titles,boxing was officially back in business. Over 72,000 fans in attendance at the AT&T Arena in Arlington Texas established a new indoor record for the sport.

Though it can be said boxing never left us during the past 13 months. Promoters did their best to keep fans entertained and fighters busy during the height of a global pandemic. Though there were sacrifices with closed door shows and strict medical protocols.

And Canelo Alvarez was the one to say that boxing was officially back in business for the fans and promoters. There is no doubt, Alvarez is the best pound-for-pound and face of the sport. And there is no doubt that other promoters will open their doors now that states and venues are lifting many of the restrictions.

The fights won’t play out before another 72,000 or more fans, which was unprecedented, and credit to those who put the effort in staging a boxing spectacle not seen in 13 months. In the weeks and months ahead, upcoming fight cards will not take place at venues that were thriving before the pandemic.

The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, home for successful PBC boxing on Showtime and FOX Sports, is out of the boxing business. Madison Square Garden, I am informed, will get back in the game when New York State and the city increase indoor capacity limits to over 50 percent and that is expected by July 1.

Again, because he is Canelo Alvarez, it was accomplished . He officially revived the sport and that crowd speaks volumes. Now we wait for September and the talked about unification title bout for Alvarez against IBF champion Caleb Plant.

After that, assuming he succeeds in becoming the first to unify the titles, Alvarez has options with potential fights against David Benavidez, or WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade who made a challenge but I would assume that would be at a catch weight.

So if You look at a Floyd Mayweather Jr. comeback as significant, another exhibition and spectacle vs. Logan Paul, June 6 from Miami on Showtime PPV, the sport is thriving with significant and good championship fights.

The brief look at a busy boxing calendar that I anticipate the next few weeks:

May 21: Telemundo. Jonathan Gonzalez vs. Armando Torres (Jr. Flyweight)

May 22: Top Rank ESPN: Jose Ramirez vs, Josh Taylor (WBA/IBF/WBO undisputed 140 title plus Jose Zepada vs. Pedro Campa super lightweights Highly anticipated fight and as they say for all the marbles.

May 29: DAZN: Devin Haney vs. Jorge Linares (WBC Lightweight Title) Haney is the WBC champion as much as we recognize Teofimo Lopez as the unified lightweight champ.

May 29: Showtime Boxing: Nordine Oubaali vs. Nonito Donaire (WBC Bantamweight Title)

June 5: Triller PPV: Teofimo Lopez vs. George Kambosos (WBA/WBC/IBF WBO undisputed lightweight titles. And the exhibition with Evander Holyfield vs. Kevin McBride thay may be pushed to another date.

June 12: Top Rank/ESPN: Shakur Stevenson vs. Jeremiah Nakathila (WBO interim jr. lightweight title)

More fights on the calendar that follow and all with those boxing implications including the anticipated Anthony Joshua- Tyson Fury heavyweight unification scheduled for a tentative date in August and to be held in Saudi Arabia and combined promotion with Top Rank and Matchroom Boxing.

Comment: Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso

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