WESLACO — Brandon Figueroa spent the Saturday before his interim World Boxing Association Super Bantamweight title defense holding Team Figueroa’s Back to School Drive, handing out backpacks and supplies to kids ready to start their school year.
This Saturday, however, “The Heartbreaker” (19-0, 14 KOs) will be handing out punishment inside the squared circle at Bert Ogden Arena as he brings boxing to Rio Grande Valley’s newest venue for the first time. Figueroa is prepared to defend his belt against Argentina’s Javier “Chispita” Chacon as the main event of Fox Sports 1’s Premier Boxing Championships Fight Night.
“Outside the ring, he respects everybody. Inside that ring, they respect no one,” said Omar Figueroa Sr., Brandon’s father, trainer and manager, of his son. “This is a tough sport; you cannot play boxing, like they say. Brandon, once he steps in the ring, he’s something else.”
“Physically, I feel amazing; weight is coming down good,” Brandon Figueroa added. “Mentally, I’m ready, I can’t wait for Saturday; there’s going to be fireworks and it’s going to be an amazing show. I’m hungry, defending my title, and I always come out to fight and entertain.”
Typical fight weeks include staying holed up in a hotel in a different city as fight night approaches. But this time around, with the fight in the Valley, the Weslaco native gets to stay close to home.
“I’m fighting here at home, so I get to go home and see my mom everyday, get to sleep in my own bed and play video games in my own room,” Brandon Figueroa said. “It’s a nice feeling.”
And while he doesn’t consider this fight the biggest of his career, he holds this one in high regard, like the day he won his belt back on April 20 by stopping Yonfrez Parejo.
“This one is definitely special because I’m fighting in Bert Ogden Arena for the first time in its history. Not only that, but fighting in front of my family, hometown, friends and supporters, it’s amazing,” he said.
Fighting at home can bring added pressure, but Figueroa is focused on getting his hand raised Saturday night.
“I know a lot of people say, ‘How about the pressure of people asking for tickets?’ That’s the question that’s always being asked. But I just focus on what I got to do which is train and fight, and I’m more than happy to fight here in my backyard,” he said.
Sharing the ring with Figueroa is Chacon, a 38-year-old with a 29-4-1 record. While some may look down on the 16-year age difference, “The Heartbreaker” said he isn’t taking his opponent lightly. He’s been working on his power, explosiveness and increasing his suffocating volume.
“He’s a veteran and three of his four losses have been against world champions. I don’t take any opponent lightly. I’m working like if I’m fighting the world champion, I’m never going to let up,” he said.
With Figueroa set to bring boxing to Bert Ogden Arena on Saturday night, he also gives a platform to a number of local fighters who are scheduled to fight on the 12-fight undercard. Raphael Murphy, a heavyweight fighting out of Harlingen with a 13-1 record is scheduled to fight Larry Pryor. Nelson “Hot Hands” Hampton (6-2) will face Jesus Arevalo in the super featherweight division, while unbeaten Dimas “Saymore” De Leon of Mission looks to keep his 8-0 record unblemished when he fights Roberto Pucheta.
“It’s something big for the Valley,” Murphy said. “There’s no opportunity bigger than this to be fighting on this type of platform — FS1, in the Valley, fighting at the Bert Ogden Arena, first time fighting there. It’s going to be great.”
Undercard action is slated to begin at 3 p.m., while the main card will be televised on FS1 at 9 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the Bert Ogden Arena box office.