With both fighters being aggressive front-foot punchers, fans were anticipating an action-packed matchup between Figueroa and Nery – and the two protagonists did not disappoint.
Swapping heavy hooks from the get-go, Figueroa and Nery engaged in multiple vicious exchanges on the inside. Showing scant regard for defence, the warring rivals both displayed impressive chins in swallowing some clean shots.
By round seven, the pace had begun to take its toll on southpaw Nery, who was struggling to keep the relentless Figueroa at bay. After a left uppercut sunk into Nery’s ribs and knocked the wind out of him, the 26-year-old Mexican was unable to beat the referee’s count at 2-18. At the time of the finish, Figueroa and Nery were ahead on one scorecard each, with the third judge having the boxers level.
Figueroa, 24, had been the betting outsider going into the bout, but the unbeaten Texan proved that he is a world-class operator by becoming the first man to defeat two-weight titlist Nery.
“It feels amazing – this is a dream come true,” Figueroa said post-fight. “I know everyone doubted me, but here I am with the belt. It’s all thanks to hard work and dedication.
“The plan was to break him. My corner told me to pressure him. They said that he wouldn’t last and that’s exactly what happened. I knew he was getting tired – I saw him breathing heavily. My team just said it was time to go get him.
“You saw tonight what I can do. 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.”
Next up for Figueroa is a double title clash with WBO belt-holder Stephen Fulton on September 11.
“We’ve been waiting for this fight against Fulton and it’s finally going to happen,” stated Figueroa. “I knew I had to get through 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 I know that we’re going to give the fans a hell of a show.”