Boxer Omar Figueroa Jr. has dealt with some ups and downs over the last several years but feels like he is in a good place going into his next bout.
Boxing is a sport where weakness is criticized. It’s the sport of machismo. Boxers are trained to hide weakness from the outside world to maintain an image of invincibility going into a fight to intimidate their opponent. Omar Figueroa Jr. looked indestructible many times in the ring, but fighters are human too and as mortal as anyone else.
Figueroa (28-1-1, 19 KOs) reigned as the WBC lightweight champion for over a year, but he was hurting the entire time physically. He was open about his various injuries, but they plagued him more than most knew. His injuries have been with him since before his first pro contest.
“I’ve had so many injuries over the years,” Figueroa told FanSided. “I actually hurt my hand before my first pro fight. I didn’t wrap my hand properly and injured it. It’s been a problem ever since.”
That injury and others have haunted Figueroa throughout his professional career. They likely added frustration and anxiety to Figueroa’s life as well. Despite his physical limitations, Figueroa only has one defeat on his record, which came in his last bout in 2019 against Yordenis Ugas. Figueroa believes that his injuries were the primary factor in that loss.
“I had been dealing with some many injuries for so long, and I finally met someone good enough to talk advantage of those injuries,” said Figueroa about his loss to Ugas.
While dealing with his bodily ailments, Figueroa also struggled with his emotional and mental wellbeing. Figueroa’s internal conflicts manifested publicly when he was arrested in 2018 for DUI. The stresses of life overwhelmed Figueroa, and he turned to alcohol to assuage his pain.
Omar Figueroa Jr. returns to the ring after a 22-month layoff to battle Abel Ramos on May 1
“If I have to be honest, to me, what I thought my best outlet was, was drinking,” Figueroa told FanSided back in 2019. “That’s why I’ve gotten in trouble with the law. That’s why I feel like my career is maybe not at the place where it could be. I realize that now.”
In that same interview, Figueroa also discussed his mental health.
“I always stress mental health,” Figueroa told FanSided at the time. “It’s a huge part of life, especially for an athlete. If you’re not right mentally, you’re not going to perform where you need to perform.”
Shortly after talking to FanSided in 2019, Figueroa defeated John Molina Jr. He would lose to Ugas five months later. Figueroa hasn’t graced the ring in 22 months. The pandemic interfered with Figueroa’s plans but his fight to heal physically and emotionally was ongoing. Figueroa needed time to work on himself.
“I just took a lot of time to work on myself and become a better person,” said Figueroa.
Figueroa has endured some more difficulties along the way, but the path to self-improvement runs through adversity. Nothing in this world comes easily. Not even for a former boxing champion.
Today, Figueroa is happy. He meets Abel Ramos in the ring on Saturday, May 1, on the undercard of Andy Ruiz Jr. vs. Chris Arreola, at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. Ramos (26-4-2, 20 KOs) is a tough out after so much time away from boxing, but it doesn’t matter to Figueroa because he’s a fighter. He finds himself in a good place going into his boxing return.
“It’s feeling healthy, above all, that’s really making a difference,” said Figueroa in a recent press release. “This was the first time we have prepared like we should in 10 years. Complete, from start to finish. I haven’t felt this good or fought this well in a decade.”
Figueroa is 31 years old and has wisdom from his triumphs and troubles, but he’s a better person today because of it. We’re all fighting our way through life, and it will often knock us down. Figueroa has shown the wherewithal to get back up and keep fighting.
Watch Omar Figueroa Jr. vs. Abel Ramos on the undercard of Andy Ruiz Jr. vs. Chris Arreola on Saturday, May 1. The fight card can be purchased through FOX pay-per-view and the FITE app. Coverage begins at 9 p.m. ET.