Brandon Figueroa took his first loss in November against Stephen Fulton by majority decision. It was a disappointment that hardened ‘The Heartbreaker.’
Boxer Brandon Figueroa is nicknamed ‘The Heartbreaker’ because of his youthful and handsome face. The 25-year-old from Weslaco, TX, still has a babyface, but he sports a steel demeanor since enduring a bit of heartbreak in his last contest.
Figueroa lost the first fight of his career in a thrilling bout against Stephen Fulton in November. Figueroa fought Fulton head-on, using his typically unrelenting style. His nickname, ‘The Heartbreaker,’ might be a bit of a double entendre.
He is used to wiping the canvas with his opponents, as he did with Luis Nery when he knocked him out in round 7 to claim the WBC super bantamweight title. He broke Nery’s body and will to earn a world title, but the emotions were flipped when the judges’ scorecards were read at the end of a 12-round war with Fulton.
One judge had it 114-114, but the other two awarded the fight to Fulton with scores of 116-112. It could have gone either way. CompuBox stats had Figueroa out-landing Fulton 314 punches to 269, but Fulton’s punches were more precise. Fulton’s punch accuracy was about seven percentage points better than Figueroa’s.
The subjectivity of boxing scoring handed Figueroa his first career defeat. You could see the disappointment on his battered face after the fight. His purple right eye was swollen shut during the post-fight press conference, where he disagreed with the ruling.
In retrospect, Figueroa chalks the loss up as part of the sport of boxing. He gave it his all and has no regrets.
“Like I said, it was a close fight,” Figueroa said to FanSided. “It was an exciting fight. It was just basically me going forward, attacking pressure for the whole 12 rounds. I mean, I did the most that I can to show that I wanted to fight more, you know. I was going to fight.
“I always make sure that I leave everything in the ring. And I mean, I don’t know what else I could have done.”
Many considered Fulton vs. Figueroa as a 2021 Fight of the Year candidate. Both boxers could hold their heads up proud after their performance, but it went down as a loss for Figueroa on his record, and that likely changed him.
Watch Brandon Figueroa vs. Carlos Castro on Saturday, July 9, on Showtime at 9 p.m. ET
After beating Nery in May 2021, Figueroa was on top of the world. He sported a large grin for most of his victory lap interview with FanSided and declared that he was already studying Fulton in anticipation of their future showdown.
Figueroa’s personality was carefree and bubbly. It appears that some of that nonchalant spirit is gone for good.
Figueroa still has a charming smile, but he doesn’t flash it in the same unconcerned manner as he did before the Fulton fight. The reality that his boxing fate can come down to the three people judging the fight is a cold reality to Figueroa now.
“I mean, I understand it’s a business,” Figueroa said. “I mean, as a boxer, you get knocked down, you gotta get back up. My loss doesn’t mean anything. Keeping an undefeated record doesn’t mean anything.”
Indeed, boxing is a business; sometimes, the final result doesn’t always seem fair. In most cases, Figueroa’s execution during the Fulton fight would see his hand raised in victory, but he was fighting another elite champion, and things didn’t work out that way.
Figueroa threw over 1,000 punches in that matchup and still lost. So what can he do differently going forward?
“I guess just be more patient,” Figueroa said. “I mean, that’s one of the reasons why Canelo switched his style was because people don’t appreciate, I guess, the fighter that wants to fight more.
“The fighter that puts the pressure. The fighter that risks everything to make the fight exciting because the only reason why the fight was exciting, the only reason why the fight, if anything, was thrilling was because I was the one putting the pressure. I was the one making the fight happen. Making the fight exciting. Making the fight electric.”
In short, Figueroa learned that aggression doesn’t always equal victory. He recognizes that his boxing game needs more nuance to beat a tactician like Fulton. It’s a mistake that he doesn’t plan to make against Carlos Castro on July 9.
Castro is an ambitious opponent to select after taking your first loss. He is 27-1, with his only loss coming against Nery by decision in February. Nery was the better fighter on that night, but Figueroa also thinks Castro carried the wrong game plan into the fight.
“I just felt like he respected Nery a little bit too much,” Figueroa said. “And he did the opposite of what I did, you know, especially against a fighter like Nery that had been battle-tested. That been in there in world championship fights.”
A wiser Figueroa sees how strategy played a role in Castro’s lone defeat the same way it did in his. That’s experience talking.
Figueroa hopes to demonstrate the lessons learned against Fulton when he meets Castro at the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX. He also expects to be the winner.
“I just got to be, like I said, more patient,” Figueroa said. “Be a little bit more technical. And, you know, just be smart. Just be smart. And that’s something that we’ve been working on definitely is being a little bit smarter. And using my abilities a little bit better. So, especially my technical ability. So yeah, you’re gonna see a lot more boxing for me this fight.”
Figueroa sees it as a balancing act–even out his aggression and pressure with defense. He has to make it so that his punches are more accurate and that he’s not taking too many shots that sway the judges.
That’s not an easy task, but if Figueroa can implement what he imagines in his mind and remedy his shortcomings, he can once again rise to the top. That’s what the great ones do and how they break the hearts of their opponents.