Broner vs Figueroa Jr on August 20 in Hollywood, Fla.
Four-division world champion Adrien “The Problem” Broner, one of the sport’s most notable attractions and biggest personalities, will make his long-awaited return against all-action former world champion Omar “Panterita” Figueroa in a 12-round super lightweight showdown headlining action live on SHOWTIME on Saturday, August 20 from Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla. in a Premier Boxing Champions event.
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® telecast begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and will feature top 140-pounders Alberto Puello and Batyr Akhmedov squaring off for the vacant WBA Super Lightweight World Championship in the co-main event. Plus, WBA Super Featherweight World Champion Roger Gutierrez defends his title against unbeaten Hector Garcia in the telecast opener.
The two former champions present an intriguing contrast of styles as the flashy, technical skills of Broner match up against the bruising, volume attack of Figueroa. Both fighters have reached incredible highs and delivered memorable moments throughout their careers and will look to go through one another to return to championship contention.
Cincinnati’s Broner (34-4-1, 24 KOs), is one of the most popular and colorful personalities in the sport and quickly rose to prominence by combining supreme boxing with a brash outspoken personality. By the age of 26, he had captured world titles at 130, 135, 140 and 147 pounds, becoming one of only eight active fighters to win a world championship in four divisions. Broner has faced several multi-division world champions such as Manny Pacquiao, Paulie Malignaggi, Marcos Maidana, Mikey Garcia and Jessie Vargas. He most recently won a unanimous decision over Jovanie Santiago in February 2021 and now returns to the super lightweight division where he dominated Khabib Allakhverdiev to win a 140-pound title in 2015.
“I’m going in there to try to stop Figueroa,” said Broner. “I’m going to take the fight to him and go ahead and get him out of there. What I expect from him is the same gruesome Figueroa that we always see. He’ll try to make it a rough fight. Every fighter is different, but I don’t think he’ll be hard to hit. So, I’ll see ya’ll on August 20.’’
The 32-year-old Figueroa (28-2-1, 19 KOs) is from a fighting family along with his younger brother Brandon, a former super bantamweight world champion. Figueroa won the WBC Lightweight World Championship with a unanimous decision victory over Nihito Arakawa in a 2013 “Fight of the Year” and successfully defended the title two times before moving up to super lightweight in 2015. Figueroa has also fought at welterweight, earning action-packed victories over Robert Guerrero, John Molina Jr., and Antonio DeMarco. He’ll move back down to super lightweight on August 20 after back-to-back defeats against Yordenis Ugas and Abel Ramos.
“I’m excited to move on to the next phase of my life and career, especially now that my mental health is at the forefront of everything I do,” said Figueroa. “Having a clear mind has been the best thing to happen to me. Now I’m able to focus 100% on my boxing career and I can’t wait to be back in the ring on August 20.”
A native of San Juan de la Maguana, Dominican Republic, Puello (20-0, 10 KOs) now fights out of Las Vegas under the guidance of renowned coach Ismael Salas. The 27-year-old leapt up the rankings in July 2019, handing Jonathan Alonso his first career defeat with a unanimous decision victory that earned him an interim title. Puello was successful in his U.S. debut in December 2021, as he scored a unanimous decision victory over Veshawn Owens in Owen’s hometown.
“I’m very committed to winning this fight for my team and my country,” said Puello. “I am more than prepared to make the most of this opportunity. My only focus is on earning this victory, becoming world champion and taking on all the challenges that come my way after that.”
Born in Uzbekistan and now fighting out of Los Angeles, Akhmedov (9-1, 8 KOs) represented Turkey at the 2016 Olympic games. The 31-year-old turned pro in 2017 and won his first seven pro fights, with six coming by knockout. His lone blemish came in an action-packed title fight against Mario Barrios in September 2019, where he was able to survive two knockdowns to make it a close fight, before eventually losing by decision. Akhmedov has rebounded to win back-to-back fights, including a stoppage of the typically durable former world champion Argenis Mendez in June 2021.
“I’m excited that I’m finally getting my shot at the world title again,” said Akhmedov. “I have worked very hard to reach my goal of becoming world champion. This time, I’m going to do everything possible to make sure that I take full advantage of this opportunity.”
The 27-year-old Gutierrez (26-3-1, 20 KOs) captured his world title with a unanimous decision victory over Rene “Gemelo” Alvarado in January 2021, in a fight that saw him drop his opponent three times. Gutierrez followed up that performance by defending his world championship and defeating Alvarado a second time in August 2021, again earning a unanimous decision. Fighting out of his native Maracaibo, Venezuela, Gutierrez is unbeaten in his last seven outings, including four knockouts.
“I am excited to return to the ring and defend my title for the second time,” said Gutierrez. “This is going to be a difficult fight, but I am confident in my abilities and my preparation, and I know I will be victorious. I am ready to show the world again that I am the best in this division.”
Tall and rangy with good power in his left hand and a dedicated body attack, the 30-year-old Garcia (15-0, 10 KOs) scored one of the biggest upsets of the year in February, when he stepped in as a late replacement for Gutierrez to defeat then-unbeaten Chris Colbert on SHOWTIME in Las Vegas. The 5-9 Garcia represented his native San Juan de la Maguana, Dominican Republic, in the 2016 Olympics before turning pro in December that year. Along with his countryman Puello, Garcia is also trained by the highly respected Ismael Salas in Las Vegas.
“This is a very important fight for me because I have worked for so long to win a world title,” said Garcia. “This fight is for all of the people in the Dominican Republic. I can’t wait to display my skills for them once again on SHOWTIME. It’s also a very special night because me and my friend Alberto Puello will both be fighting for world titles, the first time two Dominicans will do so on the same night. We grew up together and had the same amateur coaches and now we have a chance to make history together.”
OMAR FIGUEROA JR.
“We grew up kind of poor coming from the Valley. San Antonio was the biggest city that we could get to and enjoy. For us, this was like the maximum. So being able to camp here being so close to home has been a game changer. Obviously, I have my family here as well. I won’t say everything in this camp has gone perfect, because perfection is so hard to acquire, but everything has gone pretty close to perfect. We’re excited.
“I’m just worried about this fight. I’m not looking at anything else. I don’t know how I’m going to feel, physically and mentally. So much has changed in the past year. I’ve gone through so much since I was diagnosed regarding my mental health. It’s been tough. I’ve been doing this for 27 years now. So, I’m really looking forward to this fight.
“The biggest thing for me the past few years has been my mental health diagnosis. After my last fight, I knew there was something wrong. We did everything we needed to do in camp, we prepared right to make sure we were 100%. Everything went wrong in that fight. I started questioning myself and wondering why the heck everything went so badly. I spoke to my doctor and then I was diagnosed with all these mental health issues and that’s when I realized maybe the problem was me all along. I’ve been working on myself so much. I’m just grateful to SHOWTIME and my team and we’re excited to show how far we’ve come.
“Growing up in the Mexican culture, it’s a lot of ‘It’s all in your head. It doesn’t really exist.’ So, I had to look into it alone. I didn’t have the support of my family when it came to that. Even now, they still kind of struggle to see that. I feel it’s very taboo to a lot of people. Thankfully, I’m in a position where, having the platform I have, I’m able to shed some light on it and show that we’re all just human. Us boxers may look like we’re invincible, getting punched and cut and fighting through it, but we’re human at the end of the day. I finally took a break and looked inward and started taking care of myself, accepting the fact that I’m human, that I hurt, that I can get anxiety and that I can get depressed.
“This camp has shed some light on being vulnerable and how much it helps to allow myself to be human. Now, I talk to my family differently. If I’m having a tough day before I get here to the gym, I’ll talk to my mom or my sister. Or when I’m feeling low, we’ll just embrace. I tell them how much I love them, how much I appreciate them for being here for me. Honestly, being human is one of the best things I decided to do.
“Honestly, there was a time when I was a little bit jealous of Broner. He had such an amazing career and, like me, things got to us. As we all know, things haven’t gone the smoothest for us. So, I’m getting the word out about mental health, doing more to bring it to the mainstream and I’m glad my opponent is Adrien Broner because he’s a great advocate for that too. I feel he can make a huge difference if he sheds a little bit of light on it. Other than that, this is a great opportunity and I know it’s going to be a hell of a fight.
“I don’t watch his stuff online and see what he’s doing. Even if he does start trash talking, it’s all part of the show. He’s been through his share of struggles and I can say I honestly respect Adrien Broner.
“I’m not sure what kind of dance partner I’ll see. This is going to be a great fight for the fans of the sport.”
BRANDON FIGUEROA, Figueroa’s Brother and Former World Champion
“Both of these guys are going to bring everything to the table. I think it’s their time to shine, their time to showcase their skills and really make a statement. I’m just so proud of my brother, how far he has come and that he is still here. He’s put in the work. Every time me and my brother fight, it’s must-see. We’re all-action fighters. This is going to be amazing.
“It’s going to be a great fight. There will definitely be fireworks. I know my brother is going to put the pressure on Broner. Broner is quick, fast and slick so my brother has to keep that pressure on him, work the body and do the effective work that Marcos Maidana did when he beat Broner. Obviously, it’s not similar styles, but if he follows that game plan I believe it will work.”
OMAR FIGUEROA SR., Figueroa’s Father and Trainer
“Preparation is going well. His training has been good, sparring is good, injury-free up to now. We’re hoping he’s at 100% going into this fight.
“Omar is an offensive-minded fighter. That’s his defense. So, we’re working on conditioning for this fight. Omar is 32. He’s feeling the age a bit. That’s why you take advantage of your youth in this sport. But with Broner, that is a pretty even fight. We’re looking to win this fight and see what’s next.
“Broner is a great fighter. He derailed a bit, but he’s back on track. He and Omar took different paths and now they’re back on it. I take nothing away from Broner. He looked a little overweight from what I saw, but maybe he knows how to cut weight getting close to the fight.”
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