Showtime hosts a title unification at super bantamweight between WBC champion Luis Nery (31-0, 24 KOs) and WBA “regular” champion Brandon Figueroa (21-0-1, 16 KOs). Nery was a top fighter and a KO machine down at bantamweight but had some trouble making the weight and moved up to super-bantam, where he defeated Aaron Alameda for the WBC belt. He paired up with coach Eddy Reynoso for this fight and adopted a more measured approach than he had at bantamweight. The decision win broke his 11 fight stoppage streak but the more careful style will likely make him tougher to beat.
Figueroa became the interim WBA champion in 2019 and was promoted to regular champion after his first defense. Despite being a titlist for 4 fights, he hasn’t faced a top level fighter yet and Nery is by far the biggest opponent of his career. Figueroa is a high volume pressure fighter who relies on workrate and attrition to overwhelm his opposition. Nery did slow down late in his last fight which looks like something to exploit for Figueroa. However, Nery’s opponent was an outside boxer in that fight and if it gets to this point on Saturday, Figueroa’s take one to land two style will likely have led him to take too much damage to really capitalize as Nery is the tighter fighter technically and the much bigger puncher. The power puncher vs high workrate pressure fighter should give us some fireworks though, and while I expect a knockout win for Nery, this should be a very fun fight.
The co-main event between former unified WBA/IBF champion Daniel Roman (28-3-1, 10 KOs) and Ricardo Espinoza Franco (25-3, 21 KOs) might determine the next challenger for the main event winner. Roman was the WBA champion from 2017 to 2020 and unified it with the IBF belt by beating TJ Doheny before he was dethroned by 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Murodjon Akhmadaliev. Roman is a very well rounded fighter, and should remain a contender and elite gatekeeper for another couple of years. Espinoza most notably fought John Riel Casimero for the WBO interim bantamweight title and was stopped in the 12th. He’s since won the youth WBO super-bantamweight title. He is an exciting pressure fighter with very good bodywork on the inside. However he doesn’t have a great jab to help him get to the inside safely and often has to take shots to break the distance. Roman’s well roundedness means he should be able to outbox Espinoza on the outside and handle himself on the inside should it get there. Roman just has a bit of an edge in every area save for power and that’s why I’m picking him to win a decision.
Super-featherweight prospect Xavier Martinez (16-0, 11 KOs) opens the card against former title challenger Juan Carlos Burgos (34-4-2, 21 KOs). Martinez is a very fast boxer puncher with snappy power and passed a big test in his last fight when he rallied from two knockdowns to win a unanimous decision off of former titlist Claudio Marrero. Burgos’s claim to fame is to be the first man to have lasted the distance against Mikey Garcia in a 12 round fight and the only man to do it at super-featherweight, Garcia’s best weight. He is a tall boxer for the weight with a very good 1-2 and is a tough fighter to look good against. At 33 he’s getting up there in years and he’s coming in on short notice so a win might be a tall order but he’d be a good test for a fighter like Martinez with a full camp and is about the best caliber of opponent you can expect for a late replacement. Stopping Burgos would be a statement win for Martinez but given that the Mexican has never been down in his career, I doubt it happens but Martinez does look like he might have the goods to go far and it will be very interesting to see how he handles the veteran.
Nery vs Figueroa airs on Showtime on Saturday, May 15th at 10:00pm ET / 7:00pm PT
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