By John Cannon and Pete Balderas
Photos: Danny Castaneda
Weslaco native and Golden Boy prospect Omar Figueroa won the war in the ring against Puerto Rico native Eric Cruz. However, the battle was one of the toughest ones he has faced so far. Figueroa improved to 12-0-1 by winning the fight via unanimous decision as the judges scored the bout 79-73, 78-74, and 78-74 in the main event of Summer Explosion , presented by Golden Boy Promotions and Cavazos Boxing and shown worldwide on Telefutura’s Solo Boxeo Tecate at the State Farm Arena in Hidalgo.
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Figueroa said he was glad to get the hard earned win over such a tough opponent.
“We knew he was going to be strong, but I felt my conditioning was good and lucky for me I was able to get the victory,” said Figueroa. “He was tough and put up a good fight. But I am an entertainer and wanted to put on a good showing for my hometown fans.”
Figueroa was the aggressor early on in the fight as he threw numerous combinations to the head area of Cruz and eventually stunned him with a couple of thunderous left hooks in the second round.
Cruz (11-7-3, 11 KO’s) finally connected on a power shot in the third round as he threw a straight right hand which caught Figueroa. However, Figueroa answered back with a right of his own which put Cruz against the ropes. Cruz had his best round of the fight in the fifth round as it appeared he caught his second wind and started to become more aggressive. Cruz was able to get some good shots in on Figueroa as he attempted to get himself back into the fight.
Cruz kept the pressure on in the sixth round as he connected with a couple of good body shots which stunned Figueroa.
After an apparent low blow by Cruz, Figueroa erupted in the seventh as he unleashed his hands with a flurry of punches and it seemed Cruz was going down as he was in the ropes. But Cruz countered his way out of trouble and even stunned Figueroa with a straight right hand which sent him back a few steps. However, Figueroa regained his composure and continued to wear down Cruz late in the seventh and throughout the entire eighth round as he continued to put the pressure on him.
Figueroa said he hopes after this fight he will get a chance to fight for a title.
“I think I am ready for a title bout right now,” said Figueroa. “However I reaggravated my hand and need to let it heal up. I am going to take a little time off and then will meet with my camp and promoters and decide what to do from there.”
In the co-main event, Golden Boy prospect Gary Russell Jr. used his speed to his advantage as he was able to defeat Mexico native Antonio Meza by knockout in the fourth round. Russell Jr. (16-0, 10 KO’s) threw a thunderous right hand and then a left combination which sent Meza crashing to the canvas, thus causing the referee to stop the fight at the 2:42 mark of the fourth round.
In other action, fellow Golden Boy prospect Jermell Charlo also kept his perfect record intact as he defeated Dallas native Larry Smith by unanimous decision.
Valley native Oscar Tovar Jr. improved to 2-0 as he made quick work of Mexico’s Robert Perez by scoring a knockout victory in the first round and Brownsville’s Juan Reyna won his pro debut fight as he scored a spilt decision victory over McAllen native Angel Hernandez.