As previouly reported on Fightnews.com, NABF light welterweight champion Frankie “El Gato” Figueroa (20-2, 13 KOs), now known as Gato Figueroa, takes on former WBO light welterweight champion Randall Bailey (38-6, 34 KOs) in an IBF title eliminator on April 3. The winner between IBF No. 3 rated Bailey (No. 1 and 2 are unrated) and No. 6 ranked Figueroa, shown live on ESPN from Memphis, will earn a title shot against IBF champion Juan Urango. “This is a phenomenal opportunity for me and I’m very happy that the fight has been made,” Figueroa said from his Miami-based training camp.
“I want to thank my promoter, Square Ring and its CEO, John Wirt, and my manager, Sal LoNano, for making this happen. Nothing is going to stop me from winning this fight. I’ve been training hard, first at Mike Boyle’s (Training and Conditioning in Winchester, MA), and now in Miami with my former head trainer, Eggie Martinez, who is back in my corner. I can already tell the difference in my strength and conditioning. My sparring partners tell me I’m faster and have more pop. That’s all I needed to hear.”
Bailey has more experience than Figueroa, who has a 12-fight win streak dating back to 2004, having defeated the likes of Demarcus Corley, Carlos Gonzalez, Hector Lopez, Rudy Martinez and DeMetrio Ceballos. Bailey’s a knockout-artist who has stopped 34 of 38 victims, but Figueroa has never been knocked out as a pro. The 34-year old Bailey, 3-4 in world title fights, has been knocked out twice by Miguel Cotto and Diosbelys Hurtado. Randall lost a split decision in a 2007 IBF title eliminator to Herman Ngoudjo.
“Bailey has had his time but now it’s Gato time,” Figueroa added. “Bailey’s a great fighter. I’m not going to slam him; I’m preparing for him and will do my talking in the ring. I’m not looking past Bailey, but I am thinking about Urango because my goal is to be world champion. In order to achieve that, I have to get past Bailey to get a title shot against Urango.”
Figueroa is also rated No. 11 by the WBC and No. 14 by the WBA. The 30-year-old Puerto Rican-American was born in Spanish Harlem, where Frankie was a 2-time New York City high school wrestling champion (14-0 as a senior). He was nicknamed, “El Gato” (The Cat), because he was the only one quick enough to catch a cat that was a mascot at his original gym in the Bronx.