Brandon Figueroa says he “understands” why rival Stephen Fulton opted out of taking a rematch with him but adds that, although he was “bummed out” by Fulton’s decision, he is focused on defeating Mark Magsayo at the Toyota Arena in Ontario, California on Saturday.
Figueroa, 23-1-1 (18 KOs), lost his unbeaten record and his WBA super bantamweight title when he suffered a majority decision defeat in a unification bout with WBO beltholder Fulton in November 2021. The two men were apparently close to agreeing terms for a rematch when Fulton instead signed to defend his belts against Japan’s highly regarded Naoya Inoue, who is moving up to 122 pounds after unifying the bantamweight titles.
“It was a great opportunity to make that fight happen,” Figueroa told reporters on a conference call recently. “So yeah, I was a little bummed out, but I understand. I think the fight with him and Inoue is going to be a great fight, but so is my and Magsayo’s fight.”
Following the loss to Fulton, which was considered one of the best fights of 2021, Figueroa moved up to featherweight for his next outing, a sixth-round stoppage of Carlos Castro last July; when the Fulton rematch fell out, he rapidly switched his attention to former featherweight champ Magsayo.
“Mark Magsayo is an amazing fighter,” said Figueroa. “We expect a lot from him. He’s a very strong fighter. But I’m a strong fighter as well.”
Magsayo, 24-1 (16 KOs), won the WBC featherweight title in January 2022 by outpointing longtime champion Gary Russell, Jr., in Atlantic City. But he lost the belt in his first defense in July when, despite dropping Mexico’s Rey Vargas in the ninth round, he fell to a split decision defeat.
Figueroa believes that watching Magsayo’s loss to Vargas has given him the information he needs to defeat the Filipino on Saturday.
“We saw a lot of frustration. We saw a lot of impatience from him in that fight,” he explained. “We’re learning from that and we’re definitely preparing as we speak.”
But while he is backing himself to win, Figueroa nonetheless is expecting fireworks from his battle with Magsayo.
“Oh man, it’s just an amazing fight,” he said. “Maybe another fight of the year candidate. Who knows? I’m just so ready to show people my skills and to go out there and do what I do, which is go out there and fight.”