In one of the most action-packed fights you'll see this year, Omar "Panterita" Figueroa (22-0-1) defeated a tough, game and experienced Nihito Arakawa (24-3-1) by unanimous decision. Figueroa claimed the interim WBC lightweight title in a classic bout.
The decision was clear and rather lopsided, but the scores were not indicative of how competitive the fight was.
Figueroa seemed to hurt Arakawa on several occasions in the fight. Early on, it looked like we were on the way to another quick KO win for Figueroa. Arakawa had other ideas, though.
He went down twice, but he applied constant pressure and had a few moments of his own. Almost the entire fight was fought in a phone booth, and the two men traded mammoth power punches.
Figueroa got the best of almost all of those exchanges, but the 31-year-old Arakawa deserves credit for staying in the fight.
Where does this fight rank in your Fight of the Year rankings?
It was clear early that Figueroa had the huge edge in power, but Arakawa seemed to hope to have Figueroa tire himself out. At times, the 23-year-old from Weslaco, Texas seemed to fatigue, but he repeatedly came back with explosive power shots to claim round after round.
In the last two rounds, Arakawa was definitely the fresher fighter, but he didn't have the sharpness or power to put Figueroa in peril.
As exciting as the fight was, concerns about Figueroa's defense will only increase after this bout. He took a good number of power shots that could have been a problem had they come from a better puncher.
He's just 23 years old, but one has to wonder how he'd fare in the ring with a bigger puncher.
Adrien Broner—who has yet to vacate his WBC title—could be an especially tough assignment for Figueroa. A more refined boxer who can also punch like Terence Crawford would seemingly be a handful for him as well.
Another potentially explosive fight in the division would be a battle with Yuriorkis Gamboa. Neither man's defense is particularly good, so a highlight-reel KO would be likely.
Figueroa is a very bright young star, but this fight showed off his weaknesses as much as his appeal.
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