Omar Figueroa vows to deliver an action-packed, fan-friendly fight in defense of his WBC lightweight belt on March 8 against Ricardo Alvarez, just as he did winning the title against Nihito Arakawa in August.
Not only did Figueroa (22-0-1, 17 knockouts) fight with severely damaged hands against Arakawa, whom he floored twice on the way to a unanimous decision, but he also endured cut on the bridge of his nose from which blood poured throughout the bout after accidental head butt in the third round.
During a Feb. 12 conference call, Figueroa, 24, said he will "be looking for the knockout" against Alvarez (23-2-3, 14 KOs), whose younger brother, Canelo Alvarez, takes on fellow Mexican Alfredo Angulo in the headliner of the Showtime Pay Per View event at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The card will feature the first defense by IBF 154-pound titleholder Carlos Molina against prospect Jermall Charlo, the 23-year-old twin brother of unbeaten junior middleweight contender Jermell Charlo, as well as WBC 122-pound beltholder Leo Santa Cruz against former beltholder Cristian Mijares.
A fourth bout matches Jorge Linares against Arakawa on Showtime Extreme prior to the pay per view.
Figueroa made some interesting comments during the call, some of which are below.
Omar Figueroa on fighting Arakawa with two, damaged hands:
"The hands will be alright, come March 8. That's not going to be the worry. Whether they feel fine or whether they don't, the fight is going to happen, and if I mess them up during the fight, then it's going to be the same thing as what happened in the Arakawa fight.
"I can't stop, and I won't stop, and not my hands, and not anything like that will stop me. So the fans are still going to get a good show, regardless. The hands are fine."
On fan reaction since the Arakawa fight:
"There has been great reaction. Certainly I didn't expect it, and certainly my team didn't expect it. We obviously thought that we were going to get him out of there in two or three rounds, and it was headed that way until I hurt my hands.
"It's like a chess game in there, and as soon as I hurt my hands, everything changes, and a million things go through one's mind. I had to adjust, and whoever adjusts better in the ring is most likely going to be the winner.
"It's just that during the fight, it feels like that's the reason I fight, and that's the reason that I fight the way that I do…I got the fan reaction, I guess, because they want it and they expect it in my fights. I go toe-to-toe, balls out.
"Knowing that you were in that kind of fight, and the respect that I got from the people, and the respect that I got from my opponent, and the fact that everybody, even the casual boxing fans, loved that fight, that's what I fight for."
On why he would rather fight than box:
"When it comes to boxing or movement, I can do that, and I do that well when I'm in training camp. But training gets a little heavy and a little tiring, so I do take some days off, and those are the days that I box, and I avoid getting hit or I avoid mixing it up.
"But that just gets boring to me. So the reason that I don't like to do that is that it just gets boring. I know that it looks like I got hit a lot, or that I took a lot of punishment, but the reality is that those are just flesh wounds and scratches from the gloves, or whatever."
On the respect he will show for Arakawa during the press tour:
"It was an honor to be in one of those fights, especially for me. I look up to the guy. I admire the guy because he has tremendous frickin' will. I mean, he has balls of steel, and the heart of a champion to be able to get up, because you know how hard I hit.
"I know how much damage I dealt that night, and for him to be able to take that and to smile and to remember where we were at when other fighters wouldn't have remembered where we were at, it's just that he's an amazing human being when it comes to that in relation to boxing.
"So, yeah, definitely, he will get a hug or a high-five or a hand shake. Whatever it takes, I'm grateful to have fought him."
On being the WBC's full champion rather than interim:
"I could care less about titles. Yes, the titles mean more to me, but other than that, it doesn't really mean much, nowadays, because it just doesn't matter.
"Whether I'm the champion or not, I'm still going to train the way that I train, and I'm still going to go out there balls out and try to give the fans the best fight that they can possibly see. So, titles, that doesn't really matter to me.
"At the end of the day, you make more money, but other than that, titles are just titles. I think that the boxers make the belt, and I'm going to try to make the best of that belt."
On being a Mexican-American on a card against Alvarez's brother:
"I'm going to perform like I always do. I'm going to go out there and go 150 percent, and whatever it takes to win, that's what I'm going to do.
"The main reason we took this fight is because it did represent a great opportunity with respect to the fan base and the people that will be watching, and the amount of people watching. So, other than that, it doesn't mean anything. It's just numbers.
"You have the biggest Mexican fighter right now fighting on that card, so, definitely, there's going to be maybe 80 percent of the people watching the fight are going to be Mexican, and you have his brother, who has his name out there, going out there against me.
"It just represents a great opportunity. It's perfect for me. It's a perfect platform to get my name out there. I know that the WBC is a Mexico-based organization So, knowing that Jose Sulaiman just passed, and the belt was given to me, people are definitely going to keep an eye out for this fight."
On envisioning his success:
"This may be a dream come true, but it's something I envisioned happening. I saw this coming a long time ago, and to be great, you have to think great thoughts, and you have to feel great and praying like you're great. You have to know that you're the greatest.
"So I've been preparing like I'm the greatest, and I've been training like I'm the greatest, and I guess that you can call it the power of suggestion. It's the mentality that you have to have. It just feels like it came in due time. I'm just going to keep grinding as much as I have been working."