WBC lightweight titleholder Omar Figueroa Jr. will "be looking for payback" when he faces spoiler Jerry Belmontes in the opening bout of the Showtime-televised tripleheader on April 26 at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.
"He's beaten me three times from when we were in the amateurs," said Figueroa, a 24-year-old who, at 5-foot-8, is one-and-a-half inches shorter than Belmontes. "Now, I'm the bigger and stronger fighter and I just plan to hurt him as much as possible."
Figueroa (22-0-1, 17 KOs) will be in the opening bout of a card headlined by welterweight boxer-puncher Keith "One Time" Thurman against two-time lightweight titlewinner Julio Diaz, and THE RING's number one-rated junior welterweight Lucas Matthysse opposite rugged lightweight puncher John Molina.
An all-action, fan-friendly fighter, Figueroa won his belt against Nihito Arakawa, flooring the Japanese veteran twice during a unanimous decision last July.
March 8 was a banner night for the 25-year-old Belmontes (19-3, 5 KOs), who spoiled the U.S. debut of previously unbeaten Will Tomlinson of Australia.
In addition, Figueroa, of Weslaco, Texas, never has beaten amateur nemesis Belmontes, of Corpus Christi, Texas.
"I've actually fought him before in the amateurs. This was more than a decade ago. When I was little, I played four sports at a time and I was 10 years old and I was playing football. I had broken my left elbow, so I had been out for a while. For about a year after that, I couldn't do much. After I came back, I was like 11, 12 years old, so I had all of that baby fat on me and I was sore and I hadn't had a growth spurt or anything," said Figueroa.
"So when I fought Jerry the first time, he was like two feet taller than me. So it was always an uphill battle for me. Even with that, I gave him a good fight. I fought him three times. A couple of those could have gone either way but [the judges] always gave him the fight because he was favored or whatever. Now, the tables are turned. Now, I'm the bigger and taller fighter, so I'm looking to get a little payback from over a decade ago."
Figueroa had to pull out of a scheduled March 8 defense against Ricardo Alvarez due to a hand injury but said his hand is recovering.
"The hand is getting progressively better. We've been working on it this whole time and it does feel a lot better. It didn't feel horrible this last time; it's just that, mentally, I wasn't feeling 100 percent. So that's one of the main reasons that we had to cancel the fight," said Figueroa.
"But this time, I'm feeling a lot more confident in my ability to use the hand. That's just mentally. Physically, it's coming around but that's what I was more worried about. I feel confident in throwing the left hooks to the body and to the head. So, slowly but surely, we're working it to the point that it's 100 percent."