WBC lightweight titleholder Omar Figueroa Jr. floored Daniel Estrada with right hand in Round 9, then forced the stoppage moments later with a barrage of punches on Saturday night at StubHub Center in Carson, California.
Referee Raul Caiz Sr. stepped in to wave an end to the fight a minute into the ninth, as Figueroa (24-0-1, 18 knockouts) defeated Estrada in the first fight of a Showtime tripleheader headlined by Shawn Porter’s IBF welterweight title defense against Kell Brook, which Porter lost by majority decision.
By the third round, blood was already dripping from Estrada’s nose. Estrada then landed a left hook below Figueroa’s belt and Caiz stepped in while the champion took 45 seconds to recover.
In an eighth-round clash of heads Figueroa suffered a deep cut that bothered him to the point where he retreated to the ropes in a neutral corner, where Estrada (32-3-1, 24 KOs) landed a succession of effective punches.
“The eye didn’t concern me, personally, I just knew that to the judges and to the doctor, that it would look pretty bad … I knew that he would be more open because of the cut, so I just played possum for the last two rounds because I knew that maybe he thought that I was hurt or something,” said Figueroa, who out-landed Estrada, 229-to-169 in total punches, including a 174-to-102 advantage in power shots, although Estrada landed more jabs, 67-to-55. “I knew that punch was going to come, so I was waiting for it.”
After the eighth round it appeared that Caiz was taking extra time to examine Figueroa’s cut, but it turned out he was taking a close look at Estrada to determine if he could continue.
“I didn’t want them to stop the fight. I wasn’t keeping track on what was going on with him. I had plenty of things to worry about in my corner,” said Figueroa. “I just did my job, and that was it. I don’t think that I did that great. It wasn’t up to par to what I expected. I wanted to come out more explosive. We planned to go toe-to-toe, and we planned for a good fight, and this is the result.”
Figueroa has gone 14-0 with 10 knockouts since a split draw with Arturo Quintero in November 2010, and was coming off April’s split-decision win over Jerry Belmontes in defense of the belt he won in a Fight of the Year candidate against Nihito Arakawa in July 2013.
Estrada, 29, had last been in action for Decmeber’s third-round knockout of Hugo Armenta, and had last suffered defeat by split decision to Reyes Sanchez in December 2010.
Estrada lost his sister and one of his nieces when they were killed in a car crash two weeks ago, having to identify the body of his 8-year-old niece, Emery Fernanda, and being present when his 28-year-old sister, Yanin, died on a hospital bed three days later. Estrada said that his sister told him not to pull out of the fight and to continue training before passing away.
According to WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman, two-division titlewinner Jorge Linares (37-3, 24 KOs) is now the organization’s mandatory challenger.
In an earlier fight on the Porter-Brook card, Linares earned his sixth straight victory and his fourth knockout during that run with a second-round stoppage of lightweight rival Terry.
But Figueroa said that he may move up in weight.
“It’s really nothing against the 135-pound division,” said Figueroa Jr. “It’s just that my body is just not up to it anymore. I think that I’ll be more comfortable at 140.”