Frankie Figueroa's time to make a move in the game is growing short. The Bronx resident turns 30 on June 13, and it would have been nice for the junior welterweight's career arc if he'd gotten himself a pre-birthday gift KO win in the headline bout on ESPN's Wednesday Night Fights. Alas, Figueroa, the NABF junior welter champ, had to settle for a dominating unanimous decision win over Mexican import Luis Rodriguez at the Gotham Hall in New York City.
I suppose it was the equivalent of you getting an iPod Shuffle when you were thinking the old lady was going to get you that hot-off-the production line iPhone, but hey, Figueroa at least adds another W to his resume, and keeps his fingers crossed for some upward mobility when the next batch of rankings come out.
The scores were 118-110, 117-111, 116-112, for “El Gato.”
Fig had a 318-202 edge in punches landed, and a 933-713 margin in punches thrown.
The New Yorker Figueroa (18-2, 13 KOs entering) weighed 139 3/4 pounds, while the Mexican native Rodriguez (22-1, 13 KOs entering) weighed 138 3/4 pounds.
In the first, the lefty Fig warmed up quickly, and so did his foe. Fig was in his face, stubbornly, but stepped back right quick when he ate a counter right with 10 seconds to go. A cut on Rodriquez' right eye was deemed to be caused by a head clash.
In the second, Fig showed a tendency to reach too much with his left hand from a distance. It figures, because at 5-5 plus, he's not tall for a junior welter.
In the third, Rodriguez continued his practice of not using his height and reach edge to his advantage. He got caught too much on the ropes, as the aggressive Figueroa showed the judges his hunger.
In the fourth, I wondered why Rodriguez wasn't blessed with the power you'd imagine the possessor of those long, thin punchers arms would own.
In the fifth, both men invested in body work. Neither man showed himself to be an especially keen-eyed marksman.
In the sixth, Fig's energy hadn't lagged a bit. But Rodriguez' will was still on display, too.
In the seventh, both men's defense had slipped, so more head shots looked to be landing.
In the eighth, Rodriguez was eating more and more. He needed a weapon he doesn't own (or care to use as much as he normally would against the lefthander), a steady-pumping, hard jab, to keep the shorter man away.
In the ninth round, both men continued to sling away, keeping up a good pace by eschewing excess clinches.
In the tenth, Fig kept on doing what he was doing, getting in close and staying busy.
The fight went over the allotted TiVo time, but being a TiVo vet, I taped the Mancini-Bramble fight at 11 PM, and thus caught the last two rounds. In the 11th, you had to tip the cap to Rodriguez, for his heart.
In the 12th, Fig's kick-tail cardio regimen was paying off. He's no bomber, and didn't look to close the show with a massive onslaught. We went to the cards.
In the broadcast opener, Joel Torres (9-0 entering) took on Chris Fernandez (15-4) in a junior welterweight scrap. Torres, partial to hooks, changes speeds on his shots well. He sometimes falls in, and is susceptible to uppercuts down the road. The judges saw a draw over eight rounds, with one judge giving each fighter the nod, and the other seeing it even. Torres held a 149-121 edge in punches landed, and Teddy Atlas saw Torres a 78-74 winner.
Lefty Jose Ortiz (1-1 entering) met Joselito Collado (2-0) in a faceoff of young featherweights. Collado outlanded Ortiz, 88-47, over four rounds, and took a UD.
Bert Sugar talked about the May 10, 1991 Michael Nunn-James Toney fight. Nunn was 36-0, the IBF middleweight title holder, when he underestimated 25-0-1 prospect James Toney. Homeboy Nunn gave the Iowans the goods early, but Toney came on. In the 11th, Toney—goodness, was he ever a skinny mini–dropped a counter left hook that sent Nunn to the mat. He got up, but Toney was in finishing mode, and he kept on the champ, and Nunn was done. Sadly, he was caught up in a drug scene and is serving a sentence for cocaine distribution; he was sentenced to 24 years in prison in 2004.
SPEEDBAG Curiously, the ring announcer gave out scores just in Spanish for the opening bouts, because the show ran on ESPN Desportes. But I watched it on ESPN2, and Joe Antonacci didn't say the score in English. I was lost, and so were Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas. In the main event, he offered a side order of English to go with that Spanish.