It was no easy night tonight at the StubHub Center for WBC lightweight titlist Omar Figueroa, but the Texas slugger retained his belt with a TKO-9 victory over Daniel Estrada, overcoming a good stylistic test and a bad cut that opened up in round eight.
Figueroa (24-0-1, 18 KO) was cut as the result of a headbutt in the eighth round, a nasty, deep gash over his left eye, between the point of the eyebrow and the bridge of the nose. Estrada (32-3-1, 24 KO) had boxed nicely at points in the fight, but the cut added a new dimension, and brought an even greater aggression out of the always aggressive Figueroa, who led 77-75 on our card when the fight was stopped.
Figueroa scored a knockdown about 40 seconds into the ninth round, when he cracked Estrada with a right hand that flew in over a lazy jab. That punch landed square on the button, and put the Mexican challenger down for the second time in his career.
Smelling blood -- some of it his own -- Figueroa looked to immediately close the show, throwing his hands in what Showtime's Mauro Ranallo described as a "blitzkrieg" offensive flurry. Referee Raul Caiz Sr moved in, waited for Estrada to deliver something back, and then stopped the fight as Figueroa continued to unload on a prone opponent.
"I knew the doctor might think it was bad, and I didn't want them to stop the fight," Figueroa told Showtime's Jim Gray, adding that the cut didn't personally bother him. When asked if he felt a sense of urgency, Figueroa said no. "I was kind of playing possum for the last few rounds, because I felt he might have thought I was hurt or something. I knew that punch was going to come."
"I didn't think I did that great. It wasn't up to par to what I expected," Figueroa added. "We prepared for a good fight, and this is the result."
Figueroa also said that his hands held up "for the most part" in the fight, and reiterated that he'll be moving up to fight at 140 pounds, saying his body is ready for the move up. That means that Jorge Linares, who won earlier tonight, won't get a shot at Figueroa's belt, or at least that's the idea for now.
Judges at the time of stoppage had it 80-72, 79-73, and 79-73 for Figueroa. Lousy scores, but since they didn't get the chance to have those decide the fight, no one will much care.
Our live coverage continues here. Join us!