HOLLYWOOD, Florida – August 18, 2022 – Former off-road world champion Omar “Panterita” Figueroa Jr. acknowledged the difficult test that awaits him against the former world champion Sergei Lipinets in a 12-round WBC Super Lightweight Title Eliminator headliner live on SHOWTIME this Saturday, August 20 from Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida in a Premier Boxing Champions event. During Thursday’s press conference, Figueroa admitted he was full of enthusiasm and keen to show the fruits of a great training camp, while Lipinets believes he and Figueroa have the style to produce a clash fan-friendly.
The press conference also featured the top 140-pounders Alberto Puello and Batyr Akhmedov, vying for the vacant WBA Super Lightweight World Championship in the co-main event, the WBA Super Featherweight World Champion Roger Gutierrez and undefeated Hector Garcia ahead of their world title showdown and undefeated prospect brandun lee and Will Maderawho launched the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® telecasts at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT. Puello and Garcia, both hometown friends from the Dominican Republic, are hoping to bring about arguably the biggest day in Dominican boxing history with title efforts, while Akhmedov and Gutierrez are hoping to thwart them and produce their own highlights and milestones.
Additionally, SHOWTIME SPORTS® will provide live coverage of undefeated Cuban heavyweights Lenier Pero to fight Joel Caudle in an eight-round bout and undefeated middleweight Fyodor Czerkaszyn to assume Gilbert Venegas Jr. in an eight-round duel via the SHOWTIME Sports YouTube channel and SHOWTIME Boxing Facebook page before the start of the televised quadrupleheader. The streaming show begins at 6 p.m. ET / 3 p.m. PT and will be called by SHOBOX® analyst and MORNING FIGHT host Brian Campbell next to former unified world welterweight champion Keith “Once” Thurman join as a guest analyst.
Tickets for the live event are on sale now and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com.
Replacing four-division world champion Adrien Broner on short notice, Lipinets promised action on Saturday night, while Figueroa remained determined to lead the fight no matter who the opponent faces. Here’s what the fighters had to say Thursday from Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino:
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OMAR FIGUEROA JR.
“Obviously we were preparing for a certain style, but the fight fell through, so I just have to take all my experience and the things I’ve learned all these years and apply it to Sergey. It’s not a game of kid and he’s a former world champion. We know we have our hands full.
“All the issues with the camp, and the weight cut and everything that the camp entails, I was hoping to go after Broner. And now I have to go after Sergey. It’s me against him.
“I’ve been a fighter for 27 years now, and the sport hasn’t always been the most enjoyable for me. We all know my mental health issues, but for the first time I was able to enjoy training camp I’ve learned to love facing whatever a training camp has to offer. If this is my last fight, I’d be happy. But I know I’m not done and it’s going to hurt me. there’s a lot left in the tank. I love this sport too much and there’s nothing else that would fill me up so much. I’m excited for Saturday. I’m pumped like I’ve never been before. I’m finally got to enjoy myself and I think I’m going to enjoy Saturday night, looking forward to a war with the Lipinets.
“We saw a video of him. He wasn’t hard to find, so we kind of know what to expect.
“I have no problem with Broner not fighting because of his mental health. I try to advocate and get more people to take care of their mental health. But that he uses it as a cop, that’s what annoyed me.
“With anyone struggling with their mental health, the most important thing is to reach out to a friend or neighbor and know you are not alone. Life is not easy. It is a constant struggle and a daily battle. We have to stay strong and rely on each other and support each other. Just love each other and that’s the best we can do.
“I want to thank Omar and Broner first for making this possible. These things happen and sometimes there are withdrawals at the last moment. We were preparing for whatever would happen. We are ready and we just want to show the best fight for boxing fans.
“My last loss [to Jaron Ennis] was at 147 pounds, so I’m going to go back to 140 and I want to be world champion again and show that I’m a force to be reckoned with.
“We just made a decision as a team and realized 147 wasn’t for me. I’m more comfortable at 140 and making weight with no problem. We had a great camp and different opponents gave us been thrown and at the end of the day I feel good. It took a while and I had a lot of different opponents thrown at me. It was frustrating at times but I never complained and I knew that hard work always pays off.
“Everyone knows what I do in the ring and what Omar does in the ring. It’s going to be a great piece of style. We’re not going to pick each other up and not dance. It’s going to be a simple fight and that the best man wins.
“I want to thank my entire team and everyone who is here today. Becoming world champion on Saturday night would mean so much to me.
“A win would change my life forever and change the life of my family forever. It would mean so much to me. Becoming a world champion would change a life.
“If he’s so confident and he thinks he’s going to beat me, then let’s do it. That’s why we fight on Saturday.
“There is no doubt that Hector Garcia and I will win on Saturday. It will be a great victory for our families, for ourselves and for the Dominican Republic. It will be a moment of celebration and a day to never forget.
“First of all, I want to thank SHOWTIME for this opportunity. For me, this is a very important fight for my career and winning a world title would be a huge deal.
“The first time I fought for a world title, I thought a decision had been stolen from me. I believe I won that fight.
“Nothing will stop me this time in this fight. It doesn’t matter who’s against me – King Kong could get in the ring against me, and it wouldn’t matter.
“Just gain 140 pounds and meet me in the ring and I’ll be ready to fight.
“My priority is to make sure this fight ends in a knockout. I don’t want to let this fight go on the judge’s scorecards and I will try to make sure the fight ends that way.
“We are prepared, mentally and physically. I am ready to take up this challenge.
“It doesn’t matter what Garcia says. Every boxer must have this mentality. I’m ready to show that I can beat him. He can’t look behind me.
“I respect him as a fighter, I respect all fighters. I know he’s confident because he just beat Chris Colbert. I’m confident too and I’m ready.
“The year of layoff doesn’t affect me at all. When I fought for the world title, it was also a one-year layoff. You saw what happened there. It probably helped me. I feel good and you’ll see Saturday night.
“Garcia and Chris Colbert fought well. Garcia did his thing. I don’t want to take anything away from him, but I think anyone that night would have beaten Colbert. Colbert was too confident. Once his fight against me was postponed, he forgot about Garcia. That’s what hurt him.
“I’m not basing it on one thing. I know the stats show I’m powerful, but I bring a lot to the ring. I focus on Saturday night. Our goal is to win round by round, but if the opportunity for a knockout arises, I’m ready to take it.
“I’m going to prove the punters wrong again. It motivates me to do better in the ring and become a champion. I want to be that man on Saturday night. I want to win.
“I challenge myself to become world champion for the first time. It means a lot. It means everything for my country to become the fourth world champion there.
“I want to be world champion. This is my chance. I always had confidence in myself. When I beat Chris Colbert, my confidence increased even more, so I believe in myself now more than ever.
“Alberto Puello and I are old friends. We have been friends since we were younger and come from the same town in the Dominican Republic. We both had great careers. If he wins, I will be happy and if I win, he will be happy. It’s all love. Winning titles together would be a great thing for each of us personally and for our families and then for our country. We know we have a whole country behind us and we want to do it for them and for ourselves.
“My last fight showed me I could go 10 rounds strong. I never really deteriorated throughout the fight and there was never any question that I could be strong from Round 1 to Round 10.
“I never neglect my opponent because at the end of the day he has two hands and you have to respect whoever gets in the ring. I’m going to go out there and do what I do, which is get the knockout. So today I’m 25-0 and Saturday night it will be 26-0.
“I just have to keep doing what I’ve been doing. I have to go there with a brain, don’t be stupid and look for the knockout right now. If it comes, it comes. I’ve done 10 laps already and have no problem doing 10 more. Just be smart.
“I love being here on SHOWTIME. Every time I approach SHOWTIME, they give me the full red carpet experience and I really appreciate everything SHOWTIME has done for me.
“I plan to show that I am the veteran fighter on Saturday night. Log in and I’ll show you what I can do. I feel like they’re neglecting me because I’m from lightweight, so I’m a naturally smaller guy. I’ve been overlooked in most of my fights.
“Being the underdog is something I look forward to. Upsetting opponents is my thing.
I’m going to steal the show, so tune in Saturday night and don’t miss the first bell.
“Brandun Lee is a strong, young and promising fighter. I expect him to come in strong, especially at the start of the fight.
“It’s the second time I fight at 140. I feel more comfortable at 140, but it’s a matter of opportunity here. It’s going to be a shootout.
“A win here would mean a lot. This will bring me closer to a world title fight. Whether it’s 135 or 140, that’s what I’m aiming for.
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Founder, Executive Writer, Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for combat sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He is also a veteran MMA fighter and Kickboxer.
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