Omar Figueroa training camp notes (Premier Boxing Champions)
South Texas’s Omar “El Panterita” Figueroa, the former Lightweight World Champion, heads into training camp on a balmy 118-degree day in Indio, CA, home to his trainer Joel Diaz and his new boxing home-base since January. Figueroa re-enters the boxing ring after a 18-month hiatus on Saturday, July 15 when he takes on former Welterweight World Champion Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero in a 147-pound headline fight on “Premier Boxing Champions” on FOX and FOX Deportes at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT in the first boxing event at the newly-renovated NYCB LIVE, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
The break that Figueroa took saw him embracing his Weslaco, Texas home, which sits right on the border to Mexico. It was a reset hat had been coming for a fighter who fought in both Mexico and the U.S. as an amateur before turning pro after his first semester in college.
“Boxing is a very jealous sport. You do it 100% or you don’t do it at all,” said Figueroa explaining his 18-month break from the ring. “After my last fight, I felt that I needed a break – time to be a father, son, brother and friend. I needed the time to heal body, mind and soul. I fought with broken hands, I fought world-class athletes; having fought since I was 6, I wanted to take a break and just be human. So I took a year off to heal from the injuries, be with my family and friends, be a father and just be me.”
It’s a break that Diaz, who Figueroa trained with before three years ago, agrees with. The two made a plan during his break to have the young fighter come from his Weslaco, TX home to California for an extended training period in preparation for his next fight, as well as set up his camp.
“It’s necessary to take time off,” said Diaz. “Sometimes fighters work too hard in training or in the action that they bring to the fights. Omar is the type of fighter that brings a lot of action to his fights and it takes a toll on his body. He’s an all-out fighter so he needs that time off to recuperate and restart himself. This break in his body and mind helped him recover from that strain, to come back and start fresh again. “
Figueroa faces a tough opponent in Robert Guerrero when he steps back in the ring. Not only is Figueroa fighting above his normal weight class, but he’s also fighting a former Welterweight world champion known to be a tough and cunning opponent.
“Guerrero is one of the toughest challenges for any boxer. He is a tough fighter, he doesn’t back down and he doesn’t quit,” said Figueroa. “You have to go into the fight knowing it’ll go the full 12 rounds and there won’t be any easy part in the fight. But I’m prepared for that, it’s what I’ve been training for and it’s who I am.
“I’m excited and grateful to be the one who opens the Nassau Veterans Coliseum back to boxing and plan to set the standard high, so that when you have fighters there you know they are going be great fights,” added Figueroa.
Team Figueroa will be Figueroa’s father, Omar Figueroa, Sr.; Joel Diaz, Antonio Diaz and Joel Diaz Jr.
Omar Figueroa quotes:
On the Future:
“I don’t plan ahead, I don’t look to next fights. I look at now and think about future fights after it. Make sure I’m healthy.
“I don’t get ahead of myself with boxing. I am a boxer, a former world champion, I love and believe in the power of this sport, but I don’t let it rule my life.”
On changing camp to Indio, CA and working with Joel Diaz:
“January 1 I was back in the boxing mode. Training, running, focusing on diet and getting ready and into camp. The break has given me more focus and the opportunity to change my camp up. I am back training with Joel Diaz in Indio, CA and have been going back to Texas to see my family. My dad will always be my father and a big part of my career, but I felt that when I ended my break, I wanted to change my program and go back to Joel. This is our first fight back and I’m looking forward to it in many ways.”
On training camp:
My health and the time training have been great. I’m getting more and more excited for the fight as I’m getting prepared for it. It’s on my mind.
“I’m older, I’m wiser, I have been through this before and know what not to do and it’s the wisdom that comes with experience.”
Taking time off:
It bought me the tranquility and peace of mind that I’m good, I’m healthy, I’m ready for this, this is what I want and I was missing this. I’ve never been more mentally ready for this fight than now.
Training with his brother, Brandon Figueroa, in Indio:
“It helps me, we push each other. My family is very competitive so it helps to have someone like that training with me. It helps to have Brandon here as well as my cousins; we push each other to the limits. We live together, we train together, and we make sure we are the best we can be.”
On fighting for the first time in New York and Long Island and his expectations:
“This is my first time fighting in New York, I expect the New York crowd to be ready for a good fight, because that’s what they’ll see from me.
“I want to be known for good shows. It’s what we get paid to do as fighters. I showcase the technical side of boxing and add a lot of entertainment behind how I fight, so that’s what the fans get.”
The role that Mexico, Texas and California play in his career:
“I feel like I get the best of all the worlds. I love Mexico – I go there all the time; I plan to go there after the fight. I love California, it’s taught me a lot, the people, the culture, the boxing here is phenomenal; and obviously Texas is where I grew up and it’s made me who I am. I love the opportunities that I get and the things I get to do, who I get to do it with and where I get to do it. “
On Training Camp:
“Training camp has been going great, we’ve had no problems like we have had in previous camps with injuries. His hands are healthy, his weights good, he’s healthy. I think the layoff he took helped him a lot, he wants to get back in it and you can tell he’s motivated,” said Diaz. “It’s a great camp, great atmosphere, he’s looking great. that’s what matters.”
What he’s focusing on:
“Omar Figueroa is a fighter. He’s never going to change. My job is not to change it but make it better. He has a unique style that shows to everyone he’s very effective and it’s my job to get him in the right condition so he gets hit less because he’s a risk taker. You wont see much change on the style, you’ll see the same action Omar that people want to see from him.”
On training both brothers:
“They push each other; Omar being the oldest really pushes his brother. They train in two different weight classes and it’s good that they see the work they do amongst each other. They push each other in conditioning and in the ring. It’s good having them together.”
On his role as trainer:
“I’m in this sport for the fighters, my pride, my work. I take a lot of pride in what I do and I am not trying to fight for a trophy nor am I in it for myself. I’m in it for my fighters. This is work and I’m here to take full responsibility of the fighters in my program. I’m here to make my fighters champions in life not just the ring.
“It took me years of hard work and effort, and now that I’m here I have to work harder, keep my same values and work to stay there.”