Welterweight Omar Figueroa Jr. returned with a vengeance from a 19-month layoff, dropping Robert Guerrero five times in a third-round knockout victory in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card on Fox on Saturday night at the newly renovated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.
The Long Island arena was hosting a boxing event for the first time since Mike Tyson fought there in 1986, and Figueroa, a former lightweight world titleholder, showed the kind of aggressiveness before the crowd of 7,492 that the old Iron Mike used to display.
After Guerrero (33-6-1, 18 KOs) had a good first round, Figueroa (27-0-1, 19 KOs) went to work and turned Guerrero into a punching bag in a fight that featured plenty of action but was one-sided. After the fight Guerrero was taken to Nassau University Medical Center for precautionary reasons.
Figueroa took the time off in large part because of his chronically injured hands, which he estimates he has broken six or seven times. He said the layoff let his hands rest and that he felt good in his return as Guerrero suffered the first knockout loss of his career.
“I’m finally healthy. That’s it,” Figueroa said. “He put up a great effort. My respect to Robert. It’s an honor to be sharing the same ring with him and even better to beat him.”
In the second round, Figueroa landed a massive left uppercut that snapped Guerrero’s head back and knocked him down barely a minute into the round. Guerrero mounted a brief comeback but was soon down again from a right hand. And then it was a pair of left hands that sent him to the mat with about 20 seconds to go.
“We threw the punches we practiced a lot in training camp, the left uppercut. It just happened to work,” Figueroa said.
Guerrero, 34, of Gilroy, California, coming off an 11-month layoff, appeared to have weathered the storm when he came out fast for the third round and forced Figueroa into the corner, but Figueroa did not waiver. He fired back a right hand and Guerrero went down for the fourth times. Moments later, Figueroa landed a left hand to the body and Guerrero went down to a knee, and referee Ron Lipton waved it off at 1 minute, 34 seconds.
According to CompuBox punch statistics, Figueroa landed 88 of 185 punches (48 percent), and Guerrero, a southpaw, landed 78 of 201 (39 percent).
Although Figueroa, 27, of Weslaco, Texas, looked good as a welterweight, he said he wants to go down to junior welterweight to look for a world title.
“I felt good. I want to win a title at 140,” said Figueroa, who held a lightweight world title from 2013 to 2014 before moving up in weight.
For Guerrero, who has not looked good in years, the loss appears to be the end of the road for him at least in terms of major televised fights.
He has won world titles at featherweight and junior lightweight, as well as interim belts at lightweight and welterweight, but now has lost five of his past seven fights; it easily could have been six losses in that span but for kind scorecards in a 2015 bout with Aron Martinez.
Browne destroys Monaghan
Light heavyweight Marcus Browne, a 2012 U.S. Olympian, spent time in the gym sparring with Seanie Monaghan and they have been friends for several years. But when it came to the real fight, Browne destroyed his former sparring partner and pal in two rounds in front of Monaghan’s hometown crowd.
“I want thank Sean for giving me the opportunity and taking the fight,” Browne said. “It was very tough. This is a guy I got love for, but I just had to take care of business and do what I had to do.”
Browne (20-0, 15 KOs), a southpaw from Staten Island, New York, got off to a strong start, knocking down Monaghan, a Long Island fan favorite, with a clean straight left hand about 30 seconds into the fight. Monaghan (28-1, 17 KOs) also was hurt by a left hand that strayed below the belt, and referee Steve Willis warned Browne for the foul.
Browne, 26, continued to pound on Monaghan in the second round. He landed a powerful right hook that sent Monaghan, 35, into the ropes, and then Browne pounced. He landed about a dozen unanswered punches, and as Monaghan looked for cover along the ropes, Willis jumped in and stopped the one-sided bout at 40 seconds.
According to CompuBox punch statistics, Browne landed 42 of 105 punches (40 percent), while Monaghan connected on only 9 of 52 (17 percent), none of which remotely hurt Browne.
Browne wants a world title fight next and targeted Montreal’s Adonis Stevenson (29-1, 24 KOs), the lineal champion.
“I want Adonis Stevenson next. I want to fight for that strap and bring it back home to New York City,” Browne said.
Kownacki drills Szpilka
Brooklyn-based Polish heavyweight Adam Kownacki tore countryman Artur Szpilka apart in a dominant fourth-round-knockout victory, by far the biggest win of his blossoming career.
Before the fight, Kownacki said the fight would be his “coming out party. I’m going to make a statement on Saturday. I’ve been patiently waiting for this chance, and now I’m going to prove that I belong.”
He did exactly what he said he would.
Kownacki, 28, roughed up Szpilka, also 28, in the third round and then took him out impressively in the fourth, in which he scored two knockdowns.
Kownacki (16-0, 13 KOs) unleashed a flurry of about 10 unanswered punches, including multiple big right hands, to knock Szpilka down for the first time. When Kownacki landed two massive right hands during the follow-up attack, Szpilka, who regularly left his hands at his side and paid for it, sagged into the corner as referee Arthur Mercante stopped the fight at 1 minute, 37 seconds.
“I always knew that I had him. From the first shot I hit him in the body, I knew he didn’t have enough. My pressure was too much,” Kownacki said.
According to CompuBox, Kownacki landed 63 of 222 punches (28 percent) and Szpilka, southpaw, connected with 27 of 144 (19 percent).
“He hit me once with a good shot and after that I just never recovered,” Szpilka said. “I’m going to rest now. This was not how I wanted this to go, and I’m very disappointed. I wish Adam the best going forward. This is a very hard moment for me.”
Szpilka (20-3, 15 KOs), coming off an 18-month layoff, suffered his second knockout loss in a row, having been knocked unconscious in brutal fashion in the ninth round of a world-title challenge against Deontay Wilder in January 2016.
“It took Deontay Wilder and Bryant Jennings a lot longer to get him out of there,” Kownacki said. “But I still have things that I’m going to go back and fix. Once I improve those aspects of my game, I think that a lot of people are going to know me.
“Whatever he was doing, I was ready for. I worked for four weeks with Tomasz Adamek in Poland, and then four weeks here, so it was really an ideal camp. I was able to really just focus on boxing and put myself in this position.”