Undefeated Omar “Panterita” Figueroa (26-0-1, 18 KOs) won an intense slugfest over former world champion Antonio DeMarco (31-6-1, 23 KOs) in primetime Saturday night on Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on NBC from the AT&T Center in San Antonio.
Figueroa earned the unanimous decision in an action-packed battle that saw the south Texas-native throw over 1000 punches across 12 rounds. Figueroa dominated the first six rounds of the fight, throwing numerous combinations and taking minimal damage from his opponent.
The Mexican veteran DeMarco saved his best for the second half of the fight and was able to frequently land clean power punches against the offensive-minded Figueroa. In the 11th-round, DeMarco staggered Figueroa with a series of headshots and appeared to have him in serious trouble. Figueroa recovered enough to survive the round and win the final stanza in the eyes of all three judges.
Combined the fighters threw 1160 power punches against just 519 jabs. Figueroa landed 48 percent of his power shots while DeMarco connected on 45 percent of his. The 1092 to 587 punch output advantage for Figueroa could have proved to be the difference as he out-landed his opponent 414 to 225.
The final judges’ scores were 116-112 and 115-113 twice.
In the co-featured event, Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola (37-4-1, 31 KOs) earned a split-decision victory over Travis “My Time” Kauffman (30-2, 22 KOs) in a 12-round heavyweight showdown that lived up to the pre-fight trash talk between the former sparring partners.
Arreola started out strong, winning the first two rounds on all three judges’ scorecards. In the third round, Kauffman delivered a sensational combination to the head and body that put Arreola on the mat.
The knockdown slowed Arreola down as Kauffman won five rounds between rounds three and nine while displaying excellent footwork and body punching. After a low blow by Kauffman in round nine, Arreola took several minutes to recover before the referee continued the action. The extra time appeared to give Arreola a second wind as he finished strong and closed the fight with an impressive performance in the last three rounds.
The split decision was about as narrow as it could be with two judges’ scoring the bout 114-113 for Arreola and the other judge with the same score for Kauffman. Arreola out-landed Kauffman 216-206 in total punches and connected on 57 percent of his power shots.
Headlining the NBCSN telecast prior, former world champion “Vicious” Victor Ortiz (31-5-2, 24 KOs) returned from a yearlong layoff to stop Gilberto Sanchez-Leon (31-15-2, 13 KOs) in the eighth round of their welterweight bout.
Ortiz was coming back from a broken wrist suffered at the end of his last bout in December 2014 and was able to land 50 percent of his power punches. The stoppage came at 2:57 into the eighth round in a bout scheduled for 10.
San Antonio-native Mario Barrios (14-0, 8 KOs) impressed in front of his hometown fans on his way to stopping Manuel Vides (18-5, 11 KOs) 31 seconds into the sixth round. Barrios showed lethal accuracy, landing 54 percent of his power punches and 46 percent of his total punches.
In NBCSN action that followed the primetime broadcast, 2012 U.S. Olympian Terrell Gausha (17-0, 8 KOs) kept his perfect record intact, defeating Said El Harrak (12-4-2, 7 KOs) in a 10-round middleweight fight. Gausha recorded a knockdown in the second round and cruised to a 100-89 decision according to all three judges.
“These are the kind of fights I love to be in. A little rougher than I would have liked and my face shows it. It was a good fight. I wish I had done better but I always do the best I can.
“My determination is what helped me win this fight. I’m not going to lose a fight. I don’t have that in me. I’ve had every injury. I could have a missing arm but I’m still going to find a way to win the fight.
“It was a great atmosphere. I could hear the fans cheering me on and it’s a great feeling. I know the people here were backing me up and I just wanted to give it my all.
“It was all heart and guts out there. That’s what I rely on when all else fails. We do our best to come out with the victory.
“I want to fight in the 140-pound weight class. Some things happened that were out of our control and we just wanted to put on a show for the fans. My body is getting bigger but I want to do some things at 140-pounds before I move up. We’re doing our best, we’re learning how to do things right. We’re in the learning process.
“My hands feel really good. They look like hands. Which is nice. My face looks like a face, just a beat up face.
“Antonio gave me a lot of respect after the fight and he told me that ‘family is the most important thing.’ We all sacrifice in training camp and we’re just so grateful that we get to fight.
“I have no quit in me. I’ve fought with injuries and adversity. It’s just not in me to quit.”
“I thought I got a draw out of the fight, but he’s here in his home state, with his home crowd, and I respect the decision.
“He was just too big. No excuses, but I know that was why he was able to last the full fight with me.
“He was just pushing me forward, pushing me forward and using his body weight, but he never hurt me at any time.”
“I wasn’t hurt from the knockdown, it was more of a flash knockdown.”
“I pulled it out in the championship rounds. I was in great shape and that was the difference in my winning.
“I had to show him a little different look tonight and not just bull rush him. He came to me, which made it easier for me. Conditioning was the deciding factor tonight.”
“Yes, I would give Travis Kauffman a rematch. Any time, we can do it again.
“I have to earn a world title fight and have to win convincingly. If I fight Deontay Wilder, I have to be in great shape.
“I’m going to take a little vacation with the family then I plan on being back in the gym right after New Years.”
“I’m not the only one that thought I won the fight, the entire crowd thought I won the fight. I fought a great fight. I came here to win. I’m not a slouch, I’m a fighter. I’ve been doing this my entire life.
“I didn’t get the victory that I deserved tonight, but I was able to win over the crowd and I won over America.
“The crowd came in cheering for Chris. They left cheering for me.”
“He was a really tough fighter. He got some good shots in. I don’t like making excuses. In three years, I’ve only fought twice. There was a lot of rust. But I’m just happy to get back in the ring.
“I feel no pain whatsoever. I’m happy for that and ready to move forward.
“My past is in my past. I want to go for it. Any of the top welterweights, I want them.
“This camp was incredible. Not just Joel Diaz, but the whole team has been with me 24/7 and they’ve been awesome. It’s a great asset to have these kind of people in my corner.
“In the past, I always found myself jumping the gun. These coaches have helped me slow down. This is definitely a step forward.
“I’m my own worst critic. There’s a lot to improve on. My reflexes were good but my timing was off. Probably due to inactivity. I’m so thankful for this opportunity and I have a whole new chance to reach my goals.”
“I’m just happy to have been able to put on a great show for my family and friends. Right now I’m feeling great. I couldn’t be any more excited.
“We start with a game plan that revolves around working off our jab and picking our shots. He tended to work up the middle and that’s how we found openings.
“At any point I was ready to sit there and brawl with him, but that wasn’t the plan for this fight. The plan was to be smarter and that’s what we did.
“My height and size is something we always work on and use to our advantage.”
“I’m very happy with my performance but I still have a lot of improvements to make in the gym.”
“I caught him with some good body shots and that was the difference.
“We don’t target anyone, but I’m ready for someone in the top 10. I’d like to fight again in February if possible.”