In 2009, Omar “El Panterita” Figueroa, the exciting boxer from Weslaco High School, was signed by Golden Boy Promotions. In the past year, he’s had his fights and highlights appear on Showtime and HBO boxing programming as he continues to build momentum in his young boxing career. He has already developed a reputation for being an exciting brawler that hits with a lot of power. After winning six fights in 2012 to build a 19-0-1 professional record, Figueroa talked to us to discuss his style, his last fight against Salcido, his training in California, and whether or not he will be fighting in the Valley soon.
The Gotch Special: Hello Omar, first I wanted to ask you, can you talk about how you first got interested in boxing and how you first got involved?
Omar Figueroa: Well it was my dad’s thing. Because it’s the way he faced different things here when he moved to the U.S. A lot of bullying, a lot of name calling, he had to fight to protect himself. He didn’t want me going through the same thing, so he taught me how to box. First off defense, we just started fighting and we started going to the local shows and all that. And it just took off from there.
TGS: One of the things you’ve been known for, is being really aggressive and having a killer instinct in your fights. How beneficial is it to your career to fight in a manner that fans consider very exciting and entertaining?
OF: Well we’re gladiators. We’re being paid to fight, we get paid to entertain the fans. That’s our job, to fight. I can’t put it any other way. I love fighting, I love getting hit, I love hitting. That’s just the way I go about my business. I’m all about what boxing truly is, and I go in there to fight. I’m happiest when someone, when my opponent goes in there to fight too and we fight a great fight. That’s what I look for in boxing.
TGS: Okay, most recently you fought with Dominic Salcido and it went to a 10 round decision. So I was wondering, what do you gain from going 10 rounds for the first time in your career?
OF: Well it was kinda…..how do I put it. It was like “damn this fight never finished”. It was boring to me because he wasn’t really doing much. He was just holding and he was not letting me fight back. He was mainly just moving back, running and holding me. So the fight became a stalemate in the middle rounds because he wasn’t doing anything. I was like “what the hell”. I was getting frustrated because he wasn’t letting me fight and he wasn’t fighting himself so I was “what the hell did I come here for”. But no, I’m glad I won the 10 rounds, I felt great. Even though I’ve been busy, been fighting almost every month, and that was my third fight within a month in a half, I felt that I did good condition wise. I felt good, so I got to see what 10 rounds feels like so now I know what I have to do to prepare better in the future.
TGS: Also you spent a good portion of 2012 training in California. How was that experience and who did you train with over there?
OF: I spent 7 months in California. I loved it over there, I loved it over there actually. It’s a great camp, it’s just like being here at home. Everyone makes you feel like family. The sparring partners, the other coaches, the other people that train there. It’s a great environment. That’s the kinda environment that I would recommend any boxer to be in. It feels great, it just makes you work harder.
TGS: Whenever you’re fighting outside South Texas, do you ever feel like you’re representing the Valley and Weslaco?
OF: Oh yeah definitely. You know, not only that, but also Mexico cause I’m Mexican-American. I believe, I don’t consider myself more American or more Mexican, I believe that I’m half and half. If anything, I would be more Mexican because both of my parents are Mexican. I was raised in Mexico in the first years of my life and then that’s when we moved over here when I had to start school. So I represent the little town from Mexico that my parents are from and that I was raised, which is Rio Bravo. I represent that, and Mexico, along with Weslaco and the United States and I fight for both of those colors.
TGS: And for this next fight, you’re going to be training in Weslaco. Who are you going to be training with in Weslaco?
OF: I’m going to be training with my dad here in Weslaco. Certain things that have happened, I had to move my camp back down here. I’m happy to adapt, but I think it’ll be good having not been home for seven months. I think it’s going to be good changing it up a bit.
TGS: Any word on who you’re going to be fighting against next?
OF: No sir, we don’t know that yet.
TGS: Oh okay. But it’s currently scheduled for October 26th at the State Farm Arena. Is that correct?
OF: Well I don’t know anymore. Because my dad, I think, talked to Robert Diaz today, who is the matchmaker for Golden Boy. I don’t know anymore. I don’t think it’s going to happen on that date anymore. So I don’t even know what to think or what. I don’t want to confirm anything with the fans because they had already told me that it was going to be that date. But I think my dad told me that they weren’t so sure anymore. So I don’t want to change it up though, I don’t want to put “I’m not fighting anymore” because I’m not sure. But once they confirm that I’m not fighting, then I’ll post it on my fanpage on Facebook. But if things don’t change, then I’m just going to go with October 26th.
TGS: If you do fight, it will be your 7th fight [in 2012]. What does a young prospect like you gain from fighting on such a regular basis?
OF: Well just trying to get the experience. Just tying to get the experience, that way, hopefully Golden Boy is looking to put me in a major title fight soon. So they are just trying to get me to that level. Trying to get me to gain that experience. Trying to get me to the world championship caliber that they want me to be in, that they think I belong in. So you know, I’m thankful that they think that of me. I’m thankful that they’re looking to give me that opportunity. I have nothing but appreciation for them and for everyone that’s been a part of my team because it’s been a dream come true. I came from nothing, and now to be regarded as one of the top prospects, and to be even looked at as a major world title contender, it’s just a blessing. I can’t be more grateful than I already am. Words can’t depict how great I feel, how I honored I am to be among those ranks.
TGS: Before we go, would you like to plug anything or tell the fans where they can find you online so they could find out more about you?
OF: Yeah sure, I have a twitter now, it’s Omar Figueroa Jr. and well my Facebook fanpage is Omar Panterita Figueroa . I wish I could add more people on my personal page but I’ve already reached my limit, so it’s either my fanpage or twitter. I suck at the whole media internet thing, I almost never post stuff, I just forget. Too preoccupied with doing other things. So I’m sorry, I’ll try to be more considerate on letting my fans in on what’s going on and what not. I promise I’ll try to do a better job. Other than that I just want to thank everyone who’s helped me to get where I am right now and I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity for this interview.
TGS: Alright, thank you very much for your time. I really appreciate it. Good luck on everything, good luck on your next fight and hopefully everything goes well.
OF: Yes sir, no problem, thank you.