Omar Figueroa Jr and Adrien Broner are both in pretty much a must-win position when they meet in their Aug. 20 Showtime main event. Figueroa has lost his last two fights, neither of them competitive, and says he had to look inward to address the issues that led to those performances.
“I’m just worried about this fight. I’m not looking at anything else. I don’t know how I’m going to feel, physically and mentally. So much has changed in the past year. I’ve gone through so much since I was diagnosed regarding my mental health. It’s been tough. I’ve been doing this for 27 years now. So I’m really looking forward to this fight,” he said.
Figueroa (28-2-1, 19 KO) says it was after his last fight, a one-sided beating against Abel Ramos, that he knew he had to make a change.
“The biggest thing for me the past few years has been my mental health diagnosis. After my last fight, I knew there was something wrong. We did everything we needed to do in camp, we prepared right to make sure we were 100 percent. Everything went wrong in that fight. I started questioning myself and wondering why the heck everything went so badly.
“I spoke to my doctor and then I was diagnosed with all these mental health issues and that’s when I realized maybe the problem was me all along. I’ve been working on myself so much. I’m just grateful to Showtime and my team and we’re excited to show how far we’ve come.
“Growing up in the Mexican culture, it’s a lot of ‘It’s all in your head. It doesn’t really exist.’ So, I had to look into it alone. I didn’t have the support of my family when it came to that. Even now, they still kind of struggle to see that. I feel it’s very taboo to a lot of people. Thankfully, I’m in a position where, having the platform I have, I’m able to shed some light on it and show that we’re all just human.
“Us boxers may look like we’re invincible, getting punched and cut and fighting through it, but we’re human at the end of the day. I finally took a break and looked inward and started taking care of myself, accepting the fact that I’m human, that I hurt, that I can get anxious and that I can get depressed.
“This camp has shed some light on being vulnerable and how much it helps to allow myself to be human. Now, I talk to my family differently. If I’m having a tough day before I get here to the gym, I’ll talk to my mom or my sister. Or when I’m feeling low, we’ll just embrace. I tell them how much I love them, how much I appreciate them for being here for me. Honestly, being human is one of the best things I decided to do.”
He also sees some parallels between himself and Broner (34-4-1, 24 KO).
“Honestly, there was a time when I was a little bit jealous of Broner. He had such an amazing career and, like me, things got to us,” he said. “As we all know, things haven’t gone the smoothest for us. So I’m getting the word out about mental health, doing more to bring it to the mainstream and I’m glad my opponent is Adrien Broner because he’s a great advocate for that, too. I feel he can make a huge difference if he sheds a little bit of light on it. Other than that, this is a great opportunity and I know it’s going to be a hell of a fight.”
Figueroa also says he can’t be rattled by any Broner trash talk that may come.
“I don’t watch his stuff online and see what he’s doing,” he said. “Even if he does start trash talking, it’s all part of the show. He’s been through his share of struggles and I can say I honestly respect Adrien Broner.”
“It’s going to be a great fight. There will definitely be fireworks,” says Omar’s brother, Brandon Figueroa. “I know my brother is going to put the pressure on Broner. Broner is quick, fast and slick so my brother has to keep that pressure on him, work the body and do the effective work that Marcos Maidana did when he beat Broner. Obviously, it’s not similar styles, but if he follows that game plan I believe it will work.”
“Omar is an offensive-minded fighter. That’s his defence. So we’re working on conditioning for this fight,” father and trainer Omar Sr stated. “Omar is 32. He’s feeling the age a bit. That’s why you take advantage of your youth in this sport. But with Broner, that’s a pretty even fight. We’re looking to win this fight and see what’s next.
“Broner is a great fighter. He derailed a bit, but he’s back on track. He and Omar took different paths and now they’re back on it. I take nothing away from Broner. He looked a little overweight from what I saw, but maybe he knows how to cut weight getting close to the fight.”