Chris Arreola won a questionable decision Saturday night on PBC on NBC, followed by Omar Figueroa winning a decision he deserved but that nonetheless said some unflattering things about him. Both fights delivered excellent action, even if the winners’ trophies come with some tarnish.
In the main event, Omar Figueroa came in having missed the 140-pound weight limit and negotiating a next day cap of 151 — and there were rumors he had moved up a couple more divisions by fight night, too. Considering that his opponent was Antonio DeMarco, who’d been on a skid and had to be coaxed out of retirement — and that they were fighting on Figueroa’s home turf in Texas — and that’s plenty of advantages for him coming in. But perhaps the weight spoke to a fighter who didn’t train seriously enough for an opponent he didn’t expect to give him any trouble.
And for almost six rounds, DeMarco gave him very little trouble. Figueroa did what he usually does, which is to pressure, stalk, get punched and land four for every one his opponent does. But by the second half of the fight, DeMarco was finding room to slide around and get the bout into the middle of the ring, and he was firing big lefts. DeMarco’s power looked solid; as a taller man, he may have adjusted to the new, higher weight better than Figueroa. He was also the better boxer, overall. Figueroa is limited and DeMarco showed it more than others have.
By the 10th round, Figueroa’s face was swelling badly (his whole face, too, like his jowls) and by the 11th, DeMarco had Figueroa in trouble. Too bad for DeMarco that he either couldn’t or wouldn’t sustain it. Two judges saw DeMarco winning five rounds, one six, which is about right. Figueroa seemed disappointed in his showing, so maybe this will motivate him to get back into the gym and train fully, plus pick up some wrinkles (like, occasionally, avoiding a punch). But DeMarco showed, for now, how limited he is. He was a contender at 135. Right now, he looks like a guy who can draw a crowd in Texas and little more.
On the undercard, Arreola might’ve deserved a draw, but not the win he got. This, too, was a fight that demonstrated all the combatants’ limits, although no one here has looked like a future contender for awhile; Arreola came in lighter than ever, but his stamina was still crap, while Travis Kauffman couldn’t dodge a thing. Through the halfway point, it was evenly contested, even though Kauffman scored a lovely combination and knockdown in the 3rd, but Kauffman came on in the middle rounds. Arreola was fading badly but found a reserve of energy after getting a rest following a 9th round low blow, and might’ve won the remaining three rounds. Still, the 114-113, 114-113 and 113-114 scores weren’t quite right. Kauffman deserves a rematch, and it would be a nice way for PBC to kick off the early part of the new year — giving a fighter a shot at justice in a bout that was well worth watching the first time around.
(Photo: Figueroa, via PBC on Twitter)