Omar Figueroa outlasts Nihito Arakawa in incredible, back-and-forth lightweight title slugfest

Kevin Iole
Boxing Experts Blog

This is a can't-miss fight. If you don't have Showtime, you need to order it, if for no reason other than to catch the replay of the unbelievably entertaining battle that Omar Figueroa and Nihito Arakawa put on Saturday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.

They combined to throw 2,112 punches and land 760 in one of the most breathtaking battles in year. The unbeaten Figueora, who hurt both of his hands early in the fight, won the bout via unanimous decision to earn the WBC interim lightweight title.

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In the big picture, sanctioning body title belts are meaningless. The bravery, determination, courage and toughness that Figueroa and Arakawa showed on Saturday, though, will live forever in boxing lore.

It is among the finest fights of 2013, right on a par with Timothy Bradley's win over Ruslan Provodnikov and Mike Alvarado's win over Brandon Rios.

Figueroa, who won by scores of 118-108, 119-107 and 118-108, scored a pair of knockdowns and clubbed Arakawa with shots that seemingly would have floored a horse. But Arakawa kept battling through the punishment and made himself an iconic figure despite being blown out on the scorecards.

"Great fight, man," Figueroa said as he embraced Arakawa in the ring. "Nothing but respect, dude."

Figueroa landed 51 percent of his shots, according to ShoStats (480 of 942) and many of them were flush on the head. By the midpoint of the fight, referee Laurence Cole was watching carefully and there had to be a lot of consideration to stopping it.

But Arakawa kept fighting back and Cole let him go on. Early in the 12th round, as Arakawa and Figueroa battled along the ropes, Showtime play-by-play man Mauro Ranallo exclaimed, "Is this the 12th round or is the first?"

Showtime's Hall of Fame boxing analyst Al Bernstein might have paid it the ultimate tribute when he compared it to the legendary Arturo Gatti-Micky Ward trilogy, saying, "This is Ward-Gatti-esque!"

Figueroa won over the crowd with his ability in the ring, but then did the same as he was being interviewed by Showtime's Jim Gray. As the interview was finished, Figueroa removed the title belt, that had been placed over his shoulder, and gave it to his father in a touching moment.

Showtime will undoubtedly replay the match a number of times. It's a can't miss for even a casual boxing fan.

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