Light welterweight prospect Francisco Figueroa (19-2, 13 KOs) defeated Luis Rodriguez (22-2, 13 KOs) by a 12-round unanimous decision on Wednesday night to retain his NABF light welterweight title at the Gotham Hall, in New York, New York. The final judges’ scores were 118-110, 117-111 and 116-112, all for Figueroa. Going into the fight, the 23 year-old Rodriguez was thought to have been able to make this a close fight based on his excellent record. However, at once glance of his record, with all of the fights taking place against unknown opposition, I should have been more skeptical about his chances in the fight.

Built like a tall string bean, Rodriguez rarely used his height to his advantage against the much shorter Figueroa. Instead, Rodriguez allowed t Figueroa to bull his way to the inside and stay there for most of the fight, hitting Rodriguez over and over with short head shots. In fact, Rodriguez took an awful lot of head shots for a fight with such a low level title at stake. With the fight going very much against him in the later rounds of the fight, he may have been better off if he had just folded his cards and quit on his stool in between rounds, especially considering he had no power to speak of an almost a zero chance of scoring a knockout of Figueroa.

The fight was somewhat interesting in the first round, as both fighters traded hard shots at close quarters. Rodriguez looked his best in the early going, appearing a little like a poor man’s version of Antonio Margarito. However, where Rodriguez differed from Margarito, though, was in the area of punch output, where Rodriguez was only average. It’s fair to add that Figueroa, 29, had a lot to do with Rodriguez’s less than impressive punch stats, for he kept him bottled up much of the time with his own non-stop punching attack. Figueroa’s shots weren’t all that hard, but the constant nature of the punches were enough to keep Rodriguez from letting his own hands go as much as he otherwise would have.

Whenever Figueroa would let up on his own shots, however, Rodriguez would open up with his own attack and land quite effectively. Like Figueroa, Rodriguez couldn’t punch his way out of a wet paper bag but he could hit hard enough to create problems if he were able to land enough shots. In terms of skill, neither of these fighters are what I consider to be top 15 talent, and I can’t see either of them ever cracking the top tier, let alone ever win a major title. They did, however, put on a fairly pleasing fight given their low B-level status. Figueroa_Luis3.jpg

In rounds two through six, Figueroa kept the fight on the inside, hitting Rodriguez with some excellent hooks to the head and chopping lefts to the head. Rodriguez, for some odd reason, never seemed to have the presence of mind to take the fight to the outside where he would use his long reach to his advantage. If he was given instructions by his corner help in between rounds, then he certainly wasn’t listening to a word they said because he appeared to not even try to take the fight to the outside.

This, in effect, gave the shorter Figueroa a huge advantage because with his short arms, he would have had serious problems against Rodriguez if he had stayed at a distance and used his jab to pound away at Figueroa. By the 6th round, however, Figueroa started to show signs of slowing down just a little. He still won the round by a close margin but he was beginning to get hit a little more from Rodriguez.

In rounds seven and eight, both fighters were looking tired, especially Figueroa, who looked like a wet noodle out there. Rodriguez,


however, was unable to take full advantage of Figueroa’s fatigue because he was still allowing him to stay in close much of the time. Rodriguez did land enough possibly to edge the rounds, but they were still very close.

Rodriguez came on in rounds nine and ten, and appeared to clearly win the rounds, as he hit Figueroa with lots of hooks and uppercuts to the head. Figueroa, for his part, would fire back with his own shots but he had almost no power to speak of on his .punches by this time in the fight

In rounds eleven and twelve, Figueroa somehow willed himself back into the fight, letting his hands go with a high number of shots, most of them short. He didn’t have to put a lot of power on his shots, because he seemed to be just trying to make contact with Rodriguez. Whatever the case, the strategy worked for Figueroa as he easily won the last two rounds with little coming back from Rodriguez. It wasn’t pretty but Figueroa did enough to get the win.

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