True to form as an all-action brawler, Omar Figueroa Jr. let his hands go more than 1,000 times Saturday night. But he was forced to rely on his chin late in order to save his unbeaten record.
Figueroa (26-0-1, 18 KOs) overcame a rally from veteran Antonio DeMarco over the final two rounds that left his face badly swollen to secure a decision win at AT&T Center in San Antonio.
All three judges had it for Figueroa, by scores of 115-113 (twice) and 116-112. ESPN.com also had it 116-112 for Figueroa.
The Premier Boxing Champions main event was expected to be contested at 140 pounds between former lightweight titlists. But the fight was changed to a junior middleweight bout at some point during fight week, with the PBC keeping private the details as to why.
Figueroa, 25, a native of Weslaco, Texas, fought at 135 pounds as recently as August 2014, but weighed in at 151 pounds Friday. He looked soft and faded late against DeMarco (31-6-1, 23 KOs) despite outlanding him 414 to 225, according to CompuBox.
Figueroa also attempted a staggering 1,092 punches.
"Well, you know, I didn't look as good as I wanted to look," Figueroa said. "Things happen. I came out victorious and gave everything I had. I hope the fans enjoyed it."
Figueroa simply outworked his opponent for the majority of an entertaining fight, which featured toe-to-toe action, often with DeMarco's back pinned against the ropes. But despite setting a hectic pace, Figueroa's defense was nonexistent as he squared up and routinely placed himself in range for DeMarco's heavy counter shots.
DeMarco, 29, who briefly retired following a one-sided loss to Rances Barthelemy in June, rallied to sting Figueroa in Round 7 with hard body shots and a clean left cross. But the native of Mexico enjoyed his biggest success in Round 11 by staggering Figueroa with a series of left hands as the two exchanged heavy shots at close range.
In Round 12, DeMarco closed strong as the busier and fresher fighter, stunning Figueroa with a stiff left hand and flurrying in the final seconds before the bell.
Entering Saturday with a record of 2-2-1 in his past five fights, Chris Arreola needed a victory over close friend and former sparring partner Travis Kauffman in order to save his career.
He did so by the slimmest of margins.
Arreola (37-4-1, 31 KOs), a former two-time heavyweight title challenger, survived an early knockdown and hung on for a disputed split-decision victory.
Two judges scored the bout 114-113 for Arreola, with the third favoring Kauffman by the same score. ESPN.com scored the bout for Kauffman, 114-113.
Entering the fight at 236.5 pounds, his lowest weight in four years, Arreola fought in his familiar aggressive style right off the opening bell against the less experienced Kauffman (30-2, 22 KOs). But the two fighters traded fairly evenly throughout, with Arreola slightly outlanding him 216 to 206.
"I thought I had it won," Arreola said. "I won the last four rounds. I put in the work, man. I knew I had to win. The last four rounds I put in more work than he did, and that's what got me the win."
Arreola, 34, was fresh off a pair of uneven performances in 2015. He struggled to outpoint unknown Curtis Harper in a March slugfest and won a debatable majority decision over journeyman Fred Kassi in July. But the Los Angeles native struggled to impress against Kauffman, 30, who hadn't suffered a loss since 2009 despite a very thin résumé.
Kauffman fielded Arreola's early assault well.
In Round 3, he hurt Arreola with a right hand to the body and quickly followed up with a two-punch combination to drop him. Kauffman then staggered Arreola late in Round 12 with a clean right hand.
"I was very surprised [by the decision]," said Kauffman, of Reading, Pennsylvania. "If you hear it, the crowd is chanting for me and not Chris Arreola. I won over the whole Mexican crowd. He's a Mexican fighter and I won over the whole crowd.
"Chris talked a lot of junk before the fight, and that's just who he is. I love Chris like a brother. But I won the fight."