Premier Boxing Champions rounded out the Deontay Wilder-Luis Ortiz II pay-per-view card on Tuesday by adding a pair of potentially action-packed fights.
Brandon Figueroa will defend his junior featherweight world title against former titleholder Julio Ceja, while former bantamweight titleholders Luis Nery and Emmanuel Rodriguez will square off on Nov. 23 (Fox Sports PPV, 9 p.m. ET) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
In previously announced bouts, Wilder will defend his heavyweight world title in the main event in a rematch with Ortiz, and Leo Santa Cruz will battle Miguel Flores for a vacant junior lightweight world title.
Figueroa will be making his first defense against Ceja after having previously been an interim titleholder. However, last week the WBA elevated “regular” 122-pound titleholder Daniel Roman to so-called “super” titleholder status and also elevated Figueroa from interim titleholder to its secondary beltholder.
The 22-year-old Figueroa (20-0, 15 KOs), of Weslaco, Texas, was impressive in his interim title bouts, making Yonfrez Parejo quit after eight round in April to claim the vacant interim belt and then scoring a dominating fourth-round knockout of Javier Nicholas Chacon in a homecoming defense on Aug. 24. Figueroa has won his last seven fights by knockout.
“This is probably going to be the biggest test of my career in the first defense of my title against a solid fighter like Ceja,” Figueroa said. “To be fighting on pay-per-view of the Wilder-Ortiz II undercard at MGM Grand is a dream come true. I’ve been working towards this moment my whole life. I attended (Manny) Pacquiao versus (Keith) Thurman in July and the crowd was electric that night.
“I told myself while watching that fight ringside that I couldn’t wait to fight at MGM on a similar card, and now look at where we are. Ceja might have lost against (Guillermo) Rigondeaux, but he put on a great fight and I know he’s going to come forward and brawl with me on Nov. 23.”
Ceja (32-4, 28 KOs), 26, of Mexico, is coming off back-to-back knockout losses, a fourth-round stoppage to Franklin Manzanilla in May 2018 and an eighth-round knockout to former world champion Rigondeaux on June 23 in a competitive fight. Ceja led on all three scorecards – 68-65, 68-65 and 67-66 – at the time of the stoppage.
“This is a great opportunity and I plan to win the world title again on Nov. 23,” Ceja said. “I know what it takes to win and I will have the best training of my career for this fight. I hope Brandon Figueroa is prepared for fireworks. This title is coming back to Mexico for my country, my pride and my people.”
Nery (30-0, 24 KOs), a 24-year-old southpaw from Mexico, held a bantamweight world title from 2017 to 2018 but was stripped before a defense for failing to make weight. But since then he has made weight and won four more fights in a row. He also scored 11 knockouts in a row.
“I’m excited for another opportunity to perform on the biggest stage and show that I’m the best bantamweight in the world,” Nery said.
“Rodriguez is a tough competitor and he will help bring out my best on Nov. 23. Mexico and Puerto Rico have a storied rivalry in this sport and I intend to make my mark in history with a spectacular win.”
Rodriguez (19-1, 12 KOs), 27, of Puerto Rico, lost his 118-pound world title by second-round knockout to Japanese star Naoya Inoue on May 18 in the semifinals of the World Boxing Super Series.
Rodriguez was initially scheduled to return to the ring on Saturday’s Showtime undercard against former world titlist Rau’shee Warren, but the fight was canceled when Warren withdrew earlier this month because of a right hand injury. Now he will instead face Nery that will be scheduled for either 10 or 12 rounds.
“Switching opponents is no problem for me since we always train for different fighting styles,” Rodriguez said. “My Puerto Rican and Mexican people want to see a great fight and that’s what they will have on Nov. 23. I know what Nery brings to the table and I’m ready for that. We are confident in victory and that in 2020 I will be crowned world champion again.”