Undefeated former world champion Omar “El Panterita” Figueroa Jr. takes on Yordenis Ugás in a 12-round WBC welterweight title eliminator highlighting a loaded undercard in support of the Manny Pacquaio vs. Keith Thurman battle for welterweight supremacy that headlines Premier Boxing Champions on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View on Saturday, July 20 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
The action also features hard-hitting former world champion Sergey Lipinets going toe-to-toe against rugged veteran John “The Gladiator” Molina, Jr. in a 10-round welterweight match. The show opens with former world champions squaring-off as undefeated power-puncher Luis “Pantera” Nery takes on slick-boxing Juan Carlos Payano in a 12-round bantamweight bout at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
The stacked card is the perfect accompaniment for the summer’s biggest fight, which will pit boxing’s only eight-division world champion and Philippine Senator Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao against undefeated WBA Welterweight World Champion Keith “One Time” Thurman in a powerhouse 147-pound showdown in the main event. This high-stakes match will firmly give the winner a claim for the top spot in one of boxing’s deepest and most talented divisions.
Figueroa (28-0-1, 19 KOs) is a come forward boxer-puncher who’s yet to meet an opponent who could slow down his relentless style. The 29-year-old from Weslaco, Texas, is coming off a unanimous decision victory over John Molina Jr. in February on FOX. A former lightweight world champion, Figueroa owns victories over former world champions including Robert Guerrero, Ricky Burns and Antonio DeMarco.
“I’m excited for this fight against a talented Olympian who’s very skilled,” said Figueroa in a press release. “I know he will be moving around the ring a lot, so I’m going to have to move with him and chase him all night. I’m going to have to be in really good shape and work hard on my conditioning. This fight has definitely raised the stakes for me, so I know I have to be ready. I’m going to have a good camp and come in with excellent preparation for July 20.”
The 32-year-old Ugás (23-4, 11 KOs) has been one of the busiest welterweight contenders in boxing the last two years, fighting three times in both 2017 and 2018. Ugás, who is from Santiago, Cuba and now lives in Miami, Florida, was on an eight-fight win streak before losing a narrow split-decision to Shawn Porter in a world title fight on FOX in March.
“I’m very excited to be on the biggest card of the year,” said Ugás in a press release. “Omar Figueroa Jr. is a tremendous fighter, and that’s the style I like to face. I’m an all-action fighter and the fans are going to be in for a full course meal before the actual main event. That I can promise. You don’t want to miss this event and you don’t want to miss this war. I’m grateful to FOX Sports and PBC for including me in an event of this magnitude.”
The 30-year-old Lipinets (15-1, 11 KOs) made a successful debut at 147-pounds in March with a TKO victory over former two-division champion Lamont Peterson in a PBC on FS1 fight that is an early Fight of the Year frontrunner. Lipinets, who was born in Kazakhstan, grew up in Russia and now lives in Los Angeles, has only one loss on his record. He lost his 140-pound belt in a 2018 showdown against four-division champion Mikey Garcia.
“There’s no slowing down in my march to get that welterweight championship belt,” said Lipinets to the media. “As always, I’m fighting a guy that is very dangerous and tough to the last bell. My title shot is right around the corner. I’m very excited to be part of a show like this and I’m grateful for these opportunities in my career and I promise that I’ll earn my keep. I’m looking forward to becoming a two-time world champion.”
Molina (30-8, 24 KOs) is coming off a close unanimous decision loss to Omar Figueroa Jr. in February. A tough veteran brawler, Molina, of West Covina, California, has been in the ring with some of the top boxers at lightweight, junior welterweight and welterweight. Over his 13-year career, he’s been involved in multiple Fight of the Year contenders while picking up victories over Ruslan Provodnikov, Mickey Bey, Hank Lundy and Ivan Redkach.
“It’s going to be another barnburner like every one of my fights,” said Molina in a press release. “My opponent is tough and durable, so I know it is going to be another exciting fight for my fans. There’s no surprises at this stage of the game for me. This is going to be a huge night from top to bottom and I can’t wait.”
Nery (29-0, 23 KOs) is a power puncher and has stopped his last 10 opponents and 14 of his last 15. He scored a TKO victory over Shinsuke Yamanaka for the world bantamweight title in 2018. The 24-year-old southpaw from Tijuana, Mexico is coming off a dominant stoppage victory over McJoe Arroyo on the March PBC on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View.
“I am thrilled to be back on a PBC on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View event and to be fighting on a card with my friend, Senator Manny Pacquiao,” said Nery in a press release. “To fight in Las Vegas has been a dream of mine since I turned professional. All the great Mexican fighters have fought in the fight capital of the world. My fight against Juan Carlos Payano is the last step to me getting my shot at the WBC championship and getting my belt back. Viva Mexico!”
Payano (21-2, 9 KOs) is coming off a unanimous decision victory over then-unbeaten Damien Vazquez in October on FS1. It was a bounce back victory from his loss to Naoya Inoue in a world title match last October. The only other loss in the career of the 35-year-old from La Vega, Dominican Republic came in another world title match, when he dropped a majority decision to Rau’shee Warren in 2016, after previously beating Warren for the title in 2015.
“Manny Pacquiao has been my favorite fighter since I’ve been a pro and I’m very excited to be fighting on this pay-per-view,” said Payano to the media. “I even nicknamed myself ‘Baby Pacquiao,’ so this is a special honor. Fighting Luis Nery is also a great opportunity for me. Luis is a very hungry, strong fighter looking to regain his championship status. Unfortunately, he is not going to do that with me. I’m sure he will be ready and come for war, and so will I.”