Justin Figueroa’s dream will come true on Saturday.
As a 2017 Holy Spirit High School graduate, Figueroa and his brother played a series of boxing video games called “Fight Night.” As a lifelong resident of Atlantic City, he always chose the same place to have those mock fights – the Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall.
“At the time, Atlantic City was all we knew,” said Figueroa, who started boxing at age 10. “It was the craziness that was coming to life. We kind of showed it.”
The 23-year-old will make his professional boxing debut Saturday at Boardwalk Hall when he fights Tavaris Smith (0-5) of Toledo, Ohio, in one of eight bouts on the Boardwalk Boxing: Rising Star Series card. The fight begins at 6:30 p.m. Figueroa’s is a four-round middleweight bout.
“I’m definitely excited,” said Figueroa, who has been training at various venues around the state and the Philadelphia area since completing the amateur circuit in December 2021. The last 12 weeks have been spent mainly training at the resort. “It’s really a dream.”
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Figueroa will have plenty of fans on Saturday.
“I feel like I’ve been waiting for this moment for a while,” he said. “I feel ready, I’m ready to put it all on the line. Sometimes I’m a little nervous and a little nervous about it because it’s my first time around it. So there’s a little bit of nervousness, but then I remember all the effort I put into it, I feel like I’m taking the time.”
“I can’t wait to show you all the hard work I’ve been doing.”
Weigh-ins are set for 2 p.m. Friday at the Spirit Bar Showboat in Atlantic City and will be open to the public. Millville-based company Rising Star Promotions will produce the event along with the Atlantic City Sports Commission. Local fighter Thomas “Cornflake” Laman runs Rising Star, which has promoted cards since 2015.
Lamanna (31-5-1, 13 KOs), a 2011 Millville graduate, will fight Saul Roman (46-15, 38 KOs) of Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico in an eight-round main event, scheduled for a middleweight bout. Start at 9:00
LaManna hasn’t fought at the resort since 2018.
In the year Lamana, who fought in Philadelphia in 2020, said: “I’m very happy to be back. It will be great. I’m trying not to think about all my nerves. I look forward to it. .”
Laman earned a second-round TKO in August 2021, his last fight. In the year In May 2021, he lost to Erislandy Lara in the World Boxing Association Middleweight Championship.
Lamana thought that was his last fight.
“I just had to come back,” he pleaded. “I just hit a bad spot, and I didn’t want to go out like that. I just missed wrestling. I enjoyed promoting. I still enjoy promoting and I’ll continue to do these shows, but I’m a fighter first. I always have and always will be. I want to continue my wrestling career.”
Laman is tentatively scheduled to fight for the WBA regional title in two weeks in Colombia. Lamana expects the fight and the whole event will be good on Saturday.
“I’m glad,” Lamana said. “I’m looking forward to everything. Me and the other fighters have to be great that night and write another Atlantic City boxing history.”
Rising Star also headlined a card at Boardwalk Hall’s Adrian Phillips Ballroom in March, which Figueroa attended. After seeing the incident, Figueroa wanted to fight in the next card of Rising Star.
“I feel that this is what Atlantic City needs,” said Figueroa, who praised Rising Star for putting on this event and Saturday’s atmosphere will be electric. “Boxing has played a big role in Atlantic City, and I’m excited to bring boxing to Atlantic City, the city I grew up in. It’s going to be a great event.”
Figueroa wrestled up and down the East Coast as a child but discovered other sports as a teenager. Pleased with the group’s appearance, he left the fight. He played football and wrestled with the spirit of the two major sports.
Figueroa played baseball and competed in track and field. He is a member of the Atlantic City Coast Guard. Being a good athlete helps in the ring.
Figueroa began training to fight again in 2018. He won an amateur fight in 2019, months before the Covid-19 pandemic brought everything to a halt. Last year, Figueroa won 8 of 10, but his one loss came against a top-ranked amateur fighter in the country.
“My plan was to win everything because I had high hopes, but when I lost, it was a very close fight, but they gave it to someone else, it crushed my dreams. It broke my heart when I lost that fight.”
But he wanted to “go back to my hometown and do my best to bring boxing back to Atlantic City.”
“I feel more than prepared,” Figueroa said, “I’ve trained my heart, I’ve dedicated my life to boxing.” I feel like I’m well prepared, there’s definitely room for improvement, and I’ll try to get better every fight. I think I’m ready.
Contact Patrick Mulranen: 609-272-7217
“I feel ready. I’m ready to put it all on the line.” Justin Figueroa in his Probox debut
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