By Miguel Maravilla at ringside
Photos: Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions
Weslaco, Texas’s Brandon “The Heartbreaker” Figueroa (20-0-1, 15 KOs) made the first defense of his WBA super bantamweight title and retained the belt against former champion Julio Ceja (32-4-1, 28 KOs) via twelve round draw on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Judges scored the fight 115-113 for Figueroa, 116-112 for Ceja, and 114-114 draw. Figueroa risked his belt despite Ceja missing weight by 4.5 pounds. If Ceja had won, the WBA title would have become vacant.
Figueroa ripped Ceja from the start backing him to the ropes and showing he was the much superior fighter. Trading away in round two, Ceja got his shots in as Figueroa stood in the pocket. Figueroa kept connecting in the third but Ceja held his own despite getting tagged. Working away in the fourth, Figueroa began boxing as he continued to outwork Ceja.
The champ came out ripping away in the fifth but Ceja stood in their with him getting some shots in. Staying close in the sixth, Ceja cut the distance as Figueroa traded, later in the round Ceja’s lip was busted. Halfway through in the seventh continuing on the inside, Figueroa and Ceja did not hold back. In the eighth the fighting continued as the taller fighter Figueroa kept staying in Ceja’s range.
Late in the fight in the ninth, Figueroa began sticking the jab and move away slowly as Ceja worked his way in ripping the body. Ceja continued to rip the body in the tenth and landed a huge left hook that snapped Figueroa’s head. In the championship rounds Ceja displayed his willingness as he continued to go at Figueroa and outworked the champ. The twelfth and final round Figueroa and Ceja went at each other to the final bell in what was a fun fight.