Being a professional athlete isn’t just about making money while being in the public eye. It also provides a platform to make a difference and an opportunity to expand horizons beyond athletics. Long gone are the days of athletes only competing in their sport. Take Francisco “El Gato” Figueroa (20-4-1 13KO’s) for example, on top of being a world class boxer, he’s added being an entertainer, a lifestyle coach, and soon an athletic clothing line to his brand. His motto can’t stop won’t stop, which is trending worldwide on twitter, isn’t only words that he speaks but also words that he lives by. “I’ve always been a hard worker, you know. Can’t stop won’t stop is my slogan and that’s who I am. I can’t stop won’t stop for nobody. Nobody in this world can stop me. Only person that can stop me is God himself, and he sits back and watches me do my thing,” Figueroa stated.
Confidence and drive is something that Figueroa has plenty of. In his next fight August 18th against Breidis Prescott (25-4 20KO’s), he’s going to need a heavy dose of both. He’ll require the confidence while being in the ring with the forever pressuring Prescott, and the drive in his weeks of preparation leading up to the fight. Gato seemed overly excited about this training camp by saying, “It’s (camp) going great man, we’re definitely ready. We’re definitely there, just waiting for the damn date to get here”.
There have been a few changes to his training regimen. Not only is there added exercise routines but most importantly he’s working at a new gym and with a new trainer. “The camp is here (NYC) at Trinity Boxing on Wall Street. I’m training with my celeb trainer Hollywood Hino, who was on the contender show recently. So everything is looking up. He’s one of the top of the line trainers in the game so I had to go with him because that’s who I am, I’m a top fighter. I work very very hard and I need someone to push me so I went with him and it’s going great man,” Figueroa said.
Gato has hit a rough patch in his boxing career recently. After a 12 fight win streak that ran from March 05′ through November 08′, he lost 2 of his last 3 fights; including a 4th round KO loss to Randall Bailey which halted his win streak. A decision loss to Alex Perez and sandwiched between was a draw with Rashad Halloway. But he insisted the change at the top wasn’t due to his recent setbacks declaring, “I made the change because I need to push myself. I push myself hard at camp but now I get pushed to a different level training with Hollywood Hino. This guy is non-stop like me, he’s a go getter, and I’m a go getter. I wouldn’t want nobody else.”
Working with his new trainer is something that Gato spoke very highly about. He conveys the impression that newly implemented aspects to his training is what’s going to make the difference in getting back to his winning ways. “This is the hardest camp because what I also included was cross fit. So not only am I working hard with Hollywood Hino, but I’m also doing cross fit,” Gato said.
When asked what sets this camp apart from others he’s endured before Figueroa replied, “It’s basically more on hard work in the gym. We are working on technique of course, but we are working on cardio, we are working on core strength and snapping punches. What separates me from everybody else is the dedication, the hard work and smart work.”
That hard work consists of Gato starting his cross fit workouts at 7am every morning. He meets up with Hollywood Hino at the Trinity Boxing Club around 2pm for cardio, including vigorous plyometrics and ring work. The extra plyo’s are important because it helps him tighten up his footwork. “We are working on our angles, giving him a lot of angles, not just Prescott but a lot of fighters can’t handle angles and he’s one of them,” Gato implied.
Francisco is conscious of Prescott’s talents and knows that his boxing skill is going to have to be on full display as well as showing a great deal of toughness. “One thing I do know about Prescott is that he’s an attacker, like he’s done to Khan. That’s a no-no when it comes to me; no matter who you are in this boxing game do not attack me because I bring the f*cking heat. Prescott better know when mingling with Gato, that I am the one. Anybody who fights me is going to have a tough time, it ain’t no easy ball game,” Figueroa remarked.
Gato is well aware that a win against Prescott will place him back in the talks of being amongst the top junior welterweights in the world. “After a win it can go 2 routes. If I knock him out it will put me in contender status. If I KO him I should be in the top 5. Prescott has a powerful name, I have a good name and beating him in knockout fashion makes it a different ball game. If I beat him by decision I’ll be up there for one more fight then a title shot,” Francisco said.
Though a loss would definitely put his career in critical condition, he’s well prepared for life after boxing. The other talents that Gato possesses and his entrepreneurial spirit is something he’s going to look to shine some light on after August 18th. “After this fight here I want to go onto X-Factor, I’ve taught myself to sing. I want to be a self made millionaire. I have my company Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, that’s the name of the movement. It’s an athletic clothing line. I want to expand and be bought out by Nike or Adidas. I’ll become a self made millionaire and it’s time for me to show the world I’m good at what I do and everything I’ve done. I’m a boxer, I’m a singer, I’m a dancer, I’m a performer, I’m an actor, a model, I do it all man. God blessed me; I met God half way on everything I’ve done. God has grabbed my hand and now helped me to the goal line,” Figueroa stated.
He’s a man of many aspirations and goals. The word legacy is one that he mentioned quite a few times in our conversation. He’s accepted the responsibility of being the one to set his family up for the future. Gato emphatically expressed, “I want to create a legacy for my family. I’m not just living my life for me; I’m trying to turn around my family into bosses.”
Boxing has set the foundation for the clothing line and getting into the entertainment world. But before conquering his other passions, he has to conquer what he has in front of him in Prescott. He also has to wipe his slate clean and put his last 3 fights in his rear view. Mentally he’s in a good mind state. He believes he will defeat Prescott and look good in doing so. He’s a very objective critic of his own performance. Depending on his effectiveness, he has plans to further his boxing career win, lose, or draw. Gato declared, “If my performance sucks and I say Gato you really suck; then it’s time to give it up. Not even the Bailey fight shows that I suck. I came back 4 months later and I fought Halloway and in that fight I didn’t suck. Then I came back a year and a half later against Perez and that fight I didn’t even suck. So I’ll keep going until I say Gato you know what, you suck. But it hasn’t been that way, so I’ll continue.” As you see never at a loss of words or lacking expression.
Following him on twitter @Noonestopsgato is your opportunity to join the Can’t Stop Won’t Stop movement.