Entertaining and energetic both inside and out of the ring, Francisco “El Gato” Figueroa (20-5-1 13KO’s) of the Bronx,NY gives it another shot to end up on the top when he faces the once beaten Thomas Dulorme (18-1 13KO’s) August 17th in Atlantic City, NJ. Figueroa has experienced the ups and downs of boxing, and has used his underdog demeanor to pick him up when everyone thought he was down. Now 35 years old, “El Gato” is revving up again, constantly in shape as he awaits his next challenge, he understands his position and his goal in the fight. Picking up the sport at a relatively late 22 years old, Figueroa looks to show what he learned in the street and the ring against the favorite Dulorme, because he can’t stop, and he won’t stop, because “No One Stops Gato”.
We took some time to visit Francisco “El Gato” Figueroa during his second workout of the day just after sparring the popular Eddie “E-Boy” Gomez at Juan LaPorte Boxing Club in the Bronx and “El Gato” was happy to answer questions about his upcoming bout.
TBV: First, give me your thoughts on your opponent, Thomas Dulorme; and about the fight overall?
FF: “I don’t know much about him, I know he’s Puerto Rican…well he’s Dominican living in Puerto Rico, and I know the Puerto Rican style is fighting. They don’t move when they punch, so I know he’s going to be looking for me, but you have to catch ‘El Gato’, and that’s what he’s going to try to do but he won’t know how to do it because I’m going to be all over the place. I’m a mover he’s a Dominican living in Puerto Rico and I’m a Nuyorican, you know we’re real flashy and move like Camacho; may he rest in peace and god bless him and his family. I’m the new Camacho maybe not mouth wise but I definitely have the charm, the style, and out of my mouth comes the truth. Living with god 24/7.”
TBV: How are you going to prepare for your opponent? Who are you using for sparring?
FF: “Right now we got Eddie Gomez from the Bronx who’s a highly touted light middleweight, we just sparred today and he has a fight coming up on August 19th against Steve Chambers that I’ll be watching as well. But we don’t need to watch anybody because my style is called boxing, so they’re fighting me I’m not fighting them, I’m going to bring him to me and his trainer won’t know what to do, he’s going to be asking his assistant trainer for help because they won’t know how to stop this boxer, not a fighter.”
TBV: Looking at the landscape of Puerto Rican boxing and seeing so many guys not reach their potential, what do you think is the biggest mistake being made over there?
FF: “Same style! I think they all have the same style, the kids don’t have motivation. I don’t even want to know, I try not to think about those guys, I’m focused on my career. I’m Nuyorican, I come with flash, with different types of angles, and I know Puerto Ricans on the island are different than Nuyoricans like Camacho. But I don’t know with the style in Puerto Rico… I don’t think the drive is still there, I don’t know what the Ricans are doing back home but I know what I’m doing here, I’m trying to represent all of the Boricuas…I’m trying to represent my culture.”
TBV: At age 35 what keeps you motivated to still get in the ring and take on these younger guys?
FF: “I’m a go getter since I was a kid, everything I have done in my career, wrestling, boxing, I always started late. I was a late bloomer, I may be 35 but I look like I’m 26 or 28. I’m about self-motivation, I’m about competition, people talking crap, I like to shut people’s mouths, I represent can’t stop won’t stop to the fullest, that’s who I am the CEO of ‘Can’t Stop Won’t Stop’, and that’s just what I’m about.”
TBV: What is the reason for the recent inactivity in your career?
FF: “Promoters is one of them, most definitely they can hold you back, they feel they’re the bosses or the slave masters and that boxing Is a business. What contributed to my career is just inactivity, I’ve been trying to call people out but most of the guys in boxing are built up, meaning match making with selections to win. In my case I’ve held my own with opponents and lost or won but my point is I’ve faced high risk opponents and I don’t care, boxing is business so just put me in there with whoever at 140lbs lets make it happ’n capt’n.”
TBV: Who makes up your team, promoter, trainer, manager?
FF: “As of right now I have Gus Morgan, he’s my head coach. He’s not my trainer; he’s going to be guiding me and mapping out strategic plans for my fight. And me myself as a personal trainer, I don’t need anyone to motivate ‘Mr. Can’t Stop Won’t Stop’, I will run 15,000 miles before a trainer would even know, I go above and beyond any boxer in this game, I know what it takes. The other person I have is my freelance manager Steve Hyde, my boy who definitely looks out for me and got me this fight with Thomas Dulorme, he pushed buttons and pushed hard and I’m very proud to have guys like that on my team who are team players.”
TBV: On twitter you’re pretty big on praising god while others in the industry flaunt off women and money, what is it about your faith that molds you?
FF: “I believe in god 100%, I listen to him only and I trust no humans…because everyone has opinions out the wazoo and god only has one straight fact so when I visualize or hear god tell me something I listen to him way more than any man/woman on this planet. God is the answer, God has taught me a lot in life and through boxing, being a better husband, a better role model, father, big brother to other boxers, I respect everyone and only tell the truth. I could care less if it bothers you or not, I respect all of mankind.”
TBV: What would you say to the handlers of Dulorme? Do you think they’re making a huge mistake taking a chance by fighting you?
FF: “Yea, they looked at my YouTube videos, and I’m big on marketing I know the YouTube videos are supposed to show who I am but ever since I’ve found God I’ve listened and I have changed my style. No, God isn’t going to guarantee that I win this fight, but he’s going to protect me for safety reasons, protect both myself and the other guy from injuries.”
TBV: Anything you’d like to say your fans and supporters?
FF: “I would like to thank my supporters I wouldn’t say my fans, I support my supporters back like I would anyone in the street. The supporters online you can look me up on Facebook or on Twitter , I’m ‘twitter hip’ and I usually always answer back to my supporters so you can follow me at @NoOneStopsGato and I’m just here to take a different channel in my life. I’m a late bloomer and I’m going to show the world now that No One Stops Gato.”