The first set of fights last week saw Mikaela Mayer pulled from her fight from a positive test, and Thursday’s main event–originally scheduled as Jose Pedraza vs. Mikkel LesPierre–was scrapped due to a positive test result from the camp of LesPierre.
However, the show went on, with blue-chip prospect Gabriel Flores Jr. (18-0, 6 KOs) vs. Josec Ruiz (21-3-3, 14 KOs) ascending from the co-main event into the main event slot. Flores has been an ascending star in the Top Rank stable, showing flashes of great potential over the past few years, having already notched 17 career wins at the age of 20 heading into Thursday’s fight.
Ruiz represented a step-up in competition for Flores. Flores came out in the first round looking comfortable and controlled with his speed on full display early on.
In the second round, Flores landed what has become his favorite and likely best punch in the left hook. The shot stopped Ruiz in his tracks and Flores followed it up with a straight right that sent him to the canvas.
It looked as if Flores was going to be able to finish the fight right there, but to Ruiz’s credit, he fought to the end of the round. The third round was controlled by Flores as well, but Ruiz had completely recovered from the knockdown by the time the round ended.
The Stockton, California native continued to display his skill in the fourth round, mixing slick combinations and impressive defense, highlighted by a combination thrown by Ruiz he completely evaded utilizing his head movement at approximately the midway mark of the round. Ruiz, however, did land a strong overhand right during the round in what was his best punch to that point of the fight.
In the fifth round, Flores landed another strong left hook, but Ruiz ate most of the shots in stride following the knockdown he suffered in the second. His stability in absorbing Flores’ offense was relatively surprising based on how hurt he looked by the shots that floored him.
By the sixth round, Flores Jr.’s trainer and father, Gabriel Flores Sr., was calling for body shots and more activity. It was clear that they were aiming for a stoppage victory. Flores was able to land some other effective shots to control the round, but certainly had a diminished output in terms of combination punching.
The last few rounds of the fight found Flores in clear control of the action, boxing at the same pace he had all night, while banking rounds. However, many viewers and members of the ESPN broadcast thought that Flores could have stepped up the pace in attempts to finish the fight.
It was also clear the Flores Sr. wanted his son to step up the pace and go for a knockout as well.
Regardless, Flores fought an otherwise perfect fight in which he didn’t lose a round on any of the judges’ scorecards–the officials saw it 100-89 across the board.
Once again, he displayed his skill and potential in a bout he completely controlled and essentially doubled his opponents offense. Flores Jr.’s stock will remain high following this performance, and it will be interesting to see who he is matched with next.