By: Hans Themistode
Gabriel Flores Jr. was a ballyhooed prospect. The kind that sees his name mentioned amongst the best and brightest young stars in the super featherweight division.
Heading into his showdown against journeymen Luis Alberto Lopez, Flores Jr. was given the opportunity to showcase his skills in front of a national audience at the Casino Del Sol, in Tucson, Arizona. But while the 21-year-old was expecting to put on a masterclass, the 28-year-old veteran turned in a career-best performance.
As the opening bell rang, Flores Jr. attempted to box and move. He flicked out a strong and consistent jab which snapped the head back of his man. Cautious early on, Lopez placed his hands up high and attempted to cover up as Flores Jr. continued to let his hands go with flashy combinations.
After finding his range, Lopez began picking up his offense. The Mexican native threw hard shots which left his man rattled on numerous occasions.
Realizing that the young prospect had nothing to offer in terms of power, the confidence of Lopez began to rise. As the second round came rolling by, Flores Jr. once again began boxing on the outside and attempted to stay away from the rough and rugged physical fight Lopez was employing on the night. Yet, no matter how elusive he proved to be, Lopez tracked him down and uncorked shots from every direction.
While Flores Jr. was taking punishment, he still managed to move around the ring effectively. That is, until the midway point of their contest. After spending the first five rounds attacking downstairs, Flores Jr. began feeling the effects. The 21-year-old 130-pound prospect began sagging his hands lower and lower in an attempt to guard his midsection. That, however, was exactly what Lopez was hoping for.
With a chance to attack upstairs, Lopez began tagging his man repeatedly. In the eighth round, in particular, Lopez pinned Flores Jr. against the ropes and hammered away with numerous right hands. At one point, the 21-year-old appeared on his way to hitting the canvas. He stumbled back into the ropes seemingly exhausted.
In one last effort to stay on his feet, Flores Jr. grabbed onto his man and wouldn’t let go until the sound of the bell. Once he made it through the round, Gabriel Flores Sr., his cornermen and father, implored his son to show him something or he would be forced to end the bout.
While Flores Jr. opened up the ninth round with a three-punch combination, that was the extent of his success in the round. Lopez bullied his much younger opponent across the ring and continued to push an absurd pace.
As Flores Jr. slumped onto his stool at the end of the round, Flores Sr. signaled to his son that he was putting an end to their contest. An irate Flores Jr. jumped out of his chair and forced his way back to the center of the ring before his father ultimately allowed him to continue.
In the end, Lopez made him pay. The Mexican product dominated the round and seemingly had his man out on his feet after a clean four-punch combination.
No longer wanting to watch his son endure that sort of punishment, Flores Sr. attempted to put an end to their contest with just a few seconds remaining in the round. However, referee Robert Velez never saw Flores Jr.’s cornermen standing on the ring apron waving his hands to end their contest.
Although he made it to the final bell, Flores Jr. knew his previously undefeated record would be taken from him in a matter of moments. Ultimately, the 21-year-old was right as all three judges scored the contest lopsidedly in favor of Lopez.
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