Lightweight prospect Gabriel Flores Jr kept his unbeaten record tonight in Las Vegas, but wasn’t entirely happy with his own performance despite shutting out Josec Ruiz over 10 rounds on ESPN.
Flores (18-0, 6 KO) dropped Ruiz (21-3-3, 14 KO) in the second round, but didn’t finish there, and never really went for a finish the rest of the way.
But he did sweep the cards, and rightly so, winning 100-89 on all three judges’ sheets.
The 20-year-old Flores blamed a back injury suffered in his last sparring session for what he felt was a somewhat lackluster showing.
“I did great for the condition I’m in. I had to stay focused and know that I had to hit and not get hit,” Flores said after the fight.
“My lower back is hurt severely. I threw probably 50 percent of the punches I could have tonight. I wasn’t tired at all, but every time I threw punch, or moved at an angle, slipped, ducked, my lower back felt it. I felt good coming in, but that second round he hit me in my back — it was accidental, but that took a lot out of my back.
“Tonight was a night to show everyone who Gabriel Flores was, and I didn’t get to show 50 percent of me. I wanted to do more, but my body didn’t allow me to.”
Flores remains a prospect Top Rank are very excited about, though, and Mark Kriegel mentioned on the broadcast that his team would perhaps like to get in the ring with Felix Verdejo soon.
Verdejo (26-1, 16 KO) is a Puerto Rican who was once thought to be the next in the line of superstars from the island, but hasn’t really panned out as a pro. That said, the 27-year-old former Olympian would be a really big step up for Flores, and that’s a potentially interesting fight if the idea gains any traction.
Clay Collard SD-6 David Kaminsky
We said all week this was really the fight to keep an eye on for this card, and it turned out to be exactly that, an all-action, spirited fight between a 19-year-old prospect in Kaminsky and a rugged veteran in Collard.
“How do you train for someone like Collard?!” Tim Bradley asked on commentary during the fourth round of this fight. Well, if you’re a teenage prospect, it appears you can’t, really.
Call me insane or whatever, but if I were a manager/promoter for a teenage prospect who has largely been coddled and hyped up in the gyms and has a lot of young ego — I’m not saying they haven’t worked hard/sacrificed/all that stuff — I don’t think I’d let my guy fight Clay Collard. Collard is totally fearless, and this is the second time in fourth months he’s battered a 19-year-old who came in unbeaten with some hype.
Scores here were 58-56 across the board, two for Collard and one for Kaminsky. The Kaminsky card from Patricia Morse Jarman is terrible. BLH had it 59-55 for Collard, which is also how ESPN’s Andre Ward saw it.
Collard (7-2-3, 2 KO) did about this same thing to Raymond Guajardo, also 19 at the time, on a PBC card on Feb. 1 in Mississippi. He stopped Guajardo in two and both were on the canvas in the first round. Here, he just out-worked and beat up on Kaminsky (6-1, 3 KO), an Israeli prospect who took a serious amount of punishment here and was taken to a local hospital for a “precautionary” CT scan.
Collard is 27 years old, not much on his boxing technique at the pro level, but he’s relentless and fearless and tough as hell. The fearlessness goes beyond just not being afraid to take punches, too; he’s fought in the UFC before, he’s been on big stages, he’s won and lost on big stages, he’s got no trepidation when it comes to “the moment” or “the bright lights.”
Clay Collard isn’t going to become a top-tier boxing contender, but he is a nightmare for young prospects. So yeah, if I were a manager/promoter, I don’t let a raw kid get near this guy. As a fan, though, I’m happy to see him against those young bucks — he is a legitimate gatekeeper, in that sometimes he is going to hold the gate.
“The key to victory is just keep pushing, will the win. Get after him, stay after him, don’t show him that you’re hurt or tired, just will that win,” Collard said after the fight. “You’re gonna take shots, you’re gonna get hurt. If you show that you’re hurt, they’re gonna jump on you. We’re fighting lions in here. If they smell blood, they’re going for the kill. I try my best not to show I’m hurt. It’s hard sometimes, but I just push through.”
Robert Rodriguez TKO-2 Adrian Servin
A matchup of unbeaten young fighters, but Rodriguez (8-0-1, 4 KO) is a legitimate bantamweight, and Servin (9-1-1, 3 KO) is really a flyweight, and that showed here. Servin’s the taller guy, but Rodriguez with a much more compact, powerful sort of build. The 20-year-old Rodriguez, a San Antonio native, dropped Servin, 23 and from Phoenix, in the second round, and the fight was stopped at 2:48 of the same frame with Rodriguez landing too many blows for referee Robert Hoyle’s liking. You could argue the stoppage was early, but it wasn’t looking good for Servin at all.
Frevian Gonzalez UD-4 Jose Martinez
Gonzalez (3-0, 1 KO) is part of Jose Pedraza’s team, a 19-year-old Puerto Rican junior lightweight who turned pro last August. This was his first fight outside of Puerto Rico. He got the better of Martinez (2-1, 1 KO), a 21-year-old from Los Angeles, winning on scores of 39-37, 39-37, and 40-36. Wasn’t a ton to the fight, honestly.
Victor Rodriguez UD-4 Justin Horsley
Rodriguez (3-0, 1 KO) is a 19-year-old from California, turned pro in December. He won easily here, 40-36 across the board. Horsley (0-2) has a big fashion mullet.