Heavily-pushed Top Rank junior lightweight prospect Gabriel Flores Jr took a beating tonight, losing a clear and wide 10-round decision to underdog Luis Alberto Lopez in the Valdez-Conceicao co-feature in Arizona.
Let’s not dance around it here, let’s cut this fight down to a few key things:
- As Tim Bradley put it repeatedly on commentary down the stretch, this wound up being a man fighting a boy.
- Flores’ corner or the referee really should have stopped this fight at some point in the final two rounds.
- Flores took the sort of beating that makes you wonder if he can really come back from this, how far his stock has dropped.
Scores here were 98-92, 100-90, and 100-90. Bad Left Hook had it 98-91 (Wil Esco) and 99-91 (myself), also both for Lopez (23-2, 12 KO), who just dominated the fight and barely seemed to break a sweat, battering Flores (20-1, 7 KO) and just never letting the 21-year-old prospect find a rhythm.
Two appearances in the TR ring since last summer, two upsets scored for Luis Alberto Lopez, who this time hands Gabe Flores Jr. the first defeat of his young pro career via Unanimous Decision.#ValdezConceicao | LIVE on ESPN+ pic.twitter.com/dOEOSlxFnK— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) September 11, 2021
It was also an emotional fight to watch, particularly in those final two rounds, because it was clear that Flores was beaten and had nothing left. His father and trainer, Gabriel Flores Sr, did want to stop it after the ninth, but the son talked the father into continuing, and then when Flores Sr looked to stop it with about 12 seconds left in the fight, the referee didn’t hear them, so it went to the cards.
Flores was never quite the all-world blue chipper Top Rank sold, but definitely a good prospect. On paper, for how they’ve pushed him, Lopez was the right sort of opponent. But Lopez is also always dangerous. We saw this when he upset Andy Vences in July 2020, and we even saw what kind of awkward, incredibly weird fighter he can be in a ShoBox loss to Ruben Villa in 2019. He’s got strange rhythms, doesn’t box with a “normal” style at all, an extremely unorthodox guy.
And he used all of that to dominate this fight.
“I really was expecting the fight to be stopped,” Lopez told Mark Kriegel. “I was looking at the referee or even his dad, but I couldn’t stop fighting. I just kept going and they didn’t stop the fight.”
Flores minced no words when speaking with Kriegel after the fight.
“He’s a 126 pounder and he fought me at 130. And I was talking all that shit and I meant it, and I knew what I was saying was true. But I just couldn’t pull it off tonight,” Flores said. “This man should be fighting for a world title if he wants to at 126, because he fought at 130 as a true 126 pounder, and he fuckin’ embarrassed me. I wasn’t hurt. He was fucking my body up, but I wasn’t hurt. I’m very disappointed in myself. No excuses. Nobody wants to know what happened, they just want to you know if you won or you lost. I lost.”
While Gabriel Sr avoided going in to deep with questions from Kriegel, the father was again interrupted by the son, who wanted to take the blame for the defeat.
“This was 100 percent my fault,” Gabriel Jr said. “My pops told me everything and I disregarded it. I wasn’t able to go out there and do the plan.”
Flores Sr did say that he felt his son was more exhausted than truly hurt, but it was also clear in the ninth round that he knew his son was hurt. It is worth saying that it’s extremely hot in Tucson tonight and they’re fighting outdoors, but Lopez was fighting in the same weather. Flores Sr said the weight cut was tough and that Jr just wasn’t himself tonight.
We’ll see what happens going forward with Flores, but for Lopez, this is a big win, another big win, and he’s made himself a dangerous guy to mess with at 126/130.