Stockton phenom notches 13th victory
By Bill Tibbs
A new star emerged Saturday night in Stockton, California – Gabriel Flores Jr. Well, in reality he was already pretty popular in his hometown but with his ‘plays-of-the-week’ KO on ESPN Saturday night he certainly added some shine to his fast rising profile.
In the main event, Artur Beterbiev (14-0, 14 KO’s) made it a perfect 14 for 14 when he defended his IBF light heavyweight title with a TKO 5 against Radivoje Kalajdzic (24-2, 17 KO’s) at the Stockton Arena.
On the undercard, IBF super flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-2, 21 KO’s) looked very good in stopping Japan’s Ryuichi Funai (31-8, 22 KO’s) with a non-stop assault of head and body shots before the fight was stopped after seven rounds.
But the real star of Saturday night’s festivities was Stockton’s teenage phenom Gabriel Flores Jr. (13-0, 6 KO’s) who delivered a highlight reel knockout of Eduardo Pereira Reis (23-6, 19 KO’s) at 1:14 of round 3. The 10,000+ in attendance were screaming for their hometown hero from the get-go and Flores didn’t disappoint.
This was Flores’ 4th fight in California but it was the first one in his hometown of Stockton. There had been a lot of hype and attention surrounding his hometown debut throughout the week, including being given the key to the city, but the teenage lightweight handled it without any problem. No one knows how to build a regional star like Top Rank boss Bob Arum, who handles Flores, so don’t be surprised to see ESPN and Top Rank returning to California’s Central Valley for another Flores gig before too long.
Flores has gone a perfect 13-0 since turning pro in the spring of 2017. While there is no need to rush Flores, still in his teens, it was impressive to say the least watching him dismantle, and stop, the much more experienced Reis who came into the fight with 28-fights under his belt. And, Flores, who had gone the distance in his last 6 fights, was thrilled to get the KO in front of his friends and family.
After the fight Flores, who keeps a picture of his late mother ringside when he fights, was clearly excited with his hometown debut and is obviously anxious to fight there again.
“I saw he wasn’t going to be able to follow me around the ring all night,” he said. “Once I seen he tried to follow me, left hook, boom, lights out. I’m the people’s champion. When I got the city on my back, can’t nobody touch me,” said Flores. “I felt faster and stronger all night. I felt like this was a world title for me tonight. This was probably my best performance so far, I was very comfortable out there”, continued Flores. “I’m comfortable everywhere but I was really comfortable tonight, this is my hometown. I’m getting better each fight. I’d like to fight again within a month or two. We’ll fight here again, not in my next fight, but we’ll definitely be back”, said Flores, “I’m the king of Stockton”.