Gabriel Flores Jr. makes a punishing statement against Jayson Velez
It appeared to take longer than it did. But Gabriel Flores Jr.’s right hand that ponged off the top of Jayson Velez’ head had a telling effect. Velez had a delayed stumble, then finally fell. He got up at six, before Velez fell again with a striking left hook in the sixth round Saturday night on the Miguel Berchelt-Oscar Valdez undercard from the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
Flores (20-0, 7 knockouts) wanted to make a statement and he did. Velez (29-8-1, 21 KOs) was supposed to be the 20-year-old Flores’ biggest test.
Flores stopped Velez at 1:47 of the sixth round in what was a scheduled 10-round junior lightweight bout.
“I sent a statement that I’m ready for a world title,” Flores said. “I hit him, and he didn’t see the punch coming. That’s why he was so hurt. I could’ve done it earlier. I was playing with my food. [Trainer Gabriel Flores Sr.] told me I just gotta press it. Nothing was really going on those first five rounds, to be honest. I was just feeling him out.
“I would love to get the winner of Jamel Herring and Carl Frampton. I’d love that. I’m going to keep on working, and my performances are going to get better and better.”
On the off-TV undercard, junior welterweight Omar Rosario (3-0, 1 KO) stopped Uriel Villanueva (1-1) at 2:38 of the second round. Rosario scored a pair of knockdowns in the second round. Middleweight Javier Martinez (3-0, 1 KO) scored the first stoppage of his career with a first-round TKO at 1:51 over Billy Wagner (3-2, 1 KO).
Rising teenage welterweight Xander Zayas (7-0, 5 KOs) dominated James Martin (6-2, 0 KOs) by unanimous scores of 60-54 in a six-round victory.
“I’m going to go back to the drawing board,” Zayas said. “I did some things well in there, but I still have a lot of room for improvement. The rounds will serve me well as I continue to develop.
“As a young fighter, you need these types of fights. I haven’t been out of the first round in nearly a year, so for me to get six rounds in, that was important.”
Rising young junior welterweight prospect Elvis Rodriguez (11-0-1, 10 KOs) went eight rounds for the first time in his career and had an easy time with a unanimous decision over Luis Alberto Veron (18-3-2, 9 KOs).
“This was my first scheduled eight-round fight, and I actually think I got a lot of good experience,” Rodriguez said. “Each fight, you acquire something different, and for this fight, I think the experience of going the rounds actually helped me out.
“It’s a great experience going the full eight rounds. It’s back to the gym to work on several things, specifically I know I needed to let my hands go a little more. When I did do that, I was able to hurt him. But in the end, I think it was a great experience. He’s a natural welterweight. He’s never been stopped, so I knew it would be a tough challenge, but you know I will go back to the gym and work harder to continue to grow in this sport.”
Brazilian 2012 Olympic silver medalist Esquiva Falcao (28-0, 20 KOs) remained undefeated with a four-round stoppage over Artur Akavov (20-4, 9 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round middleweight bout. The corner of Akavov, a former two-time middleweight title challenger, stopped the fight at the conclusion of the fourth.
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito.