Wednesday, October 04, 2023  |


Manuel Flores to step up versus Walter Santibanes, Thursday night

Manuel Flores. Photo by Golden Boy Promotions
Fighters Network

Manuel Flores is slowly developing from prospect to contender.

The unbeaten junior featherweight could make a big statement, Thursday night, as he faces Walter Santibanes at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California. The 10-round bout will headline a “Golden Boy Fight Night” card that will stream live on DAZN, beginning at 9 pm ET/ 6 pm PT.

At Wednesday’s weigh-in, Flores weighed in at 119.6 pounds. Santibanes weighed 118.8 pounds.

Flores (15-0, 11 knockouts) has built an unbeaten record facing modest opposition over the last couple of years. Flores took a step up in opposition in his most recent bout, on February 23, defeating once-beaten Franklin Gonzalez, of Venezuela, by split decision. The win over Gonzalez snapped a string of six consecutive stoppage victories.

The 24-year-old has built a following in the area, as he resides in nearby Coachella. The February 23 card on which Flores fought also took place at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, in front of a sold-out crowd.

Manuel Flores (left) exchanges with Daniel Moncada. Photo by Cris Esqueda/Golden Boy Promotions

Manuel Flores (left) exchanges with Daniel Moncada. Photo by Cris Esqueda/Golden Boy Promotions

Eric Gomez, president of Golden Boy Promotions, believes Flores is a star in the making and his development could lead to a big fight, as long as Flores continues winning.

“[Flores] is a very popular fighter,” Gomez told The Ring in a recent interview. “This is his hometown. People get really excited when he comes out [to fight]. He sold out his last show. We’re very excited to have him back.

“He’s getting better and better each time out. His timing is getting better, his distance control, the combinations. He’s letting his hands go more. He’s developing nicely. I think sometime next year, he should have some sort of important fight against a top-10 fighter.”

Santibanes (11-2, 2 KOs), who resides in Phoenix, Arizona, is on a roll of his own. In his last 10 fights, Santibanes has won nine, with the other fight being a no-contest against Benjamin Gomez on November 18.

In his most recent bout, on December 16, Santibanes defeated once-beaten featherweight prospect Michael Chaise Nelson by majority decision.

In the co-feature, Jelena Mrdjenovich will square off against Colombia’s Calista Silgado in a 10-round featherweight bout.

Mrdjenovich and Silgado weighed in at 125.4 and 122.8 pounds, respectively.

The 40-year-old Mrdjenovich (41-12-2, 19 KOs), who resides in Edmonton, Canada, suffered back-to-back losses against Erika Cruz, the most recent fight of which took place on September 3. Mrdjenovich lost the WBA featherweight title in the first fight in April 2021.

Mrdjenovich is currently ranked No. 3 by The Ring in the women’s rankings.

Silgado (21-16-4, 16 KOs) fought to a draw in her last fight against Kalliopi Kourouni on December 11.

The 35-year-old recently challenged then-WBA junior lightweight titleholder Hyun Mi Choi in December 2020, losing by unanimous decision. Silgado also has recent losses to Melissa Oddessa Parker, Maureen Shea, Melissa St. Vil and Heather Hardy.

Junior lightweight prospect Daniel Garcia, of Denver, Colorado, will face Mexico’s Luis May (22-16-1, 8 KOs) in a six-round bout. Garcia (5-0, 4 KOs) is managed by Joel De La Hoya.

Opening the DAZN stream is a four-round junior lightweight bout between Gael Cabrera, of Sonora, Mexico, and Tijuana’s Ulises Rosales (0-6). The 18-year-old Cabrera, an amateur standout, will be making his pro debut.



Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also follow Francisco on Twitter @FSalazarBoxing.