Do Not Go Gently
By Richard E. Baker on February 5, 2021
“He is a great fighter. He must remember how he got that way.” (Photo: Richard E. Baker)
“Chucky” (Moises Flores) stands in the middle of the ring, slightly bent at the waist. His wrapped hands clasp two weights. As he punches he walks over the signage on the canvas: Amigo’s Meat. Chucky ducks under ropes, shoulder high and stretched from corner to corner. He groans as the punches are thrown. The shadows he boxes are known only to him; demons perhaps or ghosts of past fights. His wife and two kids are at home in Guadalajara. He could have worked construction and stayed home. He chose to be a fighter.
Taking the fight game seriously means long separations from family. Chucky works in the old way, no women in camp, no distractions, long days and nights of solitude. Jogging at 7:00 am, sparring at 1:00 pm, conditioning late in the day or early in the evening. Once he was a champion and had beaten Mario Antonio Macias for the WBC FECARBOX super bantamweight title and Oscar Escandon and Luis Emanuel Cusolito and for the WBA Super World super bantamweight title, and Paulus Ambunda for the WBA and IBO super bantamweight title. Then came a no decision contest against Guillermo Rigondeaux followed by three loses. So, what happened?
Chucky happened. Like many fighters who reach the top he decided he knew everything. He started telling his trainers what to do rather listening to his trainers tell him what to do. He attempted to train the trainers rather than let the trainers train him. Perhaps because they did not want to lose their jobs, his trainers went along rather than buck up and remind him how he became champion. That starts the downhill slide. If a fighter is smart enough he might catch himself in time, might return to basics, might attempt the climb gain.
His first loss after Rigondeaux came against Daniel Roman (24-2-1), a unanimous decision. Although a championship fight, Flores could not have taken the title because he made the unprofessional mistake of coming in too heavy. Any boxer who cannot come in on weight, especially for a championship fight, has lost his desire. That was proven in his next fight, a 3rd round KO loss against Brandon Figueroa (17-0-0.) Flores attempted to redeem himself in the following fight against Leonardo Baez (17-2-0.) He had fought a bit better and managed a unanimous decision loss, better than a KO loss.
Chucky is smart enough and claims he has learned his lesson. With enough work there might still be a few good fights in him, maybe even another championship fight, and even another championship. He has always been an in-your-face kind of fighter, a non-stop banger exciting to watch. He will exhaust an opponent by walking him down. He hits hard, very hard and very often.
He walks to the corner of the ring and asks for water. He drinks briefly, lets the coolness stay in his mouth for a moment.
Javier Flores Valerio is training him today. Javier, from Jalisco, Mexico, is a new trainer, just learning the game. He readies Chucky’s gloves. Gloves are an extension of Chucky’s determination. Although just 122 pounds he hits like a welterweight.
They say a punch is the last thing to go on an older fighter. Chucky hopes so. He is in the best shape a man of 33 can get. Like a thief the years sneak away a man’s conditioning while he is sleeping. When he awakes he comes to the frightening realization he can only do one less of his usual pushups, 200 yards less on the track, can only throw no more than two fewer punches per round, and starts to get tired in a round that was once his best.
Flores has decided to finish his training back home. Javier has gotten him into top shape but worries about him getting soft when he goes home. “He is a great fighter,” says Javier. “He must remember how he got that way.”
His next fight is February 26 in Cancun, Mexico. If he continues to listen to his trainers he should be back on track. Time waits for no man. One thing is certain—Chucky will not go gently into that good night.