KO, or Not KO, that is the question

By Richard E. Baker on October 12, 2020

Everyone but Flores felt he was finished as a quality contender. (Photo: Richard E. Baker)

Until he fought Guillermo Rigondeaux in a controversial no decision bout for the WBA super bantamweight title in 2017, Moises Flores (25-3-0) had been undefeated and the number one WBA contender in the division. In the televised bout, Rigondeaux landed a clean left after the bell of the first round to KO Flores. Referee Vic Drakulich, one of the top referees in the business, did not hear the bell and, after checking with ringside officials, called the fight a win by KO for Rigondeaux. Later, after farther reviews of the television clips revealed the punch was thrown after the bell, the commission changed the decision to a no contest. Neither side protested the decision although many fans were outraged, some thinking Rigondeaux had been robbed of the KO win, others thinking Flores had been equally robbed of a win by disqualification. 

 

That no contest bout was followed by three more losses for Flores. Daniel Roman (24-2-1) won by unanimous decision at the Ford Center; Brandon Figueroa (17-0-0) put him away at the Microsoft Theater; and Leonardo Baez (17-2-0) pulled off a unanimous win in February at Fantasy Springs Casino. Everyone felt Flores was finished as a quality contender, everyone except Flores.

 

Flores admits to having trouble training and disputes with his management team. He is the kind of boxer who needs prodding to keep him in the gym. He will train hard if pushed. At the age of 33, he knows he is on the downside, but feels he can still be a top contender. What he needed was a new management team and better training—what he needed was to become part of the Benavidez team.

 

Today he looks nothing like a shot fighter. Under the training of Jose Benavidez, he shows up at the gym ready to work. He hits hard, very hard. The body shots he throws against Benavidez’s protector knocks Benavidez around the room like a drunken ballerina, a tough drunken ballerina. In the fight with Rigondeaux he was the aggressor. He still has that aggression and expects to put it into action soon.

 

Flores has beaten some rugged contenders during his rise, contenders like Paulus Ambunda (24-1-0), Luis Emanuel Cusolito (21-1-0), and Oscar Escandon (24-1-0), all for the intern WBA super bantamweight title. He also beat Mario Antonio Macias (26-13-0) for the Gearbox super bantamweight title. In 2013 he knocked out iron-fisted Rodolfo Hernandez Montoya (24-3-1) in a fight that had the crowd on its feet.

 

Flores feels he has another two years left as a top contender. Of course, he is looking for another title fight, a chance to earn some real money. He only received $25,000 to fight Rigondeaux, not much for a title fight. Rigondeaux received $150,000, not much for a champion, either. Rigondeaux, because of his slickness, does not demand big purses. He appeals to a select type of fan, one who understands the finesse and subtleness of boxing. It is often the rough bangers that bring in the big bucks. 

 

Many shot fighters say they can make a comeback, that they have been reborn and renewed. Flores is hardly a shot fighter. He is more a throwback fighter, one who has had success sprinkled with losses. People tend to forget that even a world champion, like Joey Maxim, had 29 loses. That was fairly common in the days of men.

 

If he continues to work at his current rate, expect to see him in some important fights, maybe even another championship. Because of his losses, top fighters might mistake his recent lapse in enthusiasm for incompetence. They are in for a surprise.