Every once in a while, a young fighter comes up the amateur ranks possessing above-average talent and all of the tools to become something special.
NYF believes Gabriel Flores Jr. (16-0), who signed his promotional deal with Top Rank at the young age of sixteen but couldn't debut until his seventeenth birthday, fits that description.
Top Rank, which boasts some of the best talent evaluators in the game, knew that they had to do everything they could to ensure Flores Jr. fought under their banner.
February 2018 was the first time that I saw Flores Jr. fight and when he beat Alex Solorio by TKO (see below), something about how he dictated space and threw punches from the right range for a guy that was so young, stood out for me and immediately lodged on my radar.
By way of his smart and aggressive manager Rick Mirigian, Flores Jr. has been marketed and promoted as a future star in his home of Stockton, CA, which has given Top Rank a certain level of comfortability to place Flores Jr. on major fight cards that they’ve put together in the past year and a half.
This year is already looking bright for the young Flores Jr. and with his placement on the first major event of the year, he is looking to continue to show the world why he “has next.”
I checked in with Gabriel Flores Jr. while he prepares for his next fight within the next couple of weeks.
AG: It’s a new year and most would assume that Team “G-Squad” is ready to kick it up a notch. When can we expect you back in action?
GF: My next fight is February 22nd at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on the undercard of Fury vs. Wilder II. We are definitely going to kick it up a notch as we will show up and show out.
AG: Who is your next opponent and what can you tell us about him?
GF: My next opponent is Matt Conway (17-1) from Philly. We have been preparing for him and have been studying his style. We see what he likes to do and there isn’t much else to him.
AG: So now that we know you are currently in training camp, is there anything different you are doing this time around whether it’s physical training, tactics or both?
GF: A lot more sparring. Getting more rounds in and coming in better shape.
AG: What are your realistic expectations in regards to how many times you hope to fight this year?
GF: I would like to fight five times before the end of the year. I don’t really get damaged like that after fights and I like to stay real active.
AG: You have a record of 16-0 which saw you fight eleven times in the last two years. Do you see yourself going for a regional title this year and maybe a world title next year?
GF: Yes, that right there sounds real good! That seems like a good plan. I really want to see how things go this year as it can come really fast or can be further down the road. I just have to take it fight by fight.
AG: When Top Rank shows you that they have a ton of confidence in your abilities by placing you on these big shows, how does that make you feel and does it get a little nerve racking?
GF: It makes me feel good as I deserve my spot. Everyone works for their spot as nothing is given. It isn’t at all nerve racking as I know this is where I’m supposed to be and I have been having this vision ever since I was a kid. The time has come for me and I am ready for it.
AG: The sports world recently lost one of the most iconic basketball players of all time and future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant. You recently posted on Instagram a photo of the gloves you’ll be using come fight night in February, which feature the Laker colors in support of not only Kobe but also his daughters who are left without their father.
It has been well documented throughout boxing media that your mother suffered a tragic death in 2013. How were your first two or three years dealing with your mother’s passing and how did it effect you personally on a day to day basis?
GF: It was very difficult because you see someone on a daily basis and don’t ever imagine it being any different. It’s a change that was very hard to deal with but I used it as motivation and towards positive things like boxing. Within two months of my mother passing away, I went to Colorado and won a boxing tournament over there. I was hurting but I knew that by me pushing forward and winning, it was making her happy. I don’t know how long it took me to look at it this way but I finally realized that I was blessed to have her for those first twelve years of my life. I could have gotten less time with her so I am blessed to have the time that I did.
AG: If the daughters of Kobe Bryant were to read this article, what would you say to them as you can relate in a way to what they are going through right now as you lost your mother seven years ago?
GF: I know they went to church a lot so I would say praying really does help as it makes me feel better. I feel as though it makes me feel closer when I do things like that. Kobe will never die as he is a legend. For me, I always come out with my mom on my shirt and I am never going to let her name die so I would say for them to carry on Kobe’s name and legacy. I still try to carry on her name till this day.
AG: For the fans that have never seen you fight, what can they expect to see on February 22nd?
GF: Speed, ring intelligence and a very exciting fighter. I don’t shy away from anything. I love a real fast paced fight and I hit and don’t get hit.
AG: For fans that are just finding out about you and want to follow your journey, where can they see your material on social media? Also, where can they find your merchandise if they choose to support your career?
AG: Gabriel Flores Jr. is one of those young exciting fighters that you can’t help but to tune in when he is fighting. If I had to guess, this year, Flores Jr. is going to “level up” in regards to his overall boxing skills and competition which will lead to a regional title shot by the end of 2020. With the world titles possibly being vacated at the end of the year, 2021 can very well be the year “G-Squad” gets his opportunity at accomplishing what he has worked so hard for and that is a world title.