Fresh off of his homecoming victory in Stockton on May 4, lightweight Gabriel Flores Jr. returns to Reno on Saturday, June 8, at the Reno/Sparks Convention Center. Reno has been like a second home for Flores in his young career and coming back so quickly is a testament of his dedication to the the sport. Tommy and Terry Lane of Let’s Get It On Promotions are once again doing the leg work for the Top Rank/ESPN event, assembling an undercard sure to thrill the local fans. Carson City’s Diego Elizondo (2-0-1) will be on the card and former Nevada, Reno boxer JJ Mariano makes his pro debut.
VegasChamp Boxing’s Bill Nelson reports that Ricardo Lucio-Galvan (2-0) may be on the card as well if “a suitable opponent is found.” Lucio-Galvan, also a student at Nevada, has been out of action for nearly a year, and a hand injury forced him to pull out of a Las Vegas bout that was scheduled for April 25. Nelson is looking for a softer test for his first fight back than has been offered so far. Lucio-Galvan and Elizondo have battled twice as amateurs, with each winning once. Surely someday the rubber match seems destined to happen in the pros and hopefully in front of a wild hometown atmosphere. However, don’t expect that to be on June 8.
Canelo Alvarez and pound-for-pound debate
With Canelo Alvarez’s victory over Daniel Jacobs on May 4, the performance was not enough to secure his slot at the top of boxing’s mythical pound-for-pound list. Most within boxing circles thought that a dominant victory over Jacobs would secure Alvarez as the top fighter in boxing today. With a very talented list and with a surprising debate about who should have won, Alvarez remains in the discussion. But certainly it’s a an argument along with Errol Spence, Terence Crawford and Vasyl Lomachenko. Surprising to me is that many feel that Jacobs won the fight. I scored it 116-112 for Alvarez and thought he clearly put enough rounds in the bank to secure the decision. Jacobs did finish with the momentum the last few rounds, but math is math and his late-round rally just wasn’t enough.
Gabe Flores Jr. makes a hometown splash
It was quite a scene on May 4 at the Stockton Arena when local fighter and Top Rank promoted sensation Gabriel Flores Jr. scored a vicious second-round stoppage on ESPN over Brazil’s Eduardo Reis. Chills filled the air as memories of Flores’ mom, Juanita, were with the crowd and on the big stadium screen. Even a ringside seat was reserved for her.
The biggest display of Flores’ star power followed. He fought just before the main event, which was a light heavyweight title bout. I went backstage to interview Flores and when I came back to the arena to take my seat for the main event, the arena had turned into a ghost town. Most of the crowd had gone home after their local hero got his victory. Flores surely now makes the Stockton Arena a hot spot for future shows, much like how Andre Ward awakened the Oracle Arena as a boxing venue and like what Tony ‘The Tiger’ Lopez did to Sacramento’s Arco Arena back in the late ’80s/early ’90s. I covered the Stockton event instead of the Canelo Alvarez bout in Vegas. As much as I like Vegas, more three-hour drives to Stockton for boxing events will be welcomed.
Final 10 Count for Bert Cooper, Harold Lederman
Rest in Peace to former heavyweight title chalenger ‘Smokin’ Bert Cooper and HBO Boxing’s longtime official/unofficial scorer, Harold Lederman, who both passed away this month.
Cooper started his career at cruiserweight and was trained by ‘Smokin’ Joe Frazier. He moved up to heavyweight with mixed results, his greatest night in the ring was when he stepped in on six days notice to challenge Evander Holyfield for the heavyweight crown and nearly pulled of a huge upset hurting and knocking down the champ in Round 3, before running out of gas and being stopped in the seventh.. What I’ll remember most about Cooper is his triumph from drug addiction to achieve success through his career.
Lederman was a fixture for HBO Boxing and his daughter Julie is a boxing judge based out of New York. For Lederman, I’ll remember him for his smile. He was always a happy guy at boxing events and carried what seemed to be a permanent smile. In fact, I never saw him with an angry face.
— Simon Ruvalcaba