Just 18 years old – and a graduate last summer in the Class of 2018 at Cesar Chavez High School in Stockton, California – Gabriel is a one-year pro. A sensational prospect at 130 pounds, he was an amateur standout and a member of the U.S. Junior National Team in 2015 and 2016 before his debut.
He signed a promotional contract with Top Rank when he was just 16 in November, 2016, but was not allowed to fight in the United States before he turned 17 on May 1, 2017. He made his debut four days after his 17th birthday and fought nine times in his first 14 months as a pro. California’s minimum age for a boxer is 18, and Gabriel’s first eight fights were all in Nevada and Texas. He fought in his home state for the first time in July.
Gabriel stayed active with 11 fights in his first 19 months as a pro. He has had five fights scheduled for six rounds and gone the full six-round distance four times.
In his last fight on December 14 in Corpus Christi, Texas, he won a six-round unanimous decision against Edward Kakembo. The bout was on the undercard of the Gilberto Ramirez vs Jesse Hart rematch main event.
Boxingscene.com’s Keith Idec reported [excerpts]: Super featherweight prospect Gabriel Flores Jr. scored two knockdowns to win an easy six round unanimous decision over Edward Kakembo.
All three judges had it 60-52.
Kakembo was dropped by a counter-hook to the head in the first round, he was really buzzed and then survived in the final minute.
Kakembo was outboxed round after round and suffered another flash knockdown in the sixth round. [End Idec item]
In his post-fight interview, Gabriel said, “We went the distance and I felt great. For next year, I want to move up and fight in 10-rounders. I just finished this fight, and I don’t even feel tired – I could keep going.
“This is all about moving up and getting more experience. That’s what I want in 2019.”
In earlier interviews, Gabriel said, “I graduated from high school on June 2nd. I train at the Los Gallos Boxing Academy in Stockton. It’s my dad’s gym.
“I’d say I’m a pure boxer. I like to keep my distance and use my jab and my straight punches, but if it comes down to it, I can fight on the inside – I can do anything it takes to win.
“My favorite boxer of all time is Roy Jones Jr. Sometimes I’ll do a little showboating like he does, and sometimes I do that little jump-in hook.”
Boxingscene.com’s Francisco Salazar wrote [June 9, 2018 – excerpts]: Even at a young age and with the limited amount of fights as a pro, Flores has so far impressed with his improving skill-set and legit power he has displayed in recent fights. His maturity in and out of the ring are off the charts.
Flores, who is trained by his father Gabriel, Sr., had an extensive amateur background, fighting in and winning prestigious tournaments in and around Stockton and abroad.
After contemplating whether to continue his amateur career, Flores decided to turn pro, signing a promotional contract with Top Rank at the age of 16, the youngest to ever do so in boxing. With a pro style that will only get better, turning pro was a no-brainer for Flores.
“I made the best decision turning pro,” said Flores. “I don’t regret signing that contract and turning pro. The Olympics just wasn’t for me. I was 16 at the time. I became the youngest signed fighter by signing with Top Rank. To me, something that hadn’t happened before compared to fighting in the Olympics, I’ll take something I’m very proud of and that is signing with Top Rank.”
Aside from punching power, Flores has showed exceptional maturity and the ability to not waste extra punches during a fight.
“Picking my shots. I pick my punches better now than when I was an amateur. Ever since I’ve been young, my father has always had me fight a pro style. We were having trouble in the amateurs because we were getting robbed a lot. These fighters were throwing a lot of punches, but they were missing all of them. I would connect with two, three, or four punches, and everyone would see I would win these rounds. So, when it came to the pros, it wasn’t that hard to make that adjustment.
“I take it day-by-day. I’m very grateful and I stay motivated. I look at the big picture and I know why I’m here. I know what I’m here for.” [End Salazar item]
AMATEUR, PERSONAL BACKGROUND: Gabriel said, “I was born and raised in Stockton, California. I have four sisters and one brother. My father is a full-time boxing trainer. He owns a couple of rental houses and has his own gym – Los Gallos Boxing. I’m the only boxer in my family, but my brother used to fight – he’s the reason why I got into boxing. He was my dad’s first national champion. His name is Rogelio Gutierrez. He’s four years older than me.
“I was seven years old when I first started boxing. I was watching Rogelio in the gym when I was about five. A year went by and I just got really interested in it, and I was wondering if I could be good at it.
“I was 91-7 as an amateur. I won 12 national tournaments, and I was on the U.S. National Junior Team for two years in 2015 and 2016. When I was on the team, I did all my training at home. I never went to the training camp in Colorado Springs.”…
From the Stockton Record, by Sports Editor Bob Highfill [Feb. 8, 2015 – excerpts]: Gabriel Flores Jr. and his father are almost inseparable.
When Gabriel peppers a speed bag with crisp jabs at the Central California Youth Academy in Stockton, his father stands watch. When Gabriel steps inside the ring, his dad is in his corner. And when they find some quiet time at home, they share thoughts and ideas while watching videos of Gabriel’s fights.
Gabriel’s mother is there, too. She just isn’t there physically. Her son’s biggest fan, Juanita Maldonado was shot while attending a child’s birthday party on March 17, 2013, at a Stockton residence near Stribley Park and died the following day. She was 35. Four others were shot, reportedly by three men, including 22-year-old Juan Augestine Sarraraz Jr., who died at the scene. No arrests have been made.
The tragedy hasn’t stopped Gabriel nor his dad, 35-year-old Gabriel Flores Sr., from working toward their shared dream of competing in the 2022 Summer Olympics.
“I got to stay strong because my mom is looking down on me,” said Gabriel Flores Jr., a 14-year-old freshman at Chavez High. “I know she wants me to live my dream.”
Gabriel took a huge step in his development by winning the 125-pound weight class at the USA Boxing Youth National Championships and Junior Open last month in Reno, Nev. He won four bouts over five days and earned the national title with a 2-1 decision over Rommel Caballero of Coachella. Gabriel retained his No. 1 national ranking, which he has had for three years, and earned a spot on the junior national team that will compete in September at the AIBA Junior World Boxing Championships in St. Petersburg, Russia. Before taking his first trip outside the United States, Gabriel will compete in the USA Boxing Junior Olympic National Championships this summer in Charleston, Va.
Gabriel and his father are excited about the opportunity awaiting them in Russia.
“It will be my first international experience,” Gabriel said. “Over there, I’m going to test my international skills. Hopefully, I can win the whole tournament.”
If they didn’t share a passion for boxing, Flores Sr. said he and his son would have bonded over something else. He didn’t want his son to make the same mistakes he made. Flores Sr. grew up in east Stockton with a father whose work often took him away from home. He said he had the freedom to run the streets. He fell into gang life and ran afoul of the law. He was incarcerated when one of his daughters was born. That’s when he decided to turn his life around.
“When I was in there, I missed my family. I missed my daughter,” said Flores Sr. “I made the decision to not ever go back again. I didn’t like the feeling being away from my family.
“I decided that wasn’t for me and that’s not the life I wanted to live.”
Since Gabriel was born, his father has been a constant source of guidance and support. In a sense, the son is doing as much for his father as the father is doing for his son.
“I’m lucky enough to have my dad as my trainer because when I’m at home and I’m on a diet, he can help me out with that,” Gabriel said. “We can practice more stuff. We can practice at home. I don’t really mind that, either, because I love boxing, and me and my dad love it together. That’s all we talk about is boxing, boxing. We talk about other stuff, but mainly boxing because that’s our true passion.”
Gabriel began boxing when he was 7 years old and has earned numerous championships, including the National Silver Gloves 119-pound title last February in Independence, Mo., and two Ringside World Championships in Springfield, Mo. He earned his second Ringside World title in three years in the 110-pound open division shortly after his mother was killed.
“I know she loves watching me fight, so every time I fight, she’s watching,” Gabriel said. “And I’m imagining her in the crowd.”
Gabriel said boxing has given him confidence, helped sharpen his mind and helped him cope with his mother’s death.
“That’s one thing the sport has given me, confidence,” Gabriel said. “And it helps your mind. You have to think more in the ring. It makes you a smarter person because you can’t just go in the ring and fight. You have to think. It made me a calmer, more relaxed person. I could take a lot of things better than I used to.”
And he wants to take things all the way.
“If I can be the best boxer to ever live, that’s my goal,” Gabriel said.
His mom would like that. [End Highfill item]
2016 U.S. JUNIOR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS – Reno, Nevada, 138 pounds – GOLD MEDALIST: in the quarterfinals (his first fight) on 1-7-16 he stopped Saul Rosales in the 3rd round; in the semifinals on 1-8-16 he won a 3-0 decision against Angel Chavez; in the finals on 1-9-16 he won a 3-0 decision against Kamauray Walker…
2015 WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS – Saint Petersburg, Russia, 125 pounds – SILVER MEDALIST: in his first fight on 9-5-16 he won a 2-1 decision against Berik Dzhedibayev of Kazakhstan; in his second fight on 9-7-15 he won a 3-0 decision against Roberto Bengtsson of Sweden; in the quarterfinals on 9-9-15 he won s 3-0 decision against Naveen Boora of Indonesia; in the semifinals on 9-11-15 he won a 3-0 decision against Sakda Ruamtham of Thailand; in the finals on 9-12-15 he lost a 3-0 decision against Bilolbek Mirzarakhimov of Uzbekistan…
2015 U.S. JUNIOR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS – Reno, Nevada, 125 pounds – GOLD MEDALIST: in his first fight on 1-5-15 he won a 3-0 decision against Nathan Gonzalez; in the quarterfinals on 1-7-15 he stopped Salvador Vázquez in the 3rd round; in the semifinals on 1-8-15 he won a 3-0 decision against Joseph Adorno; in the finals on 1-9-15 he won a 2-1 decision against Rommel Caballero…
2014 NATIONAL SILVER GLOVES – Independence, Missouri, 119 pounds – GOLD MEDALIST / WON “OUTSTANDING BOXER” AWARD [incomplete results]: in the finals he defeated Ernest Cuevas…
2013 RINGSIDE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS – Springfield, Missouri, 110 pounds/13-14 open division – GOLD MEDALIST [results not currently available]…
2011 RINGSIDE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS – Springfield, Missouri, 75 pounds/11-12 open division – GOLD MEDALIST [incomplete results]: in the finals on 8-20-11 he defeated Carlos Ibarra of Arkansas City, Kansas…
STRENGTHS: Has good skills and movement…has good punching power…had a strong amateur background…
PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: 11 fights…43 total rounds…
AVERAGE LENGTH OF BOUTS: 3.9 rounds…
KNOCKOUT PERCENTAGE: 45 %…
DISTANCE FIGHTS: 6 rounds – 4 (4-0)…4 rounds – 3 (3-0)…