It’s Tuesday and that must mean another installment of our weekly series “Rising Stars in Boxing.” This week our analysts Matt Andrzejewski and Kid Hersh are off to the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in upstate Verona, New York, the staging ground for Friday’s ESPN boxing show. The main event on the August 12 Premier Boxing Champions card pits Miguel Flores against Ryan Kielczweski and, for the first time since the inception of this series, our analysts are in opposite corners. Matt gets us started with a look at Miguel Flores.
The old saying goes “kill the body and the head will fall.” Well, for Miguel Flores (pictured in the blue trunks, photo courtesy of PBC) the opposite is true. He works the head to set up his body work. Aligned with Al Haymon, this talented 24 year old featherweight prospect has built an impressive early 20-0 record with nine knockouts. Not surprisingly for anyone who has seen Flores in action, most of the knockouts have come from body shots.
Miguel Flores’ back story is one filled with tragedy and overcoming adversity. His older brother, Benjamin Flores, was once a promising featherweight prospect. However, Benjamin lost his life to a brain injury suffered in the ring on April 30th, 2009 at the age of 24. Miguel’s mother wanted Miguel to stop boxing after the tragic loss of Benjamin but Miguel decided to go forward with his own professional career, turning pro just 102 days after his brother’s tragic fight.
The most impressive performance in the early career of Miguel Flores came last November against veteran Alfred Tetteh, a former member of the Ghanaian Olympic team. Flores came out from the opening bell showing good lateral movement, setting up combinations to the head and body while avoiding anything coming back from Tetteh. In the 2nd round, Flores maneuvered Tetteh into the corner and unleashed a perfectly thrown left hook right below Tetteh’s elbow that landed on the liver. Tetteh went down in obvious pain and was unable to beat the count. It was a brilliant performance by Flores in setting up the veteran for the knockout blow.
Flores is another one of those prospects who just looks so smooth inside the ring. He is a very fluid fighter who utilizes good lateral movement in setting up precise angles to land his combinations on his opponents. As stated earlier, Flores is a dedicated body puncher. He makes a commitment early to working his opponents downstairs and often times will set up his body shots by first working upstairs. Flores best punch is the left hook to the liver with which he has stopped multiple opponents.
Being such a committed body puncher, Flores can at times expose his chin and be vulnerable to counters. He does at times stay in the pocket too long after throwing his combinations. Flores is also not a particularly hard puncher as his record indicates, especially when throwing to the head. He does have power to the body but opponents tend to walk right through anything to the head.
Flores appears to have a bright future in this sport. He is well schooled and has been improving each time out. His bout against Ryan Kielczweski represents a step up in class and should pose an interesting test. I expect to see a good professional fight between these two and for Flores to continue to impress on his way to bigger things down the line. – MATT ANDRZEJEWSKI
Ryan Kielczweski (25-1, 7 KOs) no longer has to worry about training on a few hours of sleep. It wasn’t too long ago that the Massachusetts native was working two full time jobs while training in the late evening on leftover fumes. “The Polish Prince” doesn’t seem to get many looks as a top notch prospect and is likely to be the underdog on the betting lines in his biggest test to date against Miguel Flores.
Kielczweski has a certain air about him. When he steps into the ring he exudes the confidence of a real showman. Perhaps it stems from his nickname or perhaps other areas of his past yet to be told, but in any case he certainly entertains every time he steps in the ring. Combine the confidence with his flair and you have yourself one of the rarer types of fighters, one that is extremely fun to watch despite being a soft puncher.
One person that he could be compared to is Paulie Malignaggi. Aside from the unimpressive knockout ratio, the Polish Prince works off of his great jab just like Paulie. He likes to double and triple it up, sometimes even pumping it repeatedly a dozen times straight. Oftentimes he is scoring with it, other times just keeping his opponent at bay and off their game plan. Kielczweski also has a good defense. He is hard to hit flush when he is in rhythm, bobbing and weaving out of range but darting in with a jab or lead right hand in the blink of an eye.
One would be prone to ask why Kielczweski is not a star if he has all this great boxing skill. Well, he does have his deficiencies. For starters this writer worries about his stamina and ability to stick to a game plan. I grouped those two together because at times he has looked a bit gassed-out in the final rounds, like against Ramsey Luna and Danny Aquino, despite having my card in favor of Kielczweski over Aquino where he suffered the only defeat of his career via SD. In other fights he seems to get off his game plan in late rounds more than get physically tired, as was the case against Rafael Vazquez where he was boxing beautifully and completely dominating his man only to get off the game plan late and get tagged, resulting in a cut eye that made him finish far less strong than he should have.
Kielczweski hasn’t put it all together just yet. He was on his way after the big knockout over Miguel Soto but that was over three years ago and he hasn’t been able to recapture the public’s eye. He has a tall order against Miguel Flores, who is also skilled at boxing from range, but perhaps The Polish Prince can use his above average footwork and speed to stick and move and get his big signature win. He is a very talented fighter and assuming nerves don’t get the better of him this writer believes he could put together a full performance start to finish that will really surprise the viewing audience. He has to stay calm to do so. One thing this writer is one hundred percent positive about is that it’s bound to be a great fight between two top notch prospects. May the best man win. – KID HERSH