With so much excitement being generated atop the 126-pound division, Miguel Flores is looking to get himself a piece of the action.
“Our weight class has been probably the most exciting in boxing, with the champions being involved in some great fights,” he said. “Sometimes you measure yourself as to how you would do against them. I’m sure that in another fight or two, I’ll be right there with those guys. That motivates me to perform at a higher level."
Miguel Flores (20-0, 9 KOs) will attempt to climb the next rung on the ladder Friday night when he faces Ryan Kielczweski (25-1, 7 KOs) in a headlining 10-round bout at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
The 24-year-old Houston resident has been paying close attention to the main players at 126 pounds and envisions himself eventually fighting for a world championship.
“You have Gary Russell Jr. with his speed, Carl Frampton with the good movement and Leo Santa Cruz with the high-volume punching,” Flores said. “They're all great fighters with tremendous skills and attributes, but I think I could hang with any of those guys. The way I’m looking at myself, I’m not too far out of the picture.”
Flores has ascended in the rankings by defeating tough fighters with considerably more ring experience than him. The 5-foot-8 boxer-puncher was dominant in winning two unanimous decisions earlier this year, as he nearly shut out both Mario Briones in January and Ruben Tamayo in May.
“With the experience of going 10 rounds twice, I gained more than you learn from a second- or third-round knockout,” says Flores, who is trained by Aaron Navarro and assisted by Bobby Benton and conditioning coach Edward Jackson.
“My fight with Briones, I went in there to box, but it was ultimately a brawl and we went to war. My last fight with Tamayo, with him being a southpaw, we had to box a little more, so I showed that I could do both and that maybe I can soon be mentioned along with some of the best guys in the division.”
After beating more seasoned, lesser-ranked opponents over the last two years, Flores is now facing a foe in Kielczweski who is on roughly the same career trajectory that he is.
The 5-foot-8 Kielczweski, a 27-year-old native of Quincy, Massachusetts, has won three straight fights after his lone defeat and is coming off a shutout eight-round unanimous decision over Mario Macias Rorozco in April.
“Ryan's a good fighter with excellent boxing skills, but I’ve heard he thinks that I can’t box, which is great motivation because I’m not your typical Mexican fighter,” Flores said. “I’ve added a lot more IQ to my game and have a few tricks up my sleeve.
“If I have to show the public that I can beat him at his own game, I'll do that, depending on how the fight plays out. I’ve had a few sparring partners tell me that I’m probably the slickest Mexican fighter they’ve ever sparred. I’m going to show that on [Friday]."
For a complete look at Flores vs Kielczweski, visit our fight page.