Flores looks to continue climb up 130-pound ladder with win over Nguyen

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Sometimes, a fighter’s record doesn’t paint the most accurate picture of his skills—even a fighter who is undefeated. Take, for example, Miguel Flores.

Miguel Flores and Dat Nguyen

Miguel Flores (left) has won all 21 of his fights by either stoppage or unanimous decision, including 18 in his home state of Texas, where he will battle Dat Nguyen on Tuesday night in Houston. (Nabeel Ahmad/Premier Boxing Champions)

A quick check of Flores’ ledger shows the fast-rising 130-pound prospect is 21-0 with nine knockouts. What it doesn’t show, however, is that the Mexico-born, Houston-based boxer has yet to see a style that he can’t pick apart.

Just review Flores’ three fights in 2016, all of which ended in unanimous decision victories: He dominated an aggressive right-handed countryman (Mario Briones), a powerful southpaw countryman (Ruben Tamayo) and a slick-boxing Massachusetts native (Ryan Kielczweski).

Oh, and those three veterans brought a combined 78 victories into the ring.

“We fought a brawler in Briones, a left-hander in Tamayo and Kielczweski, who was supposed to outbox me, but I ended up outboxing Kielczweski,” says the 24-year-old Flores. “I learned a lot from those three fights. I can still brawl, but I’ve become more of a technician.”

Miguel Flores will look to build on his vast array of skills—and move another step closer to becoming a full-blown contender—when he takes on boxer-puncher Dat Nguyen (19-3, 6 KOs) on Tuesday in a 10-round clash at the Silver Street in Flores’ hometown of Houston.

At Monday’s weigh-in, Flores hit the scale at 128 pounds while Nguyen checked in at 129¼ for a fight that headlines a Toe-to-Toe Tuesdays card on FS1 and Fox Deportes (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT).

As was the case in his three contests last year, Flores once again will be facing a veteran opponent, but with one caveat: Nguyen, who turned pro in mid-2004, hasn’t been all that active in recent years.

In fact, the 34-year-old Vietnam native who now resides in Vero Beach, Florida, has fought just four times since October 2009. By comparison, 19 of Flores’ 21 pro fights have taken place over the same time span.

I’m not sure if Nguyen has the endurance to take what I’m gonna be dishing out. But we’re sure going to find out. Miguel Flores, unbeaten 130-pound prospect

Granted, Nguyen fought twice a month apart last spring, and he won both by six-round unanimous decision. However, those victories came against journeymen Gustavo Molina and Jesus Lule.

Needless to say, Nguyen understands facing an opponent with the skills and youth of Flores—in his backyard, no less—is a big gamble at this point in his career.

“In boxing, you take some risks to get rewarded,” Nguyen says. “Miguel’s the young, up-and-coming hometown fighter, and I’m the veteran opponent he has to beat to make a name for himself.”

Having acknowledged that, though, Nguyen insists he’s coming to fight and deliver a big upset.

“I’m entering hostile territory for another opportunity to get back into the mix, and I’m not going to blow it,” says Nguyen, who trains out of the Miracle Boxing Academy in Vero Beach. “Beating this young, hungry fighter [would] bring me the recognition I need to get back to the top.

“I have a game plan, and if I stick to it, this kid’s going to be surprised.”

Nguyen’s three professional losses were all against undefeated foes who sported a combined record of 37-0. He claims the first defeat was the result of “hometown scoring,” and says the other two setbacks—which occurred consecutively in 2011 and 2013—came after he agreed to take the fights on short notice.

Having competed twice last year and with a full training camp under his belt leading up to this fight, Nguyen believes he’ll be at his best come Tuesday night.

“I’ve had the proper training and the proper sparring, so I don’t feel like I’m being set up,” says Nguyen, who at 5-foot-6 is two inches shorter than Flores. “People think I’m just a one-dimensional, come-forward fighter, but this time, they’re going to see the best of me because the circumstances are completely different.”

Flores isn’t so sure. In scouting Nguyen, he saw a boxer very similar to one of his opponents from last year. “Nguyen is like Briones: an aggressor who gets hit and comes right back, only with less power,” he says.

To prep for Nguyen’s style, Flores employed a series of aggressive, hard-punching sparring partners, including 5-foot-4 Jesse Garcia (5-0, 4 KOs), a 130-pounder from Kingwood, Texas.

“I used fighters who applied a lot of pressure,” says Flores, who is 18-0 when fighting in Texas, including 6-0 in Houston. “The only difference is that the guys I was sparring with have a little more power than Dat Nguyen.

“I’m not sure if Nguyen has the endurance to take what I’m gonna be dishing out. But we’re sure going to find out.”

For complete coverage of Flores vs Nguyen, bounce over to our fight page.

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