Miguel Flores was pretty certain Friday’s fight against Ryan Kielczweski would be the most difficult of his pro career, and he was on-point with that prediction. Good thing for Flores he was on-point with a good deal of his punches, too.
In a clash of 126-pound contenders, Miguel Flores (21-0, 9 KOs) used an aggressive body attack along with superior mobility, speed and accuracy to separate himself from Ryan Kielczweski (25-2, 7 KOs), winning a close 10-round unanimous decision at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York.
Two judges scored the contest 96-94, while the third had it 97-93. That gave Flores his third consecutive 10-round victory this year, meaning the 24-year-old has now won all but one of his fights by stoppage or unanimous decision.
The final stats give a good indication of how competitive the fight was, as Kielczweski had a 295-260 edge in total punches (including 104-24 in jabs), while Flores had a 236-191 advantage in power shots.
“I boxed and banged it out with Kielczweski, and it feels great to get this win,” said Flores, a Mexican-American from Houston who was competing for the first time on the East Coast. “I thought I would hurt him with body shots, so we did a lot of work down there tonight.”
Indeed, Flores came out strong by effectively targeting the body with both hands while countering Kielczweski’s lateral movement. Both fighters stood toe-to-toe frequently throughout the early rounds, but Flores generally got the better of the exchanges by alternately moving forward and backward as Kielczweski struggled to find a rhythm.
After four rounds, Flores was sitting on a big lead, with Kielczweski winning just one round—the third—on a single card. But then “The Polish Prince” found his groove in the fifth, backing his opponent into the corner with a trio of jabs before landing his biggest punch of the night: a right hand up the middle that rocked Flores, followed by a similarly potent right to the ear.
Kielczweski swept the fifth on all three cards, outlanding Flores 44-23.
“I started a little slow, but I really picked it up in the fifth round,” said Kielczweski, a 27-year-old from Quincy, Massachusetts, who enjoyed much of the crowd support. “I was gaining steam in the second half of the fight.”
After the fifth, Flores fought mostly in retreat—seemingly out of necessity—although both fighters had their moments in the second half of the all-action battle.
Flores won Rounds 6 and 7 before Kielczweski took the eighth thanks to a series of hooks and hard right hands that found the mark. However, Flores rebounded in the ninth by winning several toe-to-toe exchanges and slipping Kielczweski’s biggest shots.
“I think my movement was the difference,” said Flores, who, like Kielczweski, stands 5-foot-8. “Ryan said I couldn't move, but I showed him and everyone else that I can.”
Despite having previously gone 10 rounds only once, Kielczweski turned up the aggression in the final frame, which ended with both fighters firing big shots in a down-to-the-wire phone-booth exchange.
Kielczweski ended up sweeping the round, but it wasn’t enough to save him from his second career defeat.
“I can't say that I won, but I thought it could have been a draw,” said Kielczweski, who entered Friday on a three-fight winning streak. “I thought we fought a great fight tonight for the fans, and I will be back.”
Said Flores: “He had some pop, and in the last round he got me with a body shot. But we are used to tough fights like this. I like it like that. This is fun to me.”
The victory was Flores’ seventh in the last 15 months as he continues to make a case for earning his first title shot.
“We will watch the video and correct what I know were a lot of mistakes, but I believe I’m ready for the next level,” he said. “I’m ready for the top contenders.”
In the 147-pound co-main event, Yordenis Ugas (16-3, 7 KOs)—a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist from Cuba—handed Jamal James (20-1, 9 KOs) his first defeat with a dominant unanimous decision. Ugas prevailed 96-94, 98-92 and 99-91.
While Ugas was fighting for the first time since May 2014, James was back in the ring for the second time in 27 days, having won a tough split decision against Wale Omotoso on July 16. A 28-year-old native of Minneapolis, James accepted the fight Wednesday in place of undefeated southpaw Bryant Perrella, who had to bow out because of a thumb injury.
For complete pre- and post-bout coverage of Flores vs Kielczweski, hit up our fight page.