His words were as accurate as his punches. “We kicked off the year with a great brawl,” Miguel Flores said after his savage, all-action take down of Mexico’s Mario Briones, as the 2016 debut of Fox Sports 1’s "Toe-to-Toe Tuesdays" lived up to its name on this night.
Miguel Flores (19-0, 9 KOs) may have won a wide 10-round unanimous decision (98-92, 100-90 twice) at Cowboys Dancehall in San Antonio on Tuesday, but the scorecards didn't tell the whole tale of the fight: This was a grueling, blood-and-guts blast where both fighters ate plenty of shots and then cleared their plates for seconds.
Flores picked apart Mario Briones (27-5-2, 20 KOs) in Round 1, working behind his jab and then doing his best to cave in Briones' ribs with crushing hooks to the body. Then Round 2 started, and the 126-pound prospect abandoned his stick-and-move approach, instead choosing to stand and trade with his opponent as if to send a message: If it was a firefight that Briones wanted, Flores had his gas can at the ready.
“I was beating him so easy on the outside that some moments I got carried away, so I was staying on the inside,” Flores explained. “To me, brawling comes easier. I’m Mexican. I love brawling.”
True to his words, Flores, who was born south of the border but is a longtime resident of Houston, pummeled Briones with beautifully thrown uppercuts, a laser-guided, sweat-spraying right hand and left hooks more bruising than a rugby scrum.
But Briones took all the punishment and dished out plenty in return, landing flush right hands of his own in a blazing Round 5 where both fighters unleashed a fusillade of punches.
“I hit him with some great shots, man,” Flores said of Briones’ stamina in near-disbelief. “I thought he was going to go down, but the dude was just right there, taking them, fighting harder each round. That’s the thing that surprised me the most.”
Though Briones’ right eye got gashed early and bled badly from Round 3 on, he refused to stop bringing the fight to Flores. So Flores continued with his vicious assault, pressuring his opponent into a dogfight and bludgeoning him in a particularly brutal Round 9.
But in the latter half of the fight, Flores renewed his emphasis on his jab, with the dividends being paid on Briones’ rapidly swelling face.
“My corner told me, ‘Keep jabbing him. You’re beating him with the jab alone.’ So that’s what we did,” said Flores, who had never previously gone past eight rounds. “We picked it up in the later rounds and started boxing him again.”
Flores’ more accurate punching—he landed 45 percent of his power shots compared to 36 percent for Briones, according to Compubox—tireless work rate and rifling jab proved to be the difference as he pulled away for the gory win.
This was the kind of mettle-testing scrap that a rising young fighter like Flores, 23, needs to take the next step in his career—to demonstrate that he’s as tough as he is talented by going the distance against a hard out.
On Tuesday, Flores did just that during his first shot at headlining a televised card.
It won’t be his last.
“I love the attention. The lights just make me perform better, man,” Flores said of being in the camera’s glare. “You guys saw what I could do.”
In other televised action, 147-pound prospect Bryant Perrella, (13-0, 12 KOs) came dressed in a Hugh Hefner-worthy suit and tie, and looked just as good inside the ring as he did outside of it while dispatching an overmatched Ramon Ayala (23-6-1, 11 KOs). The southpaw Perrella punished Ayala with his jab then crushed him with precision right hands, landing everything at will. Tired of being on the wrong end of target practice, Ayala retired on his stool after Round 2.
The show opened with undefeated 175-pound up-and-comer Ahmed Elbiali (14-0, 11 KOs) pounding out a hard-fought victory over veteran tough guy Andrew Hernandez (10-4-1, 2 KOs). Hernandez had success early, outboxing the bigger Elbiali by using good lateral movement to stick and move, landing solid right hands behind his jab. But Elbiali eventually wore his opponent down, hammering him to the body in Round 5, slowing him down from there and then blasting him with teeth-rattling right hands en route to the unanimous decision victory (78-74, 77-75 twice).
For full coverage of Flores vs Briones, visit our fight page.