Stockton, California - Stockton's king is back! Gabriel Flores Jr. (22-2, 8 KOs), has now recorded two of his 8 professional knockouts in his hometown of Stockton, California, as he knocked out Derrick Murray (17-8-1, 6 KOs) in the very first round. The time of the stoppage was 27 seconds in the first round of the fight, as a well-timed left hook by Flores had Murray out for the count.
Featherweight Ruben Villa (20-1, 7 KOs), of Salinas, California, two hours from the venue, made his Top Rank Inc. debut by stopping Maickol Lopez Villagrana (16-5, 8 KOs) in five rounds, with the time of the stoppage being 1:55. Villa dropped Villagrana in the fourth round, and never left off the gas looking the part of a future world champion.
Earlier this week, Villa expressed interest in fighting Luis Alberto Lopez, the IBF featherweight world champion, who is set to fight Michael Conlan at the end of the month. The two fought before with Villa defeating Lopez on a ShoBox: The Next Generation card, Top Rank also has the WBO featherweight world champion, Robeisy Ramirez in his division. The loudest crowd reaction came from Villa's fight up until this point.
Middleweight Javier Martinez (8-0-1, 2 KOs), who is signed to Top Rank Inc., and undefeated Joeshon James (7-0-1, 4 KOs) of nearby Sacramento, California fought to a split draw. The bout was a great evenly matched fight that showed preludes of two future main event fighters testing themselves. As the competitive bout had the local fans restless for a more action-packed and less tactical affair, James probably fought the best fight of his career, and Martinez refused to give up his undefeated record. The judges had the bout 79-73, 77-75 Martinez, and 76-76 a split draw
Junior lightweight Amado Vargas (7-0, 2 KOs) targeted the body of Bernardo Manzano (2-5) to win every minute of every round of their four-round fight. Vargas dropped Manzano in the first round with a body shot and looked valiantly for a stoppage victory, but might have pressed the action too hard as it went the allotted four rounds. The scores were 40-35, all three cards.
Opening the night was an eight-round welterweight bout that saw a slow start turn into an evenly matched affair, as Brian Norman Jr. (24-0, 19 KOs) won a split-decision over a very game Jesus Perez (24-5, 18 KOs). The scores were 77-75, 77-75, and 78-74 for Norman. Perez was cut in the later rounds with blood flowing by the side of his right eye for the last two rounds. The local fans were unhappy with the scores.