Published on October 29th, 2019 | by Percy Crawford0
Miguel Flores Seeks Bernard Hopkins Moment After Upsetting, Leo Santa Cruz On November 23rd
On November 23rd, Miguel Flores (24-2 with 12 knockouts) will attempt to become the WBA super featherweight champion when he faces, Leo Santa Cruz (36-1-1 with 19 knockouts).
On November 23rd, The MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada will be the host of the rematch between, heavyweights, Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz. The first fight took place in March of 2018 and was a “Fight of the Year” candidate. That’s the top of the bill. Before the heavy hitters, the card will feature two Mexican sluggers duking it out for the WBA super featherweight title. Miguel Flores was forced to pull out of a fight with, Leo Santa Cruz earlier this year due to injury. He now has a chance to redeem that cancellation and become a world-champion on a much grander stage. Fighting out of Texas by way of Mexico, Flores looks to become only the second person to defeat the volume punching, Santa Cruz. Flores vows to steal the show, which is no easy task considering, Wilder always seems to score highlight reel knockouts. Flores has accepted his role as the underdog and plans to stare down the media at press row and the fans after winning, similar to what, Bernard Hopkins did after defeating, Kelly Pavlik in 2008.
I recently caught up with, Flores who details his rehab, talks about the magnitude of the fight and how he plans to disrupt the champs rhythm.
You were scheduled to fight, Leo Santa Cruz, you suffered an injury and had to withdraw. Mentally what did that do to you and physically how do you feel now that the fight has been rescheduled?
Miguel Flores: Mentally, at the time, I was devastated. Mad at myself and mad at the world. Like they say, everything happens for a reason. At the time it didn’t make sense, but now, everything is falling into place. I have a bigger opportunity in front of me and it’s on a bigger stage. We are on the undercard of the heavyweight championship of the world, so it’s even greater. Mentally, I’m focused. It’s been about 8-months since we were supposed to fight the first time and I’m just adding knowledge and more to my craft. I know it’s going to be a tough fight. The first time I was ready, now, there are a lot more things I feel I can do to this guy to pull off the victory.
Could you talk about the injury and the process of recovery?
Miguel Flores: It was just an unfortunate injury. I was sparring and that day I had Fox Sports in there for media day. I knew my sparring partner was going to come in and try to rip my head off. It was the last round, I had pulled off a great day of sparring and literally one-minute until the finish of the round, I twisted my foot. Doctor said it was a bad bone contusion which caused a bad foot injury. At the time they said in a few days I should be good to go. It just depended on how bad the bone bruise was, but apparently it was real bad. I tried to get back in the gym a few weeks later after the fight was called off and it didn’t work, man. I had to go through a whole process of therapy and slowing things down. Basically, learning how to walk again. But now I’m great. I already had a comeback fight, I won, I got some ring rust off and I’m ready and excited.
How important was it to get that tune-up fight to see where you were and to test the foot out?
Miguel Flores: Yeah, exactly! It was a little bit of everything. I had a lot of mixed emotions going into the fight. I wanted to treat it like it was a big fight, like a, Leo Santa Cruz fight. I kind of sensed that this fight was still there for me. Obviously, every fight is important, but I wanted to treat it like a big fight. I didn’t even think about the foot during the fight. We’re back on track and back to 100%. I got a 6th round knockout, so I got a good 6-rounds of work in with a veteran opponent. We’re more than ready for November 23rd.
Leo hasn’t been the most active fighter either. His last fight was in February. Do you feel like that’s something that could potentially hurt him?
Miguel Flores: Those are all little advantages that we are looking at. He’s past 30. I’m not saying he’s a downhill fighter, but he has been inactive. I’m sure he hasn’t been as active as he would want to be. He’s been in some wars and I just think it’s great timing. I know a lot of people give me no chance to beat him, but trust me, stranger things have happened in boxing, and I know I can pull of this victory. Like I said, we are working very hard and it’s all about timing and I’m catching him at the right time.
He’s only been defeated once, and he has a draw on his record and even the loss could have gone either way. When there is truly no blueprint of success on an opponent, what do you draw from and did you see things that [Carl] Frampton and [Abner] Mares were able to get done that you could duplicate?
Miguel Flores: That’s exactly what we are looking at. Only one guy has beaten him, but there is really no secret to the, Leo Santa Cruz style. He’s going to give you tons of punches. He’s a volume puncher, loves to come forward, loves to fight and he has some balls. There is no secret to it. We have to be ready to outfight him, outsmart him and outthink him. Whatever he does, we gotta be able to take that and use it to our advantage. In the gym, we are working on a certain gameplan, and if that gameplan doesn’t work, I’m ready to just fight. I’ve been a brawler since day one. I got some tricks under my sleeve and if one thing doesn’t work, I can pull the next trick out and use it against him.
When we spoke prior to the first fight being cancelled, you said, some guys wait for him to finish punching to try and get their shots off, but sometimes he never finishes. Is the mentality still to punch with him and give him back what he’s used to giving off, volume?
Miguel Flores: We took a little bit of what we were working on before the cancellation and added a lot more to that game. There are things that I can’t speak of that we are working on in the gym to just disrupt his rhythm. I think, Leo is a fighter that keeps the same pace through the whole fight, even though lately he does try to box, his dad helped him to box a little more. I know he’s just a natural fighter on the inside. He gets hit with one good shot, he’s going to want to get that shot back, so like I said, there are many things that we can work on. I’ve watched the fights where guys had success in like the, Frampton fight and the Mares fight, those were close fights. Man, it’s so easy to disrupt his rhythm, but you gotta be able to keep that going. So, you gotta be in great condition to keep that pace and offset what he is doing. It’s going to be an exciting fight on November 23rd.
Do you feel like you are more mentally ready this time around as opposed to when the fight was originally scheduled being that you experienced how fast a huge opportunity like this could fall apart?
Miguel Flores: Definitely! In boxing… that’s the beauty of it, everyday that passes by you keep learning and maturing more. It’s been about 8-months since we were supposed to fight the first time, that’s more knowledge for me. I watched his fight against, Rafael Rivera. I saw some great things that he does, but I also saw flaws. I’m just growing mentally as a fighter and I have been being real crafty in the gym and I think that’s going to play to my advantage.
This is a PPV stage to a heavyweight title fight. Do you still have to enter this thing and treat it like a regular stage, or do you incorporate the pressure of it being the big stage and use that in your preparations?
Miguel Flores: I appreciate all of the pre-fight stuff that comes with being on PPV. I like doing this stuff and trust me, it’s not going to interfere with what I do. I’ve been around it. I’ve been around the media. Like you said, treat it like it’s just another day at the office. This is no new thing to me. I’ve been around boxing since my brother was around. This is nothing new to me. I know how to approach it. When it’s time to get down, it’s going to be the same guy in front of you trying to knock your head off, so I’m ready for that.
You know that most aren’t giving you much of a chance, how much do you ignore from a comment standpoint and how much do you read and use it as fuel?
Miguel Flores: We’re taking it all as fuel; the good comments and the bad ones. Trust me, there are times where I’m like, “Man, I want to shut those people up.” I want to give them a real hard look after the fight and just kind of stare them down and be like, “I told you so. He wasn’t going to just walk through me. I know what I can do.” I know what I’m capable of. I’m the type of fighter that rises to the occasion. I’m going to do that. I’m going to give these writer’s and these fans a hard look after the fight and let them know that I’m here to stay. I’m here to take over and it’s time for a new champion in the super featherweight division.
I can’t wait to see the fight, man. Good luck to you and we will get a camp update soon. Is there anything else before I let you go?
Miguel Flores: No man, just want to thank all of my supporters. Make sure you tune-in on November 23rd. You’re going to have two Mexicans going at it. It’s going to be a great night of boxing. Then you have the heavyweight championship of the world, Deontay Wilder against Luis Ortiz. That’s going to be a thriller too, but we are going to steal the show from them.