Sixteen-Year-Old Stockton Boxer to Make Professional Debut

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Stockton's Gabriel Flores Jr. actually won't turn 17 until May 1, and four days later he'll make his professional debut for one of the biggest names in boxing, Top Rank.

Flores Jr. will need an exemption just to make his professional debut at such a young age.

"It doesn't worry me that I'm 17, that I am going to be 17 by the time the fight comes, because this is what I've been doing my whole life," Flores said. "You know, we're two human beings in there, and we've both got two hands. So, there's nothing too much more than that to it."

Flores was the top-ranked junior lightweight when legendary promoter Bob Arum signed him last year.

"Someone who signed Muhammad Ali, the all-time greatest and so much history from just that name," Flores said. "So it's just a blessing to meet him, and for him to know me and remember my name every time it's brought up...I'm not just another fighter. It feels good."

The 16-year-old's father is also the boxer's manager and trainer. The two have been dependent on one another for a long time, but never has their faith been tested like it was five years ago when Juanita Maldonado, mother and wife to the pair, was gunned down at a kid's birthday party in Stockton.

No one has ever been charged with her murder.

"I kind of explained to him at a young age, what was going on," the elder Flores said. "And he understood and just kept chasing his dream."

The younger Flores was only 12 years old when he lost his mother to gang violence. But he has channeled those emotions into a sport he loves.

"I would love for her to still be with me, and her walk me out to the ring. But, unfortunately, that's not the situation we're in," Gabriel Flores Jr. said. "So, I've got to use that in a positive way, I've got to try to take every negative and try and turn it into a positive because that's the only thing that will make me stronger and better."

Gabriel Flores Jr. will be making his professional debut in Reno, fighting in the lightweight division, which is at 132 pounds.


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