By Ben Jacobs
You may have recognised the man who lifted up Vasyl Lomachenko in the ring following the announcement that he had beaten Gary Russell Jr and become the WBO featherweight world champion. Cicilio Flores has been a strength and conditioning coach to some of the biggest names in the sport over the past few years including Sergio Martínez, Marcos Maidana and more recently, Manny Pacquiao. In an interview with BoxingScene, Flores reflected back on last week’s memorable match-up between Lomachenko and Gary Russell Jr and also talked about which boxers he is presently working with.
“The fight was pretty amazing, Gary Russell is an amazing fighter. I don’t remember the last fighter to win the world title in his third fight so it was pretty nice to be part of something like that, something historical,” he confessed.
“Big props to Lomachenko for winning the world title. The camp went good. I jumped from the Evgeny Gradovich camp to the Lomachenko camp after he had already started training, but I’d been communicating with him so in that regard everything was running smooth. His father has been his coach all his life so I had the pleasure of working with his father. Lomachenko is an amazing fighter, this was the first time I started working with him but it felt like I’d known him for many years.
“He made the transition from amateur to pro and that loss to [Orlando] Salido was a big blow to him. He’s such a perfectionist and such a hard worker, that fight really changed him to make him better. It was a welcome to the pros type fight. To have your second professional fight against an animal like Salido is pretty impressive. He almost beat him, it was very close.”
Although he has only just won the WBO title at featherweight, there are people in the business, both fans and journalists alike that enjoy speculating as to what will be next. Certainly the Ukrainian has the frame to move up in weight, although that will not happen for a while.
“From my understanding he definitely wants to stay at 126lbs and try to get as many fights as he can. He has no problem with making that weight, in fact, it’s very easy for him so I don’t see him jumping up for a while.
“The whole division is loaded and there are lots of fun fights for the fans to see. It’s up to his manager and his promotional company to make the best fights for him and keep him active.”
Flores is now at work with WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev who has started his preparations in California before finishing back in Florida where he resides. The Russian faces Blake Caparello on August 2 in New Jersey.
“This is my first camp with Kovalev, so far in the first week here in Big Bear everything’s going smooth. It’s an honour to work with a great champion like him and it’s going perfect. I am just blown away by his work ethic; he gives me 110% every workout and it’ll show on fight night.
“He was born with that punching power. There are a couple of other fighters like that, like ‘Chino’ Maidana. You’re definitely born with it but the strength and conditioning training can enhance that, and his quickness. There’s a lot of things I see that I’m impressed with and some things he needs to work on in the aspect of training.
“As well as Gradovich, I had the opportunity to work with Manny Pacquiao. I co-trained with another trainer and that was a great experience to work with an icon like him. That was special for me and my dream is to work with the best fighters in the world, so I worked with him for the Bradley fight and I’m looking forward to working with him in November.”
Flores had been based in Oxnard working with Robert García’s talented array of fighters before an addition to the team saw him depart.
“After Maidana beat Broner, I took some time off, I readjusted my life. There were a lot of changes I had to do. I was working with Robert García for many years and there was the fact that he wanted me to work with Alex Ariza. I was not willing to do that so I had to figure out what I wanted to do. I stepped back a bit, gathered my thoughts to find out the best decision for the future and for my family’s future. Through some help with friends and some contacts I had the opportunity to meet Manny Pacquiao. I brought in my résumé, met him, and he basically hired me on the spot. I started camp with him in GenSun (General Santos City) and after that we went to LA. It was a great experience.”
It was recently announced that the Ariza/García working relationship had ended with much discussion among boxing fans as to what brought about the decision.
“I’m not surprised at all,” said Cicilio.
“I knew it would happen, it was just a matter of time that the relationship would break up. I knew it wouldn’t last. I’ll put it this way, he’s a special kind of guy and he wasn’t going to get away with that, especially being with Robert and part of that team.”