By Keith Idec
Every time Moises Flores hears or reads that he was “faking” against Guillermo Rigondeaux, it makes him angry.
Rigondeaux, the former champion’s team, and some factions of fans and media contend Flores could’ve continued once Rigondeaux fouled him after the bell to end the first round of their 122-pound title fight nearly a year ago in Las Vegas. Flores and Rigondeaux threw punches after the bell, but Rigondeaux’s left hand knocked Flores to the canvas.
Mexico’s Flores informed referee Vic Drakulich that he couldn’t continue. Drakulich initially ruled it a first-round knockout victory for Rigondeaux, but the Nevada State Athletic Commission later changed it to a no-contest because Rigondeaux clearly fouled Flores.
Rigondeaux’s flush left hand left Flores sprawled out on the canvas. Just before Rigondeaux’s left landed after the bell, he connected with two left hands while holding down Flores from behind his head.
The backlash Flores faced for not continuing has hung over him since they fought last June 17 at Mandalay Bay Events Center. He disputes that he was “faking” the extent of how hurt he was to try to get Rigondeaux disqualified.
“It bothers me a lot,” Flores told BoxingScene.com through a translator. “But every time I read a comment or hear this or that, it just motivates me.”
The WBA ordered an immediate rematch between Rigondeaux and Flores. Rigondeaux instead moved up two weight classes to challenge Vasily Lomachenko, then the WBO super featherweight champion.
Cuba’s Rigondeaux (17-1, 11 KOs, 1 NC) lost that bout by technical knockout December 9 in New York because he declined to continue following the sixth round.
Flores, 31, hasn’t fought since that controversial contest with Rigondeaux. He’ll end almost exactly a one-year layoff Saturday night, when he’ll challenge Los Angeles’ Danny Roman for that same WBA super bantamweight championship in Frisco, Texas.
“It was a learning experience,” Flores said of what happened against Rigondeaux. “I learned from it. I learned that no matter if you’re a gold medalist or you’re a champion, you can’t show these guys too much respect in the ring because anything can happen. It won’t happen again. It’s not gonna bother me. It actually motivated me and it’ll make me better.”
The scheduled 12-round bout between Flores (25-0, 17 KOs, 2 NC) and Roman (24-2-1, 9 KOs) will be broadcast by Showtime as part of a tripleheader from Ford Center at The Star, the Dallas Cowboys’ training facility (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT). Errol Spence Jr. (23-0, 20 KOs), of nearby DeSoto, Texas, will make a mandatory defense of his IBF welterweight title against Mexico’s Carlos Ocampo (22-0, 13 KOs) in the main event.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.