One of the most promising action-packed fights of the year will be getting a solid chief support plan.
Gabriel Flores Jr. will take on former world champion Andrew Cancio in a super featherweight showdown as the co-feature to the clash between WBC super featherweight titlist Miguel Berchelt and Oscar Valdez on Feb. 20 from the MGM Grand Bubble in Las Vegas on ESPN, Carl Moretti, vice president of boxing operations for Top Rank, told BoxingScene.com.
Cancio (21-5-2, 16 KOs) will be making his Top Rank debut more than one year after signing a multi-fight deal with Bob Arum’s promotional outfit.
Cancio was formerly signed with Golden Boy but released from his contract on Thanksgiving week 2019 shortly after he made negative comments toward Oscar De La Hoya regarding his lack of promotion. Cancio then lost his fight and title to Renee Alvarado, and their relationship was severed.
Cancio was set to face Manuel Rojas on July 16 last year but Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Bob Bennett refused to sanction the match because he deemed Rojas as an unfit opponent.
There will be nothing unfit about the 20-year-old Flores Jr. (19-0, 6 KOs). The upstart Flores Jr. finished 2020 with a 3-0 record, fighting twice in the Bubble and once during the Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder undercard.
The 32-year-old Cancio should provide a tough test for the undefeated Flores Jr., who has not landed a knockout win over his last six fights.
Cancio was riding a four-fight winning streak, including two wins over Alberto Machado in 2019, before suffering the loss to Alvarado in his last fight. Cancio had beaten Alvarado in 2015, but couldn’t repeat the feat a second time.
Cancio was one of boxing’s Cinderella stories in 2019 when he successfully completed his journey out of retirement and won a version of the WBA 130-pound title by knocking out Machado, and doing it again for good measure in a rematch months later.
Cancio also works a day job doing backbreaking labor in the field for the Southern California Gas Company.
Steve Kim of The 3 Knockdown Rule podcast first reported the news that a fight between Flores Jr. and Cancio had been made.
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com