Gabriel Flores Jr. has agreed to a replacement for Andrew Cancio.
BoxingScene.com has learned that the undefeated Flores will oppose junior lightweight veteran Jayson Velez on February 20 at an undetermined MGM property in Las Vegas. ESPN will televise Flores-Velez as the 10-round co-feature that night before a 12-round, 130-pound championship match in which Mexicans Miguel Berchelt (38-1, 34 KOs) and Oscar Valdez (28-0, 22 KOs) will fight for Berchelt’s WBC super featherweight title.
The 20-year-old Flores (19-0, 6 KOs) was intent to take a step up in his upcoming appearance after thoroughly out-boxing Ryan Kielczewski (30-5, 11 KOs) in his last fight, a 10-rounder October 3 at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
The Stockton, California, native, who is promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., had hoped Canico would provide that tougher test in his 20th professional fight. The 32-year-old Cancio (21-5-2, 16 KOs), a former WBA 130-pound champ from Ventura, California, agreed to face Flores and their 10-round fight was officially announced a week ago.
As BoxingScene.com first reported Monday, Cancio quickly withdrew from the Flores fight due to a back injury that prevented him from training.
Puerto Rico’s Velez (29-7-1, 21 KOs) suffered the first knockout defeat of his career to Valdez in Velez’s most recent appearance. Valdez, a former WBO featherweight champion, dropped the usually durable Velez once in the fifth round and twice in the 10th round before their scheduled 10-rounder was stopped July 21 at MGM Grand Conference Center.
In his previous appearance, the 32-year-old Velez lost a controversial, 12-round split decision to Panama’s Jaime Arboleda (16-2, 13 KOs) last February 8 at PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.