Giovanni Cabrera followed his handlers’ advice and finally fought more aggressively Saturday night.
The strategy change paid off for the southpaw from Chicago, who dropped Gabriel Flores Jr. three times on his way to winning a unanimous decision in their 10-round lightweight fight on the Isaac Dogboe-Joet Gonzalez undercard at Grand Casino Hinckley in Hinckley, Minnesota. Cabrera, who floored Flores twice in the first round and again during the fifth round, won by the same score, 98-89, on the cards of judges Tim Cheatham, John Mariano and Patrick Morley.
Cabrera remained unbeaten (21-0, 7 KOs). Flores (21-2, 7 KOs), of Stockton, California, lost for the second time in his past three fights and was unsuccessful in his debut as a full-fledged lightweight.
An assertive Cabrera dropped Flores just five seconds into their fight, scored another knockdown 55 seconds later and almost stopped Flores in the first round. A resilient Flores avoided a first-round knockout and made their fight competitive at times in the ensuing nine rounds, but Cabrera comfortably beat him.
Flores obviously needed a knockout entering the 10th and final round.
Cabrera nailed Flores with a left hand a little less than a minute into the 10th round. Cabrera also landed multiple left hands with just under a minute remaining in their fight.
Flores snapped back Cabrera’s head 15 seconds into the ninth round. Cabrera knocked Flores off balance with a right hook 1:20 into the ninth round.
Down big on the scorecards, Flores blasted Cabrera with a left hook that made Cabrera stumble with just over 1:40 to go in the seventh round. About 40 seconds later, Cabrera caught Flores with a straight left.
Fitch called for a break in the action with just over 30 seconds to go in the seventh round and sternly warned Flores for hitting Cabrera behind his head.
A right hand by Cabrera stunned Flores about 35 seconds into the sixth round.
Flores, who boxed effectively during the fourth round, and Cabrera traded punches in the opening minute of the fifth round.
A right-left combination by Cabrera rocked Flores with just over 20 seconds to go in the fifth round. Cabrera’s short right hook sent Flores to the canvas for the third time in their fight, with 16 seconds to go in that round.
Flores got up and complained to Fitch about getting hit behind his head. Cabrera rocked Flores with several additional flush punches prior to the end of the fifth round.
A straight left by Cabrera backed up Flores barely a minute into the third round. Another left by Cabrera staggered Flores at just about the midway mark of the third round.
Cabrera’s right hook made Flores stumble with 25 seconds on the clock in the third round.
Cabrera’s right hook connected with just over a minute to go in the second round. After suffering two knockdowns in a surprising first round, Flores’ legs appeared to be under him throughout the second round.
Cabrera caught Flores cold in the first round, when he knocked him down twice.
A straight left by Cabrera floored Flores only five seconds into their fight. A stunned Flores got off the seat of his trunks, but Cabrera went for the knockout.
A left hand by Cabrera knocked Flores into the ropes, which seemed to hold him up 22 seconds into their fight. Another left hand by Cabrera knocked Flores into the ropes again, which counted as a second knockdown of the first round exactly a minute into their fight.
Flores showed real resolve thereafter to avoid getting knocked out during the opening round. Cabrera’s punch output went down after that second knockdown because he threw a lot of punches while trying to finish Flores.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.