The California State Athletic Commission on Monday released heavyweight Alexander Flores’ $80,000 purse after initially withholding it for possible lack of effort in a first-round knockout loss to former two-time world title challenger Luis “King Kong” Ortiz on Nov. 7.
Ortiz knocked out Flores in just 45 seconds in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card on Fox at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
Within minutes of the end of the bout, Andy Foster, the executive director of the California commission, made the decision to withhold Flores’ purse pending an investigation into his performance and a hearing. The fight ended when Ortiz (32-2, 27 KOs), who was paid his $250,000 purse on fight night, threw a right hook to Flores’ midsection that did not appear to land cleanly.
On Monday, the commission held a hearing via Zoom video conference on the matter, which Flores was required to attend, and ultimately voted 4-0 to release Flores’ purse in full.
“After having additional time to review the bout and further consultation with Dr. (Paul) Wallace, the Ringside Physician, I defer to Dr. Wallace’s judgment that Mr. Flores sustained adequate trauma and should not have continued in the bout,” Foster said. “I recommend Mr. Flores receive his full purse for the bout.”
Foster recounted his reason for initially withholding the purse in his written statement, which was part of investigation and obtained by BoxingScene.
“Chief Athletic Inspector Mark Relyea and the Ringside Physician Dr. Wallace notified me they were questioning the outcome of the bout between Alexander Flores and Luis Ortiz,” Foster wrote. “The concern was whether Alexander Flores intentionally was not competing to the best of his ability. After consultation with the Chief Athletic Inspector, the referee (Thomas Taylor) and the Ringside Physician, and with the information available to me the evening of the bout, I made the decision to withhold Mr. Flores’ purse pending a hearing with the Commission so we can further review the matter. Once the decision was made, I notified the Chair and the Commission’s Legal Counsel of what had occurred.”
As part of the investigation, the commission obtained written statements from Relyea, Taylor, Wallace and athletic commission inspectors Angel Berroteran, who was assigned to Ortiz, and Raul Oseguera, who was assigned to Flores, in which each explained what they witnessed.
“While Alexander Flores was a suitable opponent, he was considered a significant underdog in this contest. Once the contest began, Flores appeared to be overmatched,” Relyea wrote in his statement. “He did not look like he entered the contest in the best condition. Flores also looked threatened by the punching power of Ortiz. Forty-five seconds into the contest Ortiz struck Flores with a loud roundhouse punch. Flores fell to the canvas. This knockdown looked unusual and awkward to the public. I was not sure where the punch of Ortiz landed on Flores.
“I noted Ortiz looked surprised that Flores fell to the canvas while walking to the neutral corner. Referee Thomas Taylor began his count on Flores who was on ‘all fours’ until he stood up at the count of nine. Referee Taylor looked at Flores, who appeared to be hurt, and stopped the bout. Dr. Wallace, who was sitting at the end of commission table and had the best view of the knockout, questioned the damage to Flores stating that he did not see a clean punch land.
“Executive Officer Andy Foster, who watched the event on television, sent me a text message stating that the knockout looked unusual and questioned whether or not Flores competed in earnest. He informed me that members of the promotion had raised the same question. Based on these observations, I instructed Inspector Angel Berroteran, who was assigned to Ortiz, to question him about the validity of the knockout. Berroteran returned a few minutes later and informed me that Ortiz said that he had struck him with a good body shot earlier but was surprised that Flores could not continue after he was knocked down by the right hook. Ortiz stated that maybe Flores was just in the fight for the money.”
Relyea went on to write that members of the commission tried to interview Flores about the knockout but he had already left the building, at which point Foster made the decision to hold the purse.
During the post-fight briefing with officials, Relyea said he spoke with Oseguera, who said he believed Flores was legitimately hurt by the punch and unable to go on.
“It is clear that this knockout was unique,” Relyea wrote. “Based on the questions that arose from the circumstances and the amount of money involved in the purse of both contestants, our Commission had a clear obligation to inquire into this matter. However, based on the review of the facts, in my opinion there is not sufficient evidence to indicate that Flores failed to compete in earnest. I recommend that Flores be paid the full contracted amount of his purse, and that this inquiry is not referenced in his record of performance.”
Wallace, a longtime California ringside doctor, said he did not believe Flores was able to go with the fight after the knockdown.
“After further video review and consultation with our (neurologic committee), I believe the boxer sustained adequate trauma to match his complaints and I do not believe the boxer should have continued,” Wallace wrote in his statement.
Flores (18-3-1, 16 KOs), 30, of Rowland Heights, California, has been knocked out early in all three of his losses, including by former heavyweight titleholders Joseph Parker (in the third round in 2018) and Charles Martin (in the fourth round in 2014).
Dan Rafael was ESPN.com’s senior boxing writer for fifteen years, and covered the sport for five years at USA Today. He was the 2013 BWAA Nat Fleischer Award winner for excellence in boxing journalism.