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Straight Left

By Ron Galarpe

Narvaez on Flores: "I do not even know if he is black, white, low or high"
Sat, 05 Aug 2006

Omar Andres Narvaez

Several weeks back, reports came out of Argentina that reigning WBO Flyweight champion Omar Andres Narvaez does not know much of his Filipino opponent Rexon Flores. Narvaez was quoted saying “I do not even know if he is black, white, low or high. My manager Mario Margossian is still waiting for that video clips of Flores to arrive but it does not matter to me if I have to fight a fighter that I do not know.”

But Narvaez cleared that though Flores’ record does not impressed him, he could never underestimate the Filipino because he was also a little known challenger when he stole the belt from former champion Adonis Rivas. Narvaez has enough reasons to respect Flores, as he is aware of what is happening in Philippine boxing at the moment. Narvaez said, “Boxing in the Philippines is on its brightest moment because of Manny Pacquiao that resulted to the recent streak of Filipino fighters in the United States.” His words may not be directed towards Flores but he knows he must respect his Asian foe, as the Filipinos are one of the hottest commodities in boxing today.

Narvaez injured his lethal left hand in his bout with Alexander Mahmutov but he indicated that his left fist has fully recovered though confirming that there is still a bit of pain in it. A probable hope of a handicapped left hand on Narvaez from the Flores camp may proved futile as Narvaez had disposed six opponents after the occurrence of the injury.

The Argentinean had been summoned several times by the WBO and was in danger of being forced to relinquish his belt as he failed to perform his mandatory defenses as required by the said boxing agency. Narvaez have officially defended his belt six times since capturing the crown in July 2002 but failed to defend it even once in 2004 and only once in 2005. His reasons for failing to defend are his injured left hand and purses that never agreed with the opposing camps. Narvaez was penciled to defend against Hussein Hussein of Australia in 2004 but they never come to terms to the dismay of Jeff Fenech.

Omar Andres Narvaez was a two-time Olympian for Argentina and among his victims in his amateur career are current world top-ranked contenders Joan ‘little tyson” Guzman and Jose Navarro. Narvaez beat Navarro during the 1999 Pan-American games and Guzman in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, which saw our own “Onyok” Velasco gave us the silver finish in the strawweight class.

Narvaez is on his fourth year as reigning WBO flyweight champion but after capturing the crown in 2002, observers believed that he only defended his belt against one legitimate and competitive contender in the name of Andrea Sarritzu which he had a victory and a draw. Narvaez’ reign clearly does not constitute a superb resume of victims. Fact is out of his nine victims since becoming a champion in 2002, seven of which were over 30-year-olds who were all unknown commodities from his trajectory of challengers. His victims with their age during their meet with Narvaez were Lazarte 31, Mahmutov 38, Carvalho 34, Obregon 31, Inom 32, Vicente 37 and Azuaga 32.

Nonetheless, no matter how we see Narvaez as a protected champion, his ring ability speaks well of his current status. Observers described the man called “The Hurricane” as a prime class of slugger who applies non-stop pressure from end to finish. Narvaez would wear out his opponent with head and body assault, he has power and quite fast on his feet. The Argentinean is never regarded as a boxer but his 70% knockout rate is a testimony on his fearsome reputation as a non-stop slugger. Omar Narvaez is the least known champion from Argentina, his compatriots Jorge Barrios and Carlos Baldomir are a mile away in popularity and earnings.

The 23-year old Rexon Flores should be the youngest fighter Narvaez will be facing since getting the belt from Adonis Rivas. The young Filipino fighter from the stable of Bebot Elorde is not known for his power but rather for his resilience and active punching output. Flores is a boxer-puncher that could go toe-to-toe or box depending on the urgency.

It is hard to tell if Flores could gain an upset over Narvaez as there are so many factors going against the Filipino. For one, it is winter in Argentina while in the Philippines where Flores trained is humid. Flores never fought overseas and since this will be his first outside the country, he would need more than one heart fighting in a very hostile environment, as the match will be held right at the heart of Narvaez’ hometown called Cordoba. Flores is talented but I think he lacks the necessary exposure to face the more experienced and vaunted slugger Narvaez. And lastly, Flores lacks power that if he failed to floor the Argentinean, judges may favor the hometown boy.

However, Flores is known as a diligent boxer, well disciplined and is always in tiptop shape. His trainer Erbito Salavarria is a plus factor for him as the former Filipino world champion is a proven master. Anything can happen in boxing and who knows, Narvaez might not be in top shape or maybe we can hope that age has finally caught up with the champ. We may also consider that the champion hardly faced a real worthy challenger that he would find a real match in Flores.

Win or lose, Rexon Flores is our man!

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