Buellton’s Angel Flores suffers first pro loss during fight night at Chumash Casino

Derrick Murray lands a right to the head of Angel Flores during the Main Event of WFC 131 at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez. Murray won on a split decision. Photo by David Barks

By Elliott Stern / [email protected]

Buellton’s Angel Flores put his undefeated record on the line when boxing returned with WFC 131 to the Samala Showroom at Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez on Friday night, Jan 28.

The fight was action-packed. It didn’t disappoint the partisan crowd although the outcome did as Flores (now 8-1) lost his first professional fight in a split decision to St. Louis’ Derrick Murray (15-4-1).

“A packed house, great fights – some of the best fights many of these people have ever seen,” said Matt McGovern, the WFC (World Fighting Championships) President. “The place was sold out, about 1,100 people.”

“This was our first live event in almost two years,” said Mike Traphagen, the Senior Public Relations Manager of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. “There was no better way to being back live events the boxing. The energy, the outstanding athletes, great fights – there’s nothing like it.”

Buellton’s Angel Flores gets through with a right hand against Derrick Murray during WFC boxing Friday night at the Chumash Casino. Photo by David Barks

The night featured six fights – four professional and two amateur – culminating with the highly anticipated Murray/Flores bout.

The fight between the 137-pound fighters went the scheduled six rounds with Flores getting the nod from one ringside judge (59-55) while the other two judges favored Murray 58-56.

The action was non-stop right from the start.

Both fighters pressed the attack, landing solid punches throughout.

Murray bloodied Flores’ nose late in the first round for the only visible damage to either fighter.

“Once I saw the blood, that became a target for me,” said Murray. “But he’s tough, so tough. That didn’t seem to bother him at all.”

Derrick Murray lands a left against Buellton’s Angel Flores during the Main Event of WFC 131 at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez. Murray won on a split decision. Photo by David Barks

Murray gained confidence as the fight wore on but Flores never backed away from the action.

Whenever it appeared that Murray was getting an edge, Flores fought back with a flourish – both landing powerful punches in every round.

In the fifth, Flores had the chance to put the fight away – rocking Murray with a right uppercut followed quickly with a jarring left/right combo to the head.

“In the fifth round, when he hit me, my knees buckled. I didn’t know where I was at,” said Murray. “He was hitting me with trucks, with howitzers – that man can punch. I don’t know how I survived that.”

Although it may be hard to believe, Flores’ hard-hitting style is what gained Murray the edge.

“I didn’t know anything about Angel. I only took this fight with a week’s notice,” said Murray. “But early on, I saw that he was a hard puncher and hard punchers swing slow. I was able to counter punch, get under his punches and score some points.”

Flores was unavailable to the media after the bout.

Referee Jack Reiss raises Derrick Murray’s hand to declare him the winner after the judges awarded Murray a split decision over Angel Flores during boxing action Friday night at the Chumash Casino. Photo by David Barks

The co-main event pitted Oxnard’s Rudy Ochoa and his 10-1 record against undefeated (8-0) Belleville, Ill., fighter A.J. Graham in a 132-pound fight.

Scheduled for six rounds, Ochoa suffered his first loss with a third round knockout.

Both fighters began cautiously, trading body and head shots.

Midway through the first round, Graham began landing more blows.

Graham’s confidence grew as he took control in the second round.

Early in the third round, sitting ringside, you could clearly hear Graham say “You’re going down this round.”

And then he opened a fierce attack.

A barrage of left/right/left combinations had Ochoa in trouble – holding on in a clinch to catch his breath.

Just after referee Sharon Sands separated the two, Graham pummeled Ochoa into submission – six straight shots sent Ochoa to the canvas.

Graham scored the knockout at 2:10 of the third round.

Rudy Ochoa is sent to the canvas for a third-round knockout by A.J. Graham in Friday night’s co-Main Event of WFC boxing at the Chumash Casino. Photo by David Barks

“My game plan was to use my jab,” said Graham. “In the second round, I started to hurt him. In the third round I took it to him but I had to be careful I didn’t want to punch myself out. I knew this could go four, five or six rounds. I didn’t want to get ahead of myself but I know I hurt him in the third round and I wanted to finish it.”

“I wanted to test myself and give the fans a good show so this was a good opportunity,” said Ochoa. “I love it here 100-percent. It was great getting back in the ring. I’ll be back – hopefully when the WFC is back here in April.”

A.J. Graham lands a hard right against Rudy Ochoa as referee Sharon Sands looks on during Friday night boxing at the Chumash Casino. Photo by David Barks

In early professional fights, San Fernando Valley heavyweight Josue Vargas improved to 2-0 with a first round knockout of Kingman, Arizona’s Neil Cannon, who was making his pro debut – sending him to the canvas twice and ending the fight at the 2:02 mark.

Josue Vargas scores a first-round knockout over Neil Cannon during Friday night boxing at the Chumash Casino. Photo by David Barks

In the pro debut of both fighters, Ventura heavyweight Anthony De La Cruz had an even faster win sending Dayton, Nevada’s Matt McCrary to the mat twice, winning by knockout in 1:23 of the first round.

The night began with two amateur fights.

In the first, Santa Maria’s Raul Castellanos won a unanimous decision over Los Angeles’ Jordan Minns in a 150-pound match.

Next, Santa Maria’s Kenny Dato Olpindo scored a unanimous decision over Grass Valley’s Alex Mosier in a 130-pound match.

“This was an extraordinarily even group of fighters all night,” said Jack Reiss, the night’s other referee. “These last two fights especially – they were upper level, maybe the best fights these fans have ever seen and Derrick probably fought the best fight of his life.”

The WFC will be back at the casino for two nights in April – a night of boxing on Friday, April 8, followed by a night of Mixed Martial Arts and Kick Boxing on Saturday, April 9.

— Contact Elliott Stern by email to [email protected]

— Contact David Barks by email to [email protected]

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