Mandatory Photo Credit: Cris Esqueda/Golden Boy Promotions
INDIO, CA (June 8, 2023) – The pride of the Coachella Valley, Manuel “Gucci Manny” Flores (15-1, 11 KOs), put his undefeated record on the line by taking on Walter Santibanes (12-2, KOs) of Phoenix, AZ, in his first-ever Golden Boy Fight Night on DAZN headliner. Flores put himself on display as he aggressively pursued Santibanes and visibly rocked him in the second round. However, Santibanes was happy to return with powerful uppercuts and body shots that challenged the Coachella favorite. Santibanes continued to show off his strength, dominating the action in the following rounds, connecting combinations to the head and body. The 10-round bantamweight fight went the distance, with each fighter delivering a brave and entertaining performance to a boisterous crowd at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino. The judges ruled in favor of Santibanes with scores of 100-90, 99-91, and 99-91, awarding him a victory via unanimous decision.
“I showed nothing but respect to Manny, to my team, to the crowd tonight,” said Walter Santibanes. “I know the crowd is not in my favor, but I came to do my job. I try to work hard in the gym, and this is what I have to do; this is my job. I want to go down to 115 lbs, but I’ll fight whomever they throw at me at any weight. I’ll fight anyone.”
“We’re going back to the drawing board,” said Manny Flores. “We didn’t get the victory today, so we have to go back, adjust and work to come back stronger.”
In the co-main event of the night, female boxing veteran and former two-division world champion Jelena Mrdjenovich (42-12-4, 19 KOs) of Hay River, Canada returned to the ring to face former world title contender of Santiago, Colombia, Calista “Cali” Silgado (21-17-4, 16 KOs). The scheduled 10-round featherweight event went the distance, with both fighters aggressively pursuing each other throughout the fight. Ultimately, the judges ruled in favor of Mrdjenovich, with scores of 95-95, 97-93, and 96-94, giving the former world champion a victory by majority decision.
“My performance today was what I needed; it was a tough fight, it was a lot of action,” said Jelena Mrdjenovich. “I wish I would have started a little bit more aggressive earlier and kind of got a little bit of the ring rest out. It’s been since September since I’ve been in the ring and, and, you know, getting my feet wet and I think we showed some really good things. I’m looking forward to showing people action packed fights. So really thankful to the fans down here and really thankful to Golden Boy for the opportunity.”
Undefeated fighter “Junebug” Daniel Garcia (6-0, 5 KOs) of Denver, CO faced off against Yucatan, Mexico’s Luis “El Duro” May (22-17-1, 8 KOs) in a scheduled 6-round lightweight fight. A right cross early in the first round sent Luis May to the canvas with 1:13 left in the round. Unable to get up, the referee waved the fight off, awarding Garcia another knockout to his record.
“I want to thank all my fans, managers, sponsors, and coaches for the opportunity,” said Daniel Garcia. “You don’t really expect to get the knock out, you go to in the ring with a plan. But after the jab I threw a right hand cross and it landed. My plan was to use my jab to set up everything. It’s the best punch in boxing, you learn that at a young age. I am just going to enjoy my time and get ready for the next opportunity.”
Sonora, Mexico’s Gael “El Terror” Cabrera (1-0, 1 KO), made his professional debut against Ulises Rosales (0-7), of Tijuana, Mexico, in a scheduled 4-round featherweight bout. The fight was waved off at the 1:29 marker of the first round after Rosales hit the canvas twice after being hit with a body shot in the left side of the body. Cabrera was crowned the winner via knockout in his first professional event.
“I was nervous to be fighting on such a big stage, in front of a big crowd and cameras, but once I stepped into the dressing room, I knew I needed to perform and fight like I have in my past fights as an amateur,” said Gael Cabrera. “Today was the beginning of my professional career and I am looking forward to continuing this journey.”
In the opening fight of the night, Patricio “El Cacahuate” Manuel (3-0), of Los Angeles, CA faced Lake Elsinore’s Alexander Gutierrez (0-2) in a 4-round lightweight fight. The fight featured lively exchanges between both fighters, with Patricio Manuel eager to dominate the action. Manuel effectively used his jab to set up body shots, slowing down Gutierrez throughout the event and awarding him the victory via unanimous decision with scores of 40-36 from all three judges.
“You know, I wasn’t super happy with my performance today. I was just thinking more of putting a power shot in rather than listening to my corner and adding more combinations,” said Patricio Manuel. “I feel like towards the end of the fight in the last round I started to get more comfortable and finally started to listen to my corner and adding more combinations, but it’s a four round fight. I need to make sure that I get there sooner. But, you know, at the end of the day, I’m happy that I got a win. And most importantly, this is where I had my pro debut and people booed me the first time because of who I am. And today it was obviously a different reaction, they cheered for me, so that is a victory. I think the boxing community has seen that I didn’t just come here for one show. I’m here as a fighter. I’ve dedicated more than half my life to this sport. And I think it shows every time I step in the room.”