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Flores, 9, to compete for Region-8 title
Nine-year-old Andre Flores will compete at the Silver Gloves Region-8 Tournament this week in Compton. The La Rosa Elementary School fourth-grader won the 65-pound state title last month. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

La Rosa Elementary School fourth-grader Andre Flores will put his perfect 9-0 record on the line when he competes at the Silver Gloves Regional-8 Tournament this week in Compton.

"If you win there, you go to Nationals," said Damian Flores, Andre's father.

Andre advanced to the Regional-8 event after capturing the California State Silver Gloves 65-pound title in Los Angeles this past month.

"I surprised myself," he said. "I've only been in boxing competition for only a year."

Flores won a three-round unanimous decision over Noah Arroyo of Los Angeles on Dec. 4.

"At first I was nervous," Andre said. "When I got in the ring, I felt confident. I landed more solid punches."

"After he won, my anxiety went away," Damian said.

"The kid he boxed wasn't a pushover," said Juan Barrera, one of Andre's coaches. "He was really good. We got to watch him (Arroyo) fight on Saturday. We saw he was a southpaw. We worked with him (Flores) on certain techniques and tactics for the match. Andre did everything he was supposed to do. I wasn't sure things would go our way. Nothing is guaranteed."

Andre placed first in the novice division at the Central California Association Jr. Olympics in Fresno.

Flores is a member of the Modesto Red Shield Center's Boxing Club.

"He's the youngest kid in our class," Barrera said. "He sets a great example for the older kids. He has a lot of heart. That's something you're born with. He's got a lot of strength for his age. He's also smart. He's an honor-roll student in Ceres."

"When he gets in the ring, he's real focused," Damian said. "He's like that in every sport he plays. You can't teach that. He's gifted. He's disciplined. He's really humble."

"It (boxing) made me more disciplined and more focused," Andre said. "And I had to change my eating habits. It's very hard. I train every day, five days a week. I'm proud of myself and thankful for my coaches and parents."