A Jan. 28 fight against Hugo Pineda is just a keep-busy bout for NABO Cruiserweight champion BJ Flores, but while the 32-year-old cruiserweight contender (26-1-1, 16 knockouts) is okay with keeping busy, he wants that activity to lead him to a world title shot.
Flores spoke with BoxingScene.com about his upcoming bout, about what he’s doing to remain active (including promoting shows in his hometown), about which cruiserweight titleholder he’d like to challenge and what he wants to do before entertaining any thoughts of moving up to heavyweight.
BoxingScene.com: What are you looking to get out of this fight?
Flores: “To be honest with you, it’s just another fight. This will be my third fight in six months. I faced Nick Iannuzzi, Paul Jennette — a guy I’d never even heard of — and now we’re trying to target another top 10 North American guy. And it just didn’t happen. They just don’t want to fight.
“A lot of them are kind of holding out for what they think might be a title opportunity or something, or they just don’t want to fight in my hometown. They think it’s too risky of a fight. This is a time to take what I can get. It’s going to get me back in the ring and it’s going to keep me sharp. Like I said, it’s my third 10-round fight in a six-month period. We’re kind of putting to bed those rumors of not being able to fight, not wanting to fight. I love to fight.
“Now that I’m with Don King, I’ve got an extra little bounce in my step. They’re helping me promote the show. We’ve also got Cory spinks and Sechew Powell in an IBF eliminator in the co-main event. Wayne Braithwaite vs. Chris Stallworth is another special attraction. So we’ve got a fantastic card shaking up.”
BoxingScene.com: You said you’re putting to bed the rumors of not being able to fight. It does seems that there are Don King fighters who just don’t get in the ring that often anymore. You’re saying that, in your case, that’s not the case?
Flores: “Not at all. This is the thing. Don maybe doesn’t have as many dates as he used to have. That’s just boxing these days. So his fighters nowadays, we’ve got to be creative and go out and develop a home base, somewhere where you can fight and the promoter doesn’t have to do all the work every single time and just put you on a card and lose money.
“When I fight at home in Springfield, it doesn’t cost Don any money. I make money with the tickets I sell, and he can put his fighters on the undercard. It’s great for me. He does still have those big dates. He can still get me the big ones, but it’s not as frequent as it used to be. So I’m a team player. I’m all about helping out.
“Me and my team, our guys, we put in a lot of work to make sure that we can build up my home state of Missouri. Springfield, Mo., is turning into a fight town. This’ll be our third show in six months. It’s an exciting time. Don is very willing to help out. We’re helping each other out. It’s a great thing.”
BoxingScene.com: How much distraction is there for you, running this show for Jan. 28 and also getting ready to do commentary Jan. 21 for the NBC Sports Network boxing broadcast?
Flores: “I enjoy staying busy. The prepping for the show, we teamed up with local promoters here, so he does a lot of the legwork and groundwork, I just kind of oversee everything. I really don’t have to do much — make some appearances here and there, set a couple of things up in the beginning. Since then, we’ve just pretty much been training. The broadcast doesn’t affect me at all. I’ve got all day to train. … And if you plan out your day effectively, you’ve got plenty of time.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you hope to accomplish in 2012?
Flores: “I just hope to continue to stay active, if I don’t get a title fight. I’m ranked [No. 4] by the WBO, No. 7 by the WBA and No. 8 by the WBC. I just want to continue to move up the ratings and whatever opportunity I have as soon as possible to fight for a world championship, that’s obviously what I want. This will be my third fight in six months. I feel like my timing is back, my reflexes are back.
“A long layoff is any fighter’s downfall. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t shooting myself in the foot before I went into a big fight. Everybody’s so good, that if you’re not active, you’re really doing a huge, huge disservice to yourself. That’s how it was when I fought Danny Green. I was coming off a 16-month layoff. I had to weigh 195 pounds for the fight. He wanted to handicap for me. I want to make sure the next opportunity I get that I’m 100 percent. We’re doing the right thing by staying active.”
BoxingScene.com: Of the major world titleholders, is there somebody specific that you want?
Flores: “To be honest with you, Marco Huck is the guy that I really want, but now he has the fight with [heavyweight beltholder Alexander] Povektin. I hope he wins that fight with Povetkin, so the WBO title can become vacant. That’s where I’m ranked the highest, so hopefully I’ll be in position to fight for that vacant belt.
“I also want Krzysztof Wlodarczyk. I think, style-wise, I match up with him really well. He’s coming off a big win over Danny Green, a fight that he was losing by four points until he scored the knockout. I think that’d be a great stylistic match-up. That’s the guy I would absolutely love to fight.”
BoxingScene.com: You’re mentioning other cruiserweights. Every other cruiserweight under the sun seems to have heavyweight aspirations. Are we going to count you someday among those ranks, too?
Flores: “I think there’s way too much unfinished business at cruiserweight. I don’t want to talk about moving ahead until I handle the business here. There’s just not enough name guys in the states to really be able to stay active and fight name guys, so I’ve got to stay busy fighting whoever I can find pretty much in America to keep me busy and keep me sharp until I get the big fight.
“But once I get that title, once I defend it a time or two, then we can talk about that, but I’m not even thinking about that until I accomplish my goals at cruiserweight, which is to win one of four major world titles. I will not go to heavyweight until that happens. That’s a guarantee.”
by David P. Greisman