Joseph Santoliquito

Flores happy to be out of ‘boxing limbo,’ fights Saturday

 

BJ Flores was in boxing purgatory – that limo area where fighters wait for fights as their names slowly dissipate from the minds of the fans – for more than a year.

The once-beaten cruiserweight standout didn’t like it. And although Flores was thankful for his color analyst roles on boxing broadcasts, such as his frequent in-studio guest appearances on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights, it burned him to know that TV executives were becoming more familiar with him as a commentator than as a fighter.

The 32-year-old veteran broke out of purgatory last year, ending his dry spell from August 2009 to November 2010, and he continues to reestablish himself as an active fighter this Saturday, when takes on Hugo Pineda in the co-feature to Cory Spinks-Sechew Powell at the Shrine Mosque, in Springfield, Missouri, where Flores grew up.

“It’s great to be back,” said Flores (26-1-1, 16 knockouts), whose own company Danger Boy Events is co-promoting Saturday’s show with Don King.

Flores, whose fight with Pineda, a 6-foot-1 former 140-pound and welterweight title challenger, will be his third in the last six months, drew accolades for his color work on NBC Sports Networks’ inaugural broadcast of Fight Night last Saturday.

Broadcasting is a passion, Flores admits, but it’s an endeavor he’d like to separate himself from, just slightly.

“The ringside broadcasting has been great, and I do really enjoy it, it’s a great platform to show my knowledge and convey that to fans, but first things first, I’m a fighter,” Flores stressed. “I’ve been active now fighting on a regular basis, and I’m looking for that fight that puts me in the right direction.

“I’ve gotten great feedback with the commentating, but I have plenty of unfinished business in the ring. I still want to accomplish some childhood dreams, and I won’t rest until I get that opportunity. I want to fight for a world cruiserweight championship when I’m sharp, in shape and ready. Not like before.”

Flores is referrring to 12-round unanimous decision loss to then-IBO titleholder Danny Green, in Australia, in November of 2010. Flores had just broken free from a contract he had with Roy Jones’ Square Ring Promotions.

“They didn’t do anything,” Flores maintains. “I was going absolutely crazy for a year. I fought for [Square Ring] twice on two of their cards they promoted, without any contractual commitment.

“At the time, I’m 30 years old and rated No. 2 in the WBO. I got skipped right over by No. 4 Marco Huck in August of 2009 and he was behind me. Huck beats Victor Ramirez for the WBO belt and I’m stuck with nothing. You know you hear about it, but you don’t want to believe it, that it just shows to me that the dollars make all the decisions, and the right connections with the promoters in this business get you title fights. It’s not about talent. It’s not about fights and fighters. It’s the most misconstrued thing out there. The truth of it is in boxing: business is 90-percent of it, and the fight itself is 10-percent of it.”

Pineda (39-5-1, 28 KOs) has a high knockout percentage, but most of that damage was done as a junior welterweight in the beginning of his career. Now the rangy Colombian is near the end of his career and hanging on for pay days. He’s lost three of his last four, and four of his last seven fights.

And Flores knows the reality of what’s “supposed” to happen.

“But he’s still someone I have to take seriously, to be honest. I do know the reality, I know where he’s coming from and I know he’s not on my level,” Flores said.

“Glen Johnson stopped him in eight rounds two fights ago. Pineda is a tough guy, I look to get him out real fast and show him that he’s in the wrong weight class. Then the goal is I would like to fight again—and soon. I had some hand problems for a little bit there, and they’ve gone away. I would like to fight again in late May, maybe early June. This is what I have to do; as a cruiserweight in America, this is what I have to do to stay busy. I have to remain active to get another title shot. That’s because it’s very difficult to fight as a cruiserweight in America, and I ask people, beside Steve Cunningham, who’s going to name me an American cruiserweight?”

In the meantime, Flores still plans on pursuing “that other thing” he does. It all started as a guest appearance on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights in April 2008, a few months after he beat Darnell Wilson on the network. Nick Davis, who was the Friday Night Fights producer at the time, thought Flores was a natural and asked him back on the air. For the 2009 Friday Night Fights season, Flores was a rotating guest host with Bernie Osuna, Bernard Hopkins and Dan Rafael. After ESPN changed its format, Flores was picked up by Versus for the World Series of Boxing, and when Versus became NBC Sports Network and began Fight Night, Flores seemed a natural fit.

“I signed the deal with NBC about a month ago, and they had me on the air that Saturday; it’s a tribute to some of the steps I’ve taken in my career,” Flores said. “I feel good, very, very comfortable on the air. It’s worked out extremely well. I was advised to go out there and be me. They want me back. I want to model myself after Bobby Czyz, an eloquent, sharp, bright, intelligent guy who also happened to be a good boxer.”

But Flores still has a few more fights in him before he makes that other commitment at ringside.

 

Photos / Fightwireimages.com and BJ Flores

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