ESB Exclusive Interview: B.J. Flores, Changing Perceptions


31.05.06 – By Troy Ondrizek: B.J. Flores has followed a unique path to become the man and fighter he is today. Now most young fighters have overcome certain obstacles en route to molding their characters and careers, but B.J. Flores didn’t overcome, he conquered, and not in the sense one might think. His character isn’t based on adversity, at least not in the normal sense of his own, Flores didn’t conquer personal demons, but by conquering the perceived notions of what a fighter and young man should be; B.J. is forcing us to sit back and think of what it means to be a fighter. When we talk about the backgrounds of most young fighters, we like to highlight their darkest moments, and celebrate those who have overcome insurmountable odds to become successful, but what about those who have overcome what makes some complacent and unappreciative and who gives back to those less fortunate and succeeds not just in their own life, but has helped others succeed in the process. B.J. Flores never faced poverty, at least not his own, he has always had education, he went to Arizona State University, and his family has always been there for him. B.J. didn’t need to learn boxing to protect himself or to earn a living. In fact Flores comes from a pugilistic family that carries on a tradition that his grandfather, Ralph Flores, started. Flores, before going to college was a religious missionary down in Mexico. Even though the mission trip is vital in the growth of his faith, Flores wasn’t forced to give up two years of his life to help others..

B.J. conquered what makes so many of us comfortable, established middle-class, and found passion and drive in a world of complacency. To go along with his achievements outside of the ring, B.J. has found considerable success in it. B.J. was a two-time national heavyweight champion, and has gone on to sport a respectable record of 16-0-1 (11KO’s), most of which in the heavyweight division. B.J. took the time to talk with ESB and give us his insight to his career and the sport he loves.

Troy: Hey B.J. what’s up man, nice to talk to you again.

B.J.: “Hey Troy what’s up? It’s nice to be able to talk to you and ESB.”

Troy: First off, why did you move down to the Cruiserweight division?

B.J.: “To be honest, it’s a much more natural weight for me. I won the 2001, and 2002 national at heavyweight, which is 179 to 200lbs. I like that weight and I am strong at that weight. Main events convinced me though to fight at heavyweight, and I had success there, but now I am at a more natural weight for me, and I feel better.”

Troy: Is that why you broke from Main Events?

B.J.: “No and yes. I mean they had different ideas for my career than I did. They wanted me at heavyweight and I can see their point, but I would much rather fight at the weight I feel comfortable with. They felt we could make some money at heavyweight and that is true, but I felt it wasn’t best for me now. We parted on good terms. There is no animosity on either side.”

Troy: So you are a promotional free agent, who are you going to sign with next?

B.J.: “We are talking with several different companies. Golden Boy is definitely in the picture, as is Silverhawk. Don King got a hold of us yesterday and is interested in creating some things. I have my favorite but I’ll keep that to myself until the best decision can be made.”

Troy: Far be it from me to tell you how to run your career, but you say Don King and I cringe.

B.J.: (laughing) “I know how you guys are, and I can understand, but Don King is very interested in Spanish fighters, and heavyweight guys. I am one of only a few big Spanish fighters, so that’s why he is so interested. King can make things happen, but I’ll do what is best for my future. Like I told you, I have my favorite.”

Troy: Was there anything about the heavyweight division that made the decision to move down difficult?

B.J.: (emphatically) “Yes. I miss being able to eat what I want. I now remember why I didn’t like boxing as a kid. I always had to eat the right things and make a certain weight. I now have to do this again, and I tell you what Troy, I was one crabby man during my last camp. All I wanted to do was eat, and I felt like I was starving. It is best for me to eat healthy, and it’s not like I had to lose a lot of weight, but I miss my food. Plus to be honest, the money isn’t the same. It’s not always about money, but there is a difference between the divisions. I plan for that to change once I beat some good fighters in the ring.”

Troy: Do you feel that the cruiserweight division has more to offer than the heavyweight division?

B.J.: “Yes, there are a lot of good names and fighters in the division. These guys are willing to fight each other and put on great fights for the fans. Unlike the heavyweight division, there is a unified champ. I take my hat off to O’Neil Bell for beating the man. Obviously Bell came out with a plan and scored a 10th round TKO. He is the guy we are all gunning for, and I want his belts. In time I will be ready and I am willing to fight anyone I need to achieve my goal of being world champion.”

Troy: That leads me to my next question. How long until your ready to step in with the likes of Bell, Jones, and Haye?

B.J.: “Haye is a big fight in the future. We both could do a lot for the division for years to come. If I have a belt and Haye has a belt, then the fight could be huge. We could do it in England and grab a totally global audience. We both have great amateur backgrounds, and both are skilled fighters, this is the fight I definitely want in the future. I plan to fight a couple of top ten guys and go for the winner of Jones/Cunningham. Before that fight I plan to be the number contender or to be ranked high by the IBF. I will be looking to fight the winner of Chris Thomas and Emmanuel Nwodo for the USBA title to help me climb in the rankings. I also would like to fight Matt Godfrey. He is a good fighter who knocked out Shaun George recently. Godfrey isn’t a power puncher, but he is a skilled boxer who most importantly is an accurate puncher, and that’s how he got George out of there in the first round. Godfrey got him on the chin with an accurate right, and he caught George cold. I tell you Troy, the same won’t happen to me with Godfrey. I feel Matt and I have a bright future together in this division, and we will help continue the newly found credibility of the cruiserweight division.”

Troy: You are going for the IBF? They have been a little questionable of late regarding their credibility. I mean they stripped Bell of his title after only a month.

B.J.: “You have a valid point Troy, but I’m not going to question their practices. As long as I follow the guidelines, it is the fastest way for me to become champion. It doesn’t seem like Bell is in a hurry to fight. He could’ve done well to fight again, and not wait for the million dollar fight, but who am I to question anyone’s career, let alone a champion.”

Troy: You and Vassily Jirov both fight out of Phoenix, is there a chance that you two will meet in the ring?

B.J.: “We have sparred together and I felt great afterwards. The fight has been offered before, I would’ve taken it, but the other party involved doesn’t feel it’s the best fight at this time. I would love to fight him. There is no bigger name I could get on my resume than Jirov. I mean he is a respected champion and a great fighter who is well known around the world for his amateur accomplishments and how well he has fought as a professional. I have total respect for Jirov and if the opportunity arises at the proper time, I would take the fight.”

Troy: You have talked about wining the title, so what makes you feel that you’re the best fighter in such a deep division?

B.J.: “I’m not the best, not yet. I must prove it in the ring. I don’t feel totally comfortable with bragging but I have to show I deserve to be considered a good fighter. I have spared the best fighters in the world here in phoenix and in Vegas. I have sparred with Chris Byrd, Sergei Liakhovich, Vassily Jirov, Ruslan Chagaev, and Montel Grififn to name some, and I have more than held my own. I know it’s sparring, but it helps my technique and it builds confidence and experience. I had an amateur record of 110-9 and I know I have the skills at 200lbs to dominate. I feel strong and I have the physical strength coming down from heavyweight to be able to hang in there with anybody. In the heavyweight division I had to outbox my opponents more and I wasn’t able to be aggressive like I like. I can still turn to my boxing skills if I need to, but I like knocking people out and putting on good shows for the fans.”

Troy: When can we expect to see you back in the ring, and against whom?

B.J.: “A tentative date of July 7th on Friday Night Fights is my goal. I don’t know who the opponent will be. I trust my management team, and I will destroy whoever they put in front of me.”

Troy: With the cruiserweight division just now getting respect after 25 years of being the outcast. Do you see yourself spending the rest of your career in this division, or is there an eventual return to the heavyweight division?

B.J.: ‘No, I see myself eventually moving back up. But why worry about the heavyweight division when I haven’t taken care of business yet in this division. I won’t move back until I at least have become world champion. This is the best division for the fans. I mean the heavyweights are always going to be the main attraction, but we can knock each other out with one punch as well and we don’t get near as fatigued. There are great fighters willing to fight each other, and the talent to sustain the division is there. I do though want to take care of unfinished business eventually, but right now my goal is to take care of the business at hand.”

Troy: In closing B.J., is there anything you want inform our readers and your fans before I let you go?

B.J.: “Yeah Troy I want to thank you and Eastsideboxing for giving me the opportunity to speak with you. I love how you guys have things set up here, I love that the readers can comment on your articles and I go on and read those myself. You’re not a bad writer either so I don’t mind visiting your site. I want to thank those of you who have given me support and are glad that I’m a cruiserweight, and I just want the chance to give you fans good fights that you will enjoy. Expect to see me soon.”

Flores has always been on my radar as a top heavyweight prospect. Now we find him in a deeply talented division and I still feel he is the one to watch. B.J. is a rare individual amongst boxers, articulate, educated, and totally enthralled with the sport and other fighters. We spent most of the time talking about the sport and upcoming fights, and in between I asked him some questions to try to make it formal. It’s nice to hear a fighter young or old, champion or not, refer to themselves as I. I don’t know if I can articulate the annoyance of always talking to those who speak in the third person. The humility goes along with his established character, a potential champion that can actually be a potential role model. B.J. stated that he would love to be a champion like Lamon Brewster, just a good-hearted man. That too is rare. Now I promised B.J. that I would pass on his prediction of Cotto-Malignaggi. Flores officially goes on record of saying that Malignaggi will defeat Cotto by UD. I actually agree, but I am keeping that to myself. I would like to thank B.J. for talking to us, and I personally want to see Haye and Flores fight for belts in the cruiserweight and heavyweight divisions, a man can always dream.