I recently had a chance to speak with cruiserweight contender and NBC Sports analyst, BJ Flores, ahead of his upcoming bout with Kevin Engel that takes place this Wednesday on ESPN. In this interview, BJ talks about his last victory in the ring and discusses the challenge he has ahead of him this Wednesday night. BJ Flores also shared his views on the Sam Soliman vs. Jermain Taylor fight that is headlining the ESPN card. Additionally, BJ gave his thoughts on Manny Pacquiao’s upcoming fight with Chris Algieri. Here is what BJ Flores had to say.
Robert Brown: You’re coming off a unanimous decision win over Anthony Caputo Smith at the Hard Rock casino in Las Vegas. What are your plans now and who are you targeting?
BJ Flores: Well I fight this Wednesday on the ESPN card, the Jermain Taylor-Sam Soliman card. The fight at the Hard Rock, I injured my left hand in the second round so I won an eight round unanimous decision over a tough guy — a guy I probably should have stopped, but the hand injury made it very difficult. I did two months of rehab and I’m one hundred percent now.
I’m just looking forward to moving to the next step, which is the fight this Wednesday. It’s a great card, it’s an ESPN card and I’m looking forward to just going out there and putting on an impressive performance on Wednesday.
Robert Brown: Sam Soliman versus Jermain Taylor, what are your thoughts on that fight?
BJ Flores: I think it’s a good fight, I think seeing as Jermain Taylor has really struggled with big punchers, Carl Froch, Arthur Abraham, some of the guys like that have given him the most problems but I don’t think Sam is a huge puncher. He’s very busy, very accurate, he’s very physically strong, he’s in great shape but I think Jermain deals with those kinds of things a lot better than he deals with that one punch concussive power.
I think Jermain’s management team targeted Sam Soliman and they’re going after him and they think their man can beat him — whether he can, that’s another story because Sam Soliman is very tough, very good, but he definitely can be beaten.
I think Sam is coming into his own right now, he’s got a lot of confidence after his Felix Sturm victory, and I think he really likes his chances in this fight. Sometimes if you give a fighter confidence, that’s all they need to beat a guy. I think between Sam and Jermain it’s gonna be a good fight. I think if Jermain keeps him on the outside and boxes him and controls him with the jab, I think he’ll win the fight. I think if he fights Sam’s fight, then I think Sam can make it real messy for him
Robert Brown: What’s your prediction for that fight?
BJ Flores: My prediction would probably be Jermain Taylor by decision, but it’s not a clear thing for me by any means, Sam Soliman can win that fight. Even though Jermain is coming off a lot of different things, I still think he’s the harder puncher, I think he’s the better boxer but there’s so many intangibles that Sam has better than him.
Sam takes a shot better I think. Sam is comfortable being on the inside, he’s comfortable making it messy, he could be in better shape, his activities been better. Each guy has things that are advantages for them, it’s just who’s going to dictate their pace and their gameplan in the fight, I think it just comes down to that.
Robert Brown: Tony Bellew and Nathan Cleverly are going to be fighting again. What are your thoughts on that fight?
BJ Flores: I think it’s a great fight. It’s a great domestic fight. People over in England are very excited about it. It’s two guys moving up from light heavyweight and they both draw good crowds.
They’re both very popular and both guys have targeted one another and said, “Listen I’m gonna kick you out of my division and kick you out of my country and I want everyone to know that I’m the best cruiserweight in England.” I think it’s a good fight, it’s an exciting fight and it’s a fight that I might try to attend myself to make sure that I can call out the winner.
Robert Brown: Who do you think will win that fight?
BJ Flores: I don’t know, I like Bellew’s size. I just like Bellew more in the fight to be honest with you. I think Cleverly can’t be written off, he’s very accurate, he’s in good shape and he’s gonna press the action. I think Bellew is very easy to hit with right hands, I think he drags a lot of his punches and he doesn’t move his head too much.
I think if Cleverly has a good gameplan, and he moves to his right and he takes away the Bellew jab, I think he can beat him. If he doesn’t do those things, I think it’s gonna be rough for him because Bellew is probably the harder puncher and he’s the bigger guy and Nathan’s not necessarily a boxer, he tries to come close and swarm you and I think Bellew’s power can give him a bit of trouble if he doesn’t have the right gameplan.
Robert Brown: So you will be looking to fight the winner?
BJ Flores: Not necessarily fight the winner, but that’s someone that I’m very interested in if I don’t get a world title shot by then. I leave that up to my management team. I’m gonna win this fight on Wednesday and sit back and see what the best opportunity is and whenever it comes up, I’ll take it, whatever it is.
Robert Brown: Al Haymon has made a deal with NBC, what are your thoughts on that?
BJ Flores: I love working for NBC. What I’ve heard about the Al Haymon deal I’m not really allowed to comment on because as of now NBC is still in contract with Main Events and I’m not exactly sure how it’s gonna play out.
If it looks like Al is gonna be doing all these shows next year, it’s kind of a sad situation because Kathy Duva and Main Events have done such a great job, they’ve done a fantastic job with NBC and with the network fights. It’s too bad for them, but in boxing, it’s survival of the fittest.
Al Haymon is bringing the bigger market, he’s bringing a bigger package, a bigger group of fighters, a bigger everything and it’s just very tough for Main Events and their stable to compete with an Al Haymon stable — it’s tough for any promoter to deal with an Al Haymon stable.
It’s unfortunate for Main Events and they’re great people and I’m sure they’re gonna be fine and I wish them the best. That’s really all I got to comment on right now because I just don’t know exactly how it’s gonna play out next year. I think Main Events did a tremendous job for the first three years and I was very glad to work with them. I’m sure whoever I’m working with in the future, I’m sure it will be more of the same.
Robert Brown: Manny Pacquiao is coming up against Chris Algieri. Chris doesn’t seem like much of a threat to Manny Pacquiao most people think. What are your thoughts?
BJ Flores: I think it’s gonna be interesting as far as Chris Algieri moving up from 140 to 147lbs, I think that’s gonna be the main thing that’s interesting about it. Chris is bigger than Manny, but he hasn’t faced the level of opposition at all like Manny Pacquiao has. It’s gonna be a huge step up for Chris.
I like Manny in the fight but I think either way Chris comes out of it a winner because he’s making a career high purse and he’s making a showing on a major network. I think a lot of people are gonna know Chris after this. I don’t think it’s gonna be a non competitive fight, I just like Manny in the fight. It’s a win-win situation for Chris because he can’t lose anything, because everyone thinks he’s gonna lose already. He has nothing to lose.
Robert Brown: Do you think Manny can break his KO drought in this fight or do you think it’s going to be a decision win?
BJ Flores: Manny hasn’t KO’d anybody in quite some time. I don’t know if he can KO Chris or not, but I think he definitely can put some hurt on him. He can, I’m not saying that he can’t do it, I’m just saying that I’m not gonna say he will or not. Manny is fine winning decisions and all of his last fights have gone the distance, so it could very well go the distance.