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Flores running out of time to match potential

In this Friday, April 29, 2016 photo, boxing gloves lie on a boxing ring as boxers work out at El Rayo boxing gym in Madrid, Spain. At 84, Manolo del Rio is something of a legend in Spanish boxing circles, having spent more than 65 years training some of the country's best fighters and pledging to keep on going until he drops. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
(AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

BJ Flores looks to rewrite a career of underachievement this weekend, as he challenges Tony Bellew for the WBC cruiserweight championship.

After an underwhelming professional career, the American has the chance to show why he was such a highly touted amateur who was once thought of as the future of the cruiserweight division.

With no technical or physical deficiencies, it seems that Flores’ shortcomings have been his mental strength and determination. In his two biggest fights, against Danny Green and Beibut Shumenov, he seemed content to be competitive without really exerting himself for a chance at victory.

He has done extensive commentary work for television networks, and while he is a talented analyst, his pursuit of the media spotlight would suggest that his focus is not solely on his own sporting career.

Add to that his reported attendance on the nightclub scene, and his playboy image has contributed to the notion that he lacks discipline, something that his former conqueror Danny Green noted to Boxing Scene:

“I’m walking round the MGM and I see Flores a mile off. He’s got about six women hanging around him and he’s loving being the big star. I shouted to him “BJ” and went and said hello.”

“Soon one of the girls asks him something along the lines of, ‘Who’s this guy with the funny accent who knows you? Is he a fighter too?’ And BJ leans forward and in the quietest voice imaginable, ‘Yes, he’s a fighter, too’ and nothing else. He didn’t have the fortitude to say, ‘Yes, we had a fight and he beat me.’

“If you could put together a fighter with my mindset and his body and physical attributes, you’d conquer the world.”

It is a revealing insight from the straight talking Australian, who pinpoints Flores’ achilles heel.

The fight between  Bellew and Flores has been brewing for some time. After goading the Englishman on social media over the last two years, Flores has talked himself into the fight with a slew of comments about Bellew’s ability. As the fight has neared though, Flores’ trash talk has become muted, prompting Bellew to suggest that the American is feeling the nerves.

“He said he doesn’t want to trash talk but — funnily enough — trash talking is what got him the fight,” Bellew told Sporting Life.

“Now all of a sudden the fight’s getting close and he doesn’t want to say a word. I just hope he doesn’t get stage fright because, let me tell you, mate, I don’t get stage fright.”

The matchup is an interesting one stylistically. Whatever technical flaws Bellew has, he makes up for with his passion and determination, and showed in his title-winning effort against Ilunga Makabu that he can get off the floor to win. A former light-heavyweight, Bellew will be at a disadvantage in terms of physical strength against the thick-set Flores, who has campaigned exclusively at 200 pounds.

At age 37, time is running out for Flores to fulfil the potential which once held so much promise. His skills and physical condition are not in question, but he must summon the kind of intestinal fortitude that Bellew is famous for, or risk being remembered as a wasted talent.

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