Thursday, Jan. 22, 2009 | 2 a.m.
It has been a decade since B.J. Flores served as a Mormon missionary in Culiacan, Mexico, but he made quite an impression during his two years there.
Flores did not compete in any sanctioned boxing matches, but on his weekly “P-day” — a day of preparation reserved for non-mission activities — he would spar with local fighters in the region, known to boxing fanatics as the province of Julio Cesar Chavez.
By the time Flores came home from the mission, he had acquired his boxing nickname: “Peligroso,” or “the Dangerous One.”
“They gave that name to me in Mexico because I was sparring with all their guys down there and ended up beating up a lot of their pros,” Flores said.
Four weeks ago, by happenstance, Flores ran into an old friend from Culiacan at Johnny Tocco’s Ringside Gym in Las Vegas.
“He was in Culiacan the same time I was there, but he hadn’t seen me in 10 years,” Flores said. “But right away, he said, ‘Peligroso’ Flores. He remembered me, the nickname, everything, even after all this time. It brought back a lot of good memories.”
Much has happened in Flores’ career since then. Recruited as a football player by Missouri, Colorado, Arizona State and Purdue, Flores opted to focus on boxing, turning pro in Las Vegas in 2003. He has won 21 professional bouts with no losses and one draw, including a couple of minor championships at cruiserweight.
Looking to put himself in position to land a major world championship bout, Flores fights Matt Hicks on Friday in the headliner of a seven-fight card at the Plaza. The weigh-in for the fight card is scheduled for 7 tonight at the First Street Stage at the Fremont Street Experience and is open to the public.
Flores spent part of Wednesday afternoon speaking to students and showing off some boxing moves at an assembly at Von Tobel Middle School in northeast Las Vegas. He shared stories about his life in boxing, stressing the significance of setting goals and working toward achieving them.
“You’re in a molding process right now, where you’re making decisions on a daily basis that will affect the way you live the rest of your lives,” Flores told the students.
“What I want to invite you to do is think about the things you’re happy with in your life, and things you’re not so happy with, and think about one thing you’re going to change today. Think about that one thing in your life that you can do a little better, whether it’s doing better in school or being a better brother or sister.”
Born in San Francisco, Flores was an all-state athlete in track and football while growing up in Springfield, Mo., but boxing has played a big role in his life since his first amateur fight at age 9.
“It was just boxing,” he said. “No knives, no weapons, nothing like that. Mano a mano, one guy against another. Nobody had a weapon. That’s not what being tough is. Two people going against each other in a fair fight, organized, that’s how you really know if someone’s tough. Jumping somebody, or hitting them with something, that’s being a coward.”
Flores, who is also involved with the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization, makes appearances at schools at least a half-dozen times each year, he said.
“Students in junior high and elementary school are at the age when I really like to talk to them,” Flores said. “They’re at a very important age where the decisions they’re making today will have a big effect on them tomorrow, so I try to help them out with that.”
Friday’s fight card, a production of TKO Promotions, Let’s Get It On Promotions and Rattlesnake Events, could be the first of as many as six shows at the Plaza this year.
“By no means is this a one-hit situation,” said Bernie Bahrmasel, spokesman for TKO. “We’d like to come back here every two months. There are a lot of knowledgeable boxing fans here, and if you put on good fights, people will come.”