Those grains of sand are slowly dropping down the hourglass for 34-year-old Carlos Bojorquez.

A win or loss will decide the Mira Loma, Californian’s fate on June 29, Thursday at the San Manuel Casino when he meets Detroit’s Marlon “Trouble Man” Thomas (35-6-1, 21 KOs) in a junior middleweight bout.

If Bojorquez loses, he retires.

“I have to win, it’s very important for me,” Bojorquez said.

A wise man once said professional boxing is the one sport in the world that being anything but an A-level fighter means getting your brains bashed in. It’s not tennis or golf where being in the top 100 is still good.

For Bojorquez, the fighter known as “El Elegante,” being a B-plus fighter has meant engaging against some of the most fearsome prizefighters in the planet including Ike Quartey, Kassim Ouma and Verno Phillips. But that’s how he likes it.

“I was supposed to fight Teddy Reid, but he don’t want to fight me,” said Bojorquez (25-8-6, 21 KOs) who is widely known as a tough guy willing to trade bombs with anyone. “They asked me who I wanted to fight, I told them I don’t care.”

Tough guys like Bojorquez are insulted if you give them a choice. In their world it’s not very macho to pick and choose.

“This is an even fight,” said Patrick Ortiz, whose Ringside Tickets Promotions along with the San Manuel Casino are sponsoring the fight card. “Any time you face a Kronk fighter nine times out of 10 he’s ready for anybody.

“I’ll fight anybody,” said Bojorquez, who spent the month of March helping Ouma in Texas prepare for a 12-round match against Marco Antonio Rubio.

That reckless lack of concern has always been part of his prizefighting personality.

Bojorquez grew up in a small town outside of Los Mochis, Mexico. As a teen he ran away from home on a dare to hitch a ride to the United States. He loved adventure and daring even back then.

Boxing had always been a love for the Mexican-born Bojorquez. His brother had boxed and many others in his town loved the sport. Once he settled in northern California he sought out a boxing gym to give it a try.

“There were not many Mexicans my size to train,” said Bojorquez, who always fought at the middleweight level. “I would hit the bag and go home.”

He entered numerous amateur tournaments but few middleweights were available so he wound up winning a few trophies without lifting a glove. He got lazy.

“One day I entered this tournament and they had some guys for me to fight,” said Bojorquez laughing. “I got beat. I was out of shape.”

From that day on he vowed to never be unprepared.

Not blessed with blazing hand speed or the agility of a gazelle, what Bojorquez does possess is a world-class chin and fists that could knock out a heavyweight.

Two years ago, with less than a week’s notice, Bojorquez was asked to fill in for Ouma who suffered an injury before a junior middleweight title fight. Because he was within four pounds of the required weight limit, he took the fight and eventually lost to Phillips. It was his only chance for a world title. He wants another.

This time, however, he enters the ring without his longtime running partner Willy Silva. Silva quit after the loss to Quartey.

“I don’t want Carlos to fight any more,” said Silva, who served as his trainer and manager from 1997 until last December. “He got hit too much in his last fight.”

Silva wanted Bojorquez to retire after getting hammered for 10 rounds against Quartey. Though Bojorquez was never dropped, he received many punches and was unable to land his usual amount in return.

“I’m not mad at Willy,” said Bojorquez. “He was good to me.”

What drives Bojorquez toward one more title shot is his son Maximiliano Bojorquez, 3, who he dotes over.

“I want to do something for my boy,” he said. “I’m not a doctor or a lawyer, all I have are these fists to try to make money.”

Getting one more world title shot is all he wants.

“I don’t know why I haven’t had more opportunities. I give everyone a good fight,” says Bojorquez who is now trained by Ruben Castanon and advised by Eddie Jordan. “I guess I’m unlucky.”

Lucky or not, Bojorquez meets another fighter much like himself in Thomas. There can be only one winner.

For tickets or information call (800) 359-2464.

Other bouts

A match between two junior middleweights Allan Velasco (4-0-1) and Arron Robinson (3-1-1), who both actually fight at welterweight, could be a great contest on the undercard.

Azusa’s Velasco has proven to be a solid boxer who, despite his lack of professional fights, does most things correctly inside the ring. He’s a compact puncher who knows how to counter. He doesn’t possess great speed or power, but has surprising technique for a boxer with only four pro fights at age 30.

Robinson, 20, comes from South Central Los Angeles with a lot of energy and a gung ho attitude. He’s trained by Kevin Morgan and has had problems finding opponents in the California area. People just don’t want to fight Robinson with his long arms and cracking fists. Though the LA fighter is quick, strong and takes a good punch, he’s still in the early learning process. If anyone wants to fight this guy they should do it now before he really learns how to fight. Right now he’s a natural fighter who eats up mediocrity.

The bout is scheduled for six rounds.

In a super middleweight bout Luis Lopez (11-6, 5 KOs), a super middleweight out of Washington, meets Paul Avitea (12-6, 9 KOs) of Mexico who is trying to break a five fight-losing streak. All of those losses were to quality fighters including Armando Velardez Jr., Rodney Jones, Vince Phillips, and Marco Antonio Rubio.

Inland Empire fighters

For those not familiar with the Inland Empire, it’s an area in Southern California located east of Los Angeles County. It comprises San Bernardino and Riverside County and is larger than some states in area. From Pomona (a city actually in L.A. County but included by most to be part of the Inland Empire) to the Nevada border, and from San Diego County to Yorba Linda, the Inland Empire has grown rapidly in the last 10 years from 1.5 million to more than 3 million people. And during that time the hunger for boxing has also caused the emergence of more than 30 boxing gyms. The most famous of the gyms are the Coachella Boxing Club, Indio Boxing Club, Lincoln Boxing Club, Meadowbrook Boxing Club, Willy Silva’s Gym, Casa Blanca Boxing Club, Redlands YMCA, Fists of Gold in Pomona, Chino Boxing Club, Fontana Boxing Club and numerous others.

With hundreds of amateurs filtering through the many boxing gyms the boxing world will see more and more of the results.

Right now, there are many professional boxers coming out of the Inland Empire or the “I.E.” as the locals call it. The area codes “909”, “951” and “760” are the different parts of the I.E.

Here is a roster of current I.E. top prizefighters:

Carlos Bojorquez, 34, is the dean of Inland Empire fighters and has fought too many elite fighters to name. His most famous conquest was Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker and his last fight came against Ike “Bazooka” Quartey in a gallant but losing effort. He lives in Mira Loma, a small rural neighborhood near Riverside, California.

Mark Suarez, 27, is currently ranked number one by the IBF as a welterweight. Since moving up to welterweights, Suarez has stopped seven consecutive opponents and is eager to meet for the world title. Known as “Poison,” the Riverside, California fighter can box or punch. His most famous wins came against James “Spyder” Webb, Viktor Sydorenko and Jason Papillon in big fight cards in New York City and Las Vegas. He’s probably the most underrated welterweight in the world.

Antonio “Tono” Diaz, 30, is the older brother of Julio and veteran of many engagements against elite fighters. His most famous conquests were Cory Spinks, Micky Ward and Emanuel Augustus. He captured the IBA world title but was unsuccessful against Antonio Margarito for the WBO and Shane Mosley for the WBC. He retired once, fought twice and has not reemerged since last August. But when he fought he was one of the top junior welterweights in the world. He lives in Coachella, a small agricultural town near Palm Springs, California.

Julio “The Kidd” Diaz, 26, is the youngest of the fighting Diaz brothers of Coachella. He captured the IBF lightweight world title from Javier Jauregui and eagerly agreed to attempt unification against Jose Luis Castillo. He lost, but has returned with more vigor and is now in line to meet current lightweight champ Jesus Chavez for the IBF belt.

Fernando “Bobby Boy” Velardez, 25, fought for the featherweight world title against Erik “El Terrible” Morales. He’s as game as they come. Velardez has not fought since knocking out Mike Juarez in two rounds. No one is tougher than Bobby Boy.

Armando Velardez Jr., 26, is the oldest of the fighting Velardez brothers out of San Bernardino, California. His most famous conquests were Matt Vanda and Ian McKillop. He fought well in losing to David Estrada and Quandaray Robertson. He hasn’t lost a fight in three years now and now boxes as a junior middleweight.

Eddie Sanchez, 30, made his biggest impact on national television when he stepped in for an injured fighter with one-day notice and beat J.C. Candelo. He’s also beaten Jose Celaya and Ishwar Amador. He’s a middleweight whose long arms and surprising power can make trouble for any opponent.

Another fighter from the I.E. not mentioned is Sugar Shane Mosley. He’s won world titles in three weight classes and was the first to beat Oscar De La Hoya twice. He trains in Big Bear Lake, which is located in the I.E. He’s currently preparing for his rematch against Fernando Vargas.