Six months ago the middleweight division was one of the bleakest in the sport, but now with the inclusion of three mega stars - Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya and Ricardo Mayorga - and two super fights on the horizon, the middleweight division is again in the spotlight and feeling a glare that has not shone upon it since the late 80’s when greats such as Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler operated in the prestigious 160 pound division.
Hopkins-De La Hoya is the fight that is grabbing more headlines, and understandably so. This fight is for the undisputed middleweight championship of the world, not to mention being blessed with the golden marketing touch of Oscar De La Hoya. But from where I’m sitting, the Trinidad-Mayorga fight is the one that looks certain to be sparking the most fireworks, inside the ring at least. With the winner likely to face the victor of the Hopkins-De La Hoya match-up, fight fans are already drooling over a rematch between Trinidad and Hopkins, or Trinidad and De La Hoya, and that’s not just in Puerto Rico.
One thing I have learnt over the years watching boxing and sport in general is that you don’t make stubborn predictions when there is the inclusion of something - or in this case, someone - as unpredictable as the cigarette smoking, alcohol consuming clubber Ricardo 'El Matador' Mayorga.
I believe it was celebrity criminal Mark ‘Chopper’ Read who once said something along the lines of "in jail, nothing is more dangerous than a psycho". I will concede none of the participants in this year's middleweight carnival are likely to see the cold vertical bars of jail, but what they will be seeing is the just as unforgiving horizontal ropes of the boxing ring.
Now as I have never been blessed with Ricardo Mayorga’s company I can not comment on his mental state outside of the ropes, but I am sure he is a quite possibly a normal smart guy. But inside the ropes, I have never seen anything quite as unconventional, weird and insane as the antics Mayorga gets up to. When watching Mayorga’s punches, especially that clubbing right hand, it is clear this guy has never really payed attention to the conventional 'do’s' and 'don’ts' of the boxing game.
He knows nothing of any boxing style, yet is cocky enough to strut around the ring like he owns the place, as well as the opponent across from him. But what is even more bizarre is that 99% he does ‘own’ his opponents (and after all, he does ‘own’ a couple of world championship belts). Sometimes you have to think outside of the square to get to pinnacle of something, and while Mayorga may not have thought about things thoroughly to get to this point, he has definitely fought and barraged through top grade guys like Vernon Forrest and Andrew ‘Six Heads’ Lewis. Actions speak louder than words.
Mayorga fights like a freight train. He just keeps coming and coming until he finally gets where he wants to be, which is standing over the prone and prostrate form of his flattened opponent. In the second half of their rematch, Vernon Forrest demonstrated the best way to avoid Mayorga’s mayhem is to stick and move out of his way, and Cory Spinks elaborated on this theory when he boxed his way to a majority decision victory over Mayorga last December. But the one problem for Trinidad is the problem that makes this fight as intriguing as it is. Felix Trinidad doesn’t stick and move; he stays and unloads.
And after two years of inactivity, it is certain this will not allow an old dog like Felix Trinidad to perform any new tricks come October. Unlike Mayorga, Trinidad blasts amazing power through precise and impressive punching. So what’s going to happen when these two men collide? ‘Explosions’ would be a good answer, as is ‘Fight Of The Year’. But you can be certain my jaw will not be dropping should Mayorga’s hand be raised at the end of the night.
Mayorga’s intimidating and intensive pressure is something Felix Trinidad has never seen before, and two years worth of ring rust will only make the situation even more overwhelming for the pride of Puerto Rico. Ricardo Mayorga is not going to give Trinidad a second to warm back into boxing; he will not going to give Trinidad an inch to get comfortable in his comeback. The question now is how much will all this inactivity and ring rust affect Trinidad? Nothing less than his best will beat a guy like Ricardo Mayorga.
To me, Mayorga looks like a villain perfectly cast to shatter Felix Trinidad’s fairy tale comeback. But is he capable of beating the undisputed world middleweight champion, the winner of the Bernard Hopkins and Oscar De La Hoya match up, sometime next year and become the unlikely hero?
Nicaraguans have their fingers crossed, but Mayorga may not need as much luck as you think. He’s got the tenacity, the determination, the courage and the power, and he applies more than enough pressure to beat the best fighters in the world.
And with ‘El Matador’ seeing red at 160, you better strap in, because it’s going to be one hell of a ride!
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