The Evolution of Ricardo Mayorga
By Coyote Duran (Aug 15, 2005)  
Coyote Duran with Ricardo Mayorga
My, how times change.

Why, wasn't it just a little less than two years ago that Nicaraguan slugger and then-world welterweight champion and now-newly crowned WBC super welterweight titleholder Ricardo Mayorga threatened to make then-IBF welterweight titlist Cory Spinks join his deceased mother?

Wasn't this the same Ricardo Mayorga who windmilled and chopped his way through Vernon Forrest on his way to gaining his Ring Magazine championship and frustrated Forrest into a decision loss in the rematch?

And before that, to gain the WBA welterweight strap, didn't this same Mayorga send Andrew ‘Six Heads’ Lewis into Dreamland, taking away any semblance of heart Lewis had from that point on?


Fast-forward to August 2005, Chicago, Illinois right after the Hasim Rahman-Monte Barrett main event (televised by Showtime Pay-Per-View), Saturday night. Ricardo Mayorga takes his seat on the dais at the post-fight presser with a shiny new green belt and a bigger smile to match. He's joking and whispering to trainer Luis Leon and cornerman/translator Roberto Duran Jr. and listening with interest when the other fighters of the evening take the lectern. When it's Mayorga's turn to speak (with Duran's help), he's thoughtful, funny and even whimsically vulnerable:

"I'd like to fight around the world but not Italy. He (Mayorga's opponent, Michele Piccirillo) might beat me there."

Ba-dum-bum! Crowd's digging the funny, baby! And if that ain't enough, ‘El Matador’ is showing the love and a healthy respect to his defeated opponent prior to jetting off to Coolsville with his camp and new co-trainer Yoel Judah.

So who is this cat and what the Hell did he do with the Maniac from Managua?

I'd like to think he was the same guy who fought so valiantly against Felix Trinidad last summer only to lose via TKO, far too stubborn to quit, but something was... different. What changed the consuming-pizza-on-a-scale-while-taunting-his-opponent, Marlboro sucking, beer-drinking pinwheel of destruction into a laid back dude in a loose mood? I suppose it could be a combination of factors resulting in a complexity previously alien to Mayorga's personal development resulting in making Mayorga as complex as the thought of him throwing a legitimate combination of his own.

OK, so Mayorga's not exactly throwing combos these days but since his gutsy loss to the now-retired Trinidad and welcoming Judah into the fold, Mayorga's... uh... thinking a little more... I think.

No, really! I mean, did you see him actually jabbing at Piccirillo, leading into his chopping shots and wild ‘granny shot’ uppercuts instead of just rushing headlong into the fight with only chopping shots and wild ‘granny shot’ uppercuts? He was setting the pace, baby.

In fact, he set the pace so well that maybe he didn't defeat Piccirillo so much as Piccirillo beat himself. With as much backpedaling as the Italian was doing as a result of avoiding Mayorga's newfound jab combined with his natural compulsion to pressure fight, he never gave himself the chance to be productive enough to make a difference in the game. Mayorga knew it and also made it fun. Maybe that’s why things dulled a bit halfway into the fight but by ridiculing his opponent and making him second guess his own game plan, Mayorga extended himself. Perhaps, the new mentality that win or lose, Mayorga can’t lose (ala Fernando Vargas) with his fans, has also helped him to relax. It doesn’t make him less dangerous, mind you.

If there is a negative to all this relaxing and clowning and self-preservation is that it might be the nouveau thing in the realm of the sluggers. Let’s box a little more. Take a little more care and throw less caution to the win. It’s become the fashion of choice from Bernard Hopkins to Marco Antonio Barrera to Arturo Gatti. And yes, it’s a style that Mayorga’s next possible opponent, Vargas, might be wearing should ‘El Feroz’ climb through the ropes to square off against ‘El Matador’ (see Vargas versus Raymond Joval). Do we wanna see Mayorga juke and mug and jab against Vargas? Hell, no. Would we like to see Vargas take three good shots to the dome to return a jolting right that would knock aluminum siding off a house to Mayorga’s head? Of course. Maybe both men will throw out the book and trade to their hearts’ content. Realistically, I truly fear the opposite.

But somewhere inside, I don’t. I don’t want to see either warrior get hurt irreparably but you know how these guys can be. The Hulk vs. The Juggernaut all over again.

For now, however, Ricardo Mayorga’s got a new lease on his career. Whether or not you believe he deserved a shot at a ‘world’ title not withstanding, you’ve gotta admit, there’s something different going on upstairs. It was that difference I saw in his quick step and his cordial attitude when I nabbed him for a photo op with Yours Truly as he was on his way to Saturday night’s post-fight press conference. It was that difference that made him and his entourage come to a screeching halt long enough for Mayorga to throw a friendly paw over my shoulder and ask me how I was doing (in Espanol, of course). It was that difference that was cultivated from three years of big wins, hard losses, legal problems and reality checks. Enough to learn from but not enough to kill you.

My, how times change, indeed.
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