After twelve years of putting on great shows in the ring for the boxing fans, Paulie Ayala has decided it is time to hang up the gloves and call it a day. After his loss to Marco Antonio Barrera back in June, the 34-year-old Texas native feels that he has accomplished what he set out to do, which was win fights and entertain the fight fans. Since his pro debut back in November 1992 he has done just that. With a career total of 38 total fights, Ayala went 35-3 (12). He earned such belts as the NABF bantamweight title, IBO super bantamweight title and the WBA bantamweight bitle. He had two wins over Johnny Tapia and one of those battles scored Ring Magazine’s 'Fight of the Year' for their 1999 WBA bantamweight title fight. That same year Ayala was Ring Magazine’s 'Fighter of the Year', something that he regards as his greatest accomplishment in the ring. In every bout throughout the years whether it was a win or a loss Ayala has always shown what he was best known for, and that was his Texas-sized heart. To the Texan fans and all the fans around the world, Paulie Ayala’s presence in the ring will be missed. In an exclusive interview with Doghouse Boxing, Paulie reflects on his career achievements and talks about what the future holds for him outside the ring.
Benny Henderson Jr.: After your bout with Barrera have you decided to retire or will you continue fighting?
Paulie Ayala: No, that’s going to be it man. I’m going to go ahead and call it quits. There’s nothing else to accomplish, I feel that I have done what I’ve set out to do as far as making good fights and entertaining the fans. Also with that loss in mind I just found it appropriate to hang it up because what I would have to do in order to get another title shot is campaign and have another couple tune-up fights and I really don’t have time to do that in order to make a big fight. So I decided to hang it up and retire.
BH: What are your plans after retirement?
PA: I have a fighter that we have been managed for a bit now but I don’t know if I want to so much take that route at this time. I would like to commentate if that option ever opened up, but right now I am just keeping my options open. We are also looking to open up a gym.
BH: Out of your career what has been your greatest accomplishment?
PA: The year I won the world title, 1999 was probably my best year of all my best accomplishments. I beat Johnny Tapia and I received Ring Magazine’s 'Fighter of the Year' award. With all the champions out there, even with Barrera and Morales, they’ve never received that. De la Hoya, Trinidad, Lennox Lewis and Tyson were all active fighters, so for me to be chosen and receive that award I felt really honored.
BH: It must have been a really great honor?
PA: Oh yeah it really was because there were so many greats that received that award like Rocky Marciano, Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, De la Hoya, Sugar Ray Robinson and Sugar Ray Leonard. With the years the magazine has been around and with all the great fighters that has been on the front cover to receive that award, and now I’m on there. It is just a really big honor and I’m thankful for it.
BH: What inspired you to box?
PA: I boxed when I was little and I never thought about making it a profession. But after I changed my life and accepted Christ I had a vision and acted on it and become world champion. Knowing that all things are possible with Christ just gave me the confidence that I needed to fight.
BH: Which fight is your most memorable fight?
PA: I have to go back to my first world title fight when I won against Johnny Tapia. He was 47-0 and with his lifetime story of Mi Vida Loca and being undefeated for 10 years and me being the first guy to beat him was just really big for me. You know he pushed me when we were getting the pre-fight instructions and that added to the drama. So when I won it was just really great.
BH: Looking back at the Barrera fight what should you have done differently?
PA: We went in there with the wrong game plan. When I seen that I was behind in the rounds I tried to make something happen and I was exposed and he caught me. If I had to do it again I would defiantly come in there with a different game plan.
BH: What are your hobbies out of the ring?
PA: I love working out and mostly I love hanging out with my kids. As far as that, that’s my hobbies.
BH: Who were your boxing heroes when you were growing up?
PA: We had some champions here in Ft. Worth coming up when I was a teenager and I trained in the same gym as them. Steve Cruz was one of the guys I looked up to.
BH: What advice would you give to a young fighter?
PA: Stay focused, be patient, surround yourself with good people, never give up and always do your best.
BH: How would you like to be remembered by the boxing world?
PA: Well hopefully as somebody who always gave his best and never turned down a big fight. Just always was real fun to watch and was entertaining for the people to come and watch.
BH: What would you like to say as your farewell to the fans?
PA: I just want to thank everybody for their support that they have given me throughout the years. Hopefully I have returned the favor with great entertaining fights for the fans. Remember this: you can take a fighter out of the fight, but you can never take the fight out of a fighter. So maybe one day we will meet again at a boxing event.
I would like to thank Paulie Ayala for taking out the time for the Doghouse and the fans. I would also like to say thanks to Paulie for all the great memories in the ring and all the entertaining fights he produced for all the fans. For more information on Paulie Ayala, check out his website: Paulie Ayala Home Page.
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