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Vernon Forrest: Boxing After Mayorga
(April 10, 2004) 
Vernon Forrest
Vernon Forrest is preparing to pick up the pieces of his career, his bid for superstardom, which was left in shambles by the wild man from Nicaragua, Ricardo Mayorga. Forrest takes on Teddy “Two Gun” Reid, of Jamaica, on the Klistchko-Sanders undercard in Los Angeles on April 24. In this fight, Forrest will attempt to rebuild the respect and admiration that he garnered with back to back wins over Sugar Shane Mosley, and at the same time will be trying to put as much distance between himself and the memory of the two losses to Mayorga as possible. Forrest learned two things, one from each of his bouts with Mayorga. In the first fight, he learned that one does not slug with a slugger, especially if one’s best attribute happens to be boxing, that is, scoring points while staying out of harm’s way. In the rematch, Forrest learned a little too late that he cannot allow himself to be intimidated. If he had stepped up the pace a little sooner, he might have been the one to upset the Mayorga Express rather than Cory Spinks.

Forrest, 33, began his professional career in late 1992 and had an impressive streak of 35 straight victories without a loss before running into Mayorga. Those fights included wins over the likes of Ray Oliveira, Adrian Stone, Vince Phillips and the aforementioned Mosley. Yet, despite his impressive credentials as a fighter, Forrest just never seemed to capture the imagination of the boxing public, let alone the sporting public. Even after he had Mosley teetering on the edge of consciousness in their first fight, Forrest failed to become a star with crossover appeal. He was a great story for boxing in the fact that he dedicated each of his fights to the members of a home for special people that he operates in his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. Outside of that, however, he was considered dull. His fights often were boring and dirty, and provided little entertainment value. Once he defeated Mosley, however, the sky appeared to be the limit.

The sky came crashing down on Forrest, however, in the form of a single right hand bomb from Mayorga on January 25, 2003. The fight made Mayorga the star that Forrest should have been, not because Mayorga was necessarily a better fighter than Forrest, but because he had a better personality. Forrest had a chance to set things straight against “El Matador” later in the year, but failed to do so as he allowed Mayorga to throw him around like a rag doll. Even if some observers felt that Forrest had done enough to take the decision, Mayorga appeared to do enough, at least in the eyes of the judges.

So after nine months, Forrest has finally decided to return to the ring. His opponent, Reid, is 32 years old and holds wins over Terrence Cauthen, Joe Hutchinson, and well, probably no one else you've ever heard of. Reid has lost his biggest fights against Ben Tackie, Golden Johnson, and Andrew Lewis, and appears the type of fighter who will be just right for Forrest to make his comeback against. Not too dangerous, but carrying just the right amount of respect to make him a credible opponent, at least for a comeback bout.

Whether or not Forrest will ever be able to recapture the confidence that he had before stepping into the ring with Mayorga remains to be seen. If he can, however, he must make the most of his opportunity quickly. He is an aging warrior who has not always been one of the sport’s most entertaining, and he knows in his heart that he fought two fights against Mayorga in which he didn’t fight very intelligently. Having learned from his mistakes, we should expect a new and improved Vernon Forrest on April 24 and beyond. He has learned from his fights with Mayorga, and now he must not only show us, but, more importantly, himself.
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