This past Saturday on Don King’s Pay-to-View card from Madison Square Garden Ricardo Mayorga blew his chance to become the WBA Welterweight champion. While Mayorga didn’t do anything in the ring to lose that opportunity, he obviously didn’t do enough in preparing for the scheduled title fight with champion Jose Rivera either.
The man who recently stepped up to the scales with a chicken wing in hand to show how comfortable he was making weight would have had to chop of a wing of his own to make the 147-pound limit. It isn’t that the Nicaraguan puncher was even close either . . . he was an absurd 6.5 pounds over the limit.
As a professional there are certain obligations a fighter has to himself, to his team, to his promoter and to his fans. One of those is to put him in the best position to win each fight and do so by putting forth the effort in preparing. Clearly the effort was not there for ‘El Matador,’ despite a respected world title shot at stake against one of the lesser respected champions. Years ago, while toiling away in anonymity at the gym in La Sabana Park of San Jose, Costa Rica, Mayorga would have done anything to have a world title opportunity shot. This time he did relatively nothing.
Don King handed the free-swinging Mayorga a silver platter of opportunity and he literally ate it up. What’s the point of even showing up at the weigh-in a half-dozen pounds and few ‘Twinkies’ over the contract weight? The result left King and his people scrambling to re-work the deal with Rivera in order to save the fight as a non-title affair. Rivera balked – seemingly looking for more money that never came – and he had every right to. Rivera did what he was supposed to do and made weight, yet he was painted as the bad guy for not succumbing to the same deal and a heavier opponent in a non-title bout.
Team Mayorga will shrug this all off and explain that he had already announced that he was moving up to junior middleweight — so what if it came earlier than expected. The decision to move up is all about economics. With Shane Mosley and Vernon Forrest recently stepping up to Super Welterweight and De La Hoya wading somewhere between 154 and 160 pounds there are bigger paydays above welterweight.
A welterweight rematch against slick southpaw Corey Spinks would end the way the first did and there doesn’t seem to be much interest from Mayorga’s side to take on WBO Welterweight belt holder Antonio Margarito. Margarito would give Mayorga all he could handle, but the fight wouldn’t be a mega-money bout due to Margarito’s relatively low profile. So, why not move up for a big fight and at least get paid more to lose? Makes dollars and sense.
The waters may only get rougher for Mayorga as he has established himself as a marketable welterweight fighter by having an edge in power and an aggressive approach. But what happens if he can’t do versus bigger, stronger men what he did against 147-pounders?
Besides being able to take a big shot – he once again dropped his hands and stuck his chin out for Saturday’s last minute sub Eric Mitchell to bounce shots off his mug – what else does he bring to the division? He wouldn’t be able to touch WBA/WBC/IBF Champion Ronald “Winky” Wright and Mosley would be too fast and at least as strong. A fight against Fernando Vargas would be exciting to see. Both men are solid punchers, but Mayorga definitely can take a punch better than Vargas. If Vargas boxed and moved he could give El Matador problems, but in the end it seems that his chin would fail him. On the flip side, beating Vargas – considered damaged goods by most – really wouldn’t prove much other than set up a bigger economic opportunity. Daniel Santos has a belt, but not the name brand, and would be a tough bout for Mayorga.
Looking back on this past weekend it seems that Mayorga’s path of least resistance to a title belt was making weight and looking impressive in beating WBA Welterweight champ Jose Rivera. Unfortunately his hunger surpassed his hunger to be champion again.