New York – While Ricardo Mayorga struggled against his last minute, handpicked opponent –Philadelphia's Eric Mitchell (now 16-4-1 with 7 KO's) — WBA Welterweight World Champion Jose Rivera watched from his ringside seat.
Rivera, originally scheduled to defend his title against Mayorga, had learned just hours earlier that he was off promoter Don King's “Night of Title Fights at The Garden” Pay-Per-View fightcard. Mayorga, who couldn't make the weight for his title shot and truly didn't seem to care, was accommodated with another Don King fighter, the “softer touch,” journeymen-like Mitchell.
While the many Rivera supporters within the Madison Square Garden 15,195 in attendance booed and loudly jeered Mayorga, the Nicaraguan fighter was unable to dominate or control his lesser, yet game, opponent and had to settle for a unanimous 10 round decision victory.
In Mayorga's most recent fight (12/13/03 majority decision loss to now undisputed super welterweight champion Cory Spinks), he was exposed for the type of fighter he is: an unskilled, unpolished boxer whose main attributes are his power, intimidation and bullying of his opponents.
Mayorga's subsequent appeal to the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board to contest the Spink's loss (which the NJSAC found to have no merit) showed Mayorga to be a sore loser and a cry baby. In the ring that night Mayorga had kissed Spink's gloves and congratulated the champion. Only later did Mayorga file the protest.
In contrast, Jose Rivera is a true champion. On September 13, 2003 Rivera, now still 37-3-1 (24 KO's), traveled to Hamburg, Germany to win the WBA Welterweight Championship, with a 12 round majority decision victory over Michael Tribant. Anyone even vaguely familiar with boxing knows what it takes to attain a victory (via decision) overseas. Rivera honored his commitment and his contract, as well as his championship, and was never more ready than he was on April 17th to face Mayorga.
Mayorga disrespected Rivera, disrespected the WBA, disrespected the sport of boxing, and the fans. As a coddled Don King fighter, who had just blown his opportunity to fight for a world championship, he was actually rewarded with another fight – an easier fight, on this same fightcard.
Rivera, a full-time juvenile court officer in his hometown of Worchester, Mass. wasted over three weeks vacation and family time and was the victim of this unwarranted treatment by Don King — who, believe it or not — is also Rivera's promoter!
“I think there was a much better way to handle this” Rivera said. “It wasn't right, it wasn't professional. I deserved to be treated fair and honestly.”
As per Rivera's valid and legal contract he (Rivera) was entitled to no less than 50% of his purse, which would have been his highest to date at $250,000 (or $125,000) as well as 15% of Mayorga's $225,000 purse ($33,750) for Mayorga's inability to make the required 147lb. limit. Mayorga weighed a ridiculous 153½ lbs., while Rivera came in battle ready.
Inexplicably, the New York State Athletic Commission determined that Rivera would receive a $50,000 payment as compensation, regardless of the signed contract which entitles Rivera to over $150,000.00.
Bottom Line…..Everyone knows that Don King wants his prized fighter Ricardo “El Pollo” Mayorga to take on returning former world champion Felix “Tito” Trinidad in a mega-fight this September. That fight doesn't become a reality if Mayorga was beaten by Rivera (which he would have been) this past weekend.
Jose Rivera is a World Champion and has worked extremely hard to get where he is. We've now seen that Rivera's own promoter, Don King, doesn't have his fighter's best interests at heart and even the New York State Athletic Commission – with all it's improvements – allowed this charade to take place in boxing's greatest arena, Madison Square Garden.
Don King says it best: “only in America.” Unfortunately, he should also say, “only in boxing.”