To call Nicaraguan brawler, Ricardo Mayorga, a wild man would be a grievous understatement, and as he prepares to take on Oscar De La Hoya in the biggest fight of his life his caliban temperament is not about to change.
As his promoter Don King put his spin on it, “What you see is what you get. Ricardo’s a great entertainer and a guy everybody can relate to” (I guess everybody can relate to a scar-bearing, former gang leader who makes perverse comments about his opponents). I guess I’m the only one who can’t relate.
“He’s like the Nicaraguan Tyson,” King said. “People come to see him win or lose, but they come to see him which is all that matters.”
Most people though won’t be flocking to Vegas to see “El Matador” defend his WBC super welterweight title, but instead they will be cheering on their “Golden Boy” as he makes his return to the ring after a 20-month respite since being stopped by his now promotional partner, Bernard Hopkins.
This fight is a classic retelling of that ancient storyline that pits the beloved hero versus the hated villain. Whether or not the protagonist in this story will live up to his expectations and defeat the threatening enemy that stands before him will soon be played out. The matinee idol goes head-to-head with the barbaric warrior. Who could ask for a better plot?
Mayorga has been ruthless in his attack on De La Hoya throughout the promotional tour, going as far as saying that he “wanted to stop his heart or at least detach his retina.”
Oscar seemed to take the spewing of hate in stride until Mayorga started in on his family. Dressed in their boxing robes to pose for a promo, the two fighters almost came to blows after Mayorga offered to let De La Hoya borrow his belt for a night in exchange for Oscar’s wife. Then, during a press conference tirade, Mayorga slapped De La Hoya on the back of his head and the fight almost happened right there on the dais. But as the smart businessman that De La Hoya has become, he’s not about to spoil the show before the money’s in the bank. “I don’t fight for free,” he said.
Fernando Vargas hated Oscar and wanted everybody to know it. He attacked his Mexican heritage and his manhood and look where it got him. No fighter had ever gotten under De La Hoya’s skin until Vargas verbally beat him up, but Mayorga has seemingly gone beyond that mark with his consistently vicious battering of his opponent with hurtful comments that go well beyond the act of hyping the fight.
“It’s not that I hate him—I don’t even know the guy. But when he started disrespecting my family, my wife, and my heritage, you have to defend yourself and I’m going to do that by teaching him a lesson in the ring,” De La Hoya said.
But Oscar was quick to remind us that despite Mayorga’s success in getting under his skin, he’s too experienced a competitor to let a trash-talking opponent affect his performance in the ring.
“He hasn’t got into my head, which is very important. I can keep my composure—it’s a matter of preparation and since I’m prepared I know I can ace this test with flying colors,” De La Hoya said.
The line has been crossed and the job has been done. Mayorga has stirred the fire in De La Hoya once more as he says he’s in better conditioning for this fight than ever before. Sparring close to 230 rounds at the Wilfredo Gomez gym in Puerto Rico and spending four months before that shedding the rust of a year-and-a-half layoff, De La Hoya feels as if his skills are finally back to championship form.
“Actually about three weeks ago I felt everything click. The speed, the power, it’s all there,” he said.
In describing why he despises his upcoming opponent, Mayorga offered the type of reasoning you’d think a child in grade school would come up with.
“Just like the schoolyard, there’s the kid you’ve never met, but you just don’t like him—that’s how I feel.”
He’s also intent on avenging De La Hoya’s beating of his idol, Julio Cesar Chavez. Calling Oscar “a punk” for advancing his career at the hands of aging legends such as Chavez, Mayorga is eagerly waiting to put an end to the Golden Boy’s career.
“I’m going to demolish De La Hoya and after I win I don’t even want him coming over to me—if he does I’ll kick him out of the ring.”
If you looked up unsportsmanlike in the dictionary you’d see a picture of Ricardo Mayorga. Still, his fans argue that he’s the most exciting fighter in boxing and that his wild bravado is good for the sport. De La Hoya is not one of those fans.
“I think he’s bad for boxing and as a promoter he’s crossed the line. If he could say a few words and shut his mouth then he’d be a promoter’s dream but I definitely wouldn’t want him in my stable.”
Soon, promoting will become De La Hoya’s fulltime job as he plans to put the gloves down for good after a blockbuster goodbye in September against the likes of Winky Wright, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., or even Felix Trinidad if the opportunity knocks. There’s no doubt that he’ll head into retirement as the top-grossing non-heavyweight in the history of our sport, but his ultimate goal of ending his career as a world champion is still an uncertainty.
“I can close the book and end this story as world champion,” he said. The second-to-last chapter begins inside the squared circle on the evening of May 6 as the Golden Boy will face-off against the Nicaraguan nightmare. Get ready for a heavyweight drama in a 154-pound package..