To Russia With Gloves: Sad To Say, But Ricardo Mayorga Isn’t Done Yet

In June of 2004, Ricardo Mayorga told Associated Press writer Filadelfo Aleman that he was bored with boxing and planned to retire after two more fights. Mayorga said he was financially well-off. “I have bought five very big houses, two farms with a good amount of land and I have money saved,” he said. “I don’t want any more boxing for anything,” continued Mayorga, who said that he was planning to build an auto racing track to pursue his passion for stock car racing.

Flash forward 13 years and five months. On Friday, Nov. 3, Ricardo Mayorga, 44, fights Andrey Sirotkin in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. Mayorga brings a 32-9-1 record into the 12-round super middleweight contest. His obscure Russian opponent is 13-0.

Mayorga was one of boxing’s most colorful characters. In December of 2003, he was featured on the cover of The Ring magazine with the caption “The Craziest Man in the Sport.” A relentless trash talker, Mayorga reportedly trained on cigarettes and beer. A brawler who threw punches from every angle, his fan friendly style translated into strong TV ratings.

Mayorga was riding high when he appeared on The Ring cover with a cigarette protruding from his mouth. In January of that year he had scored a truly stunning upset, stopping previously undefeated Vernon Forrest in the third round and then, six months later, turned Forrest away again, winning a majority decision. Their two bouts, with the WBA and WBC world welterweight titles on the line, gave credence to the old saying that styles make fights. Forrest lost only one other fight and that came late in his 44-bout career.

Mayorga hails from Managua, Nicaragua. He purportedly grew up in a one-room shack without electricity or running water. As a teenager he ran with a gang and was repeatedly in trouble with the law. He made his pro debut in San Jose, Costa Rica, and had 15 of his first 24 fights there. An astounding fact about him is that he was 11 years and 38 fights into his pro career before he engaged in a match scheduled for less than 10 rounds.

Perhaps the fabled Sports Illustrated cover jinx was infectious. Shortly after The Ring hit the newsstands with his face on the cover, Mayorga lost his title belts to IBF belt-holder Cory Spinks. The fight was very close and Mayorga would have theoretically won if the referee hadn’t taken three points away for various infractions.

Heading into the match, in which he was a substantial favorite, Mayorga was considered a virtual lock to win The Ring’s Fighter of the Year award. Instead the honor went to James Toney.

Since the loss to Spinks, Mayorga’s career has been choppy. In perhaps his best showing, he outpointed former IBF/WBA 154-pound champion “Ferocious” Fernando Vargas in a 12-round contest at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. But that was the last notable fighter that Mayorga defeated and that was 10 years ago. Prior to meeting Vargas he was stopped by Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya and he would subsequently fail to last the distance with Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosely twice.

His career since his first encounter with Mosely in 2008 has been pocked by long stretches of inactivity. He’s had only eight fights in the last 11 years, not counting MMA fights in Nicaragua, all of which he apparently lost. Legal troubles have shadowed him since his teenage years, stalling comebacks. Among the various charges leveled against him were that he punched a man in the face while brandishing a gun and that he purchased four cars from a dealership with an I.O.U. that proved to be bogus.

In his most recent ring appearance, in April of this year, Mayorga fought a man who had lost 14 of his previous 16 fights. The man quit after the second round. The match was held at Chaman Bar, a popular nightclub in Managua. Mayorga weighed in at 174 ¾ pounds, roughly 25 pounds more than he carried at his peak.

The promoter of Friday’s Mayorga-Sirotkin fight, Vladimir Hryunmov, succeeded in getting the match sanctioned for the WBC “Silver” title at 168 pounds. In the WBC handbook, a Silver champion is one notch down from an Interim champion. But the organization then did an about-face and rescinded their blessing.

That opened the door to the WBA which swooped in like a vulture and sanctioned the match for the WBA International Super Middleweight Title. The title was conveniently vacant. It’s always vacant.

Mayorga promises that he will retire if he loses, but we have heard that song before. If he wins, he says his next fight will be for a world title. He even has the date picked out, Feb. 3, 2018, a Saturday.

Ricardo Mayorga was fun for a while, but his act wore thin a long time ago. If he fights for a world title in 2018, we wouldn’t be shocked and that in itself is shocking.

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