Fighting Ricardo Mayorga is like fighting an octopus. His punches are wide and undisciplined and they seem to come from out of nowhere and land just about everywhere. He doesn’t come at you with slick combinations and quick jabs. He comes at you with reckless abandon, a drunk in a bar throwing haymakers and hoping one will somehow land where it’s supposed to. He always expects to make a long night a little shorter.
That‘s what Don King says Mayorga is going to do, make it an early night. He says Mayorga is going to knock out Miguel Cotto (35-2, 28 KOs) on March 12 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas (SHOWTIME pay-per-view). Then Mayorga (29-7-1, 25 KOs) is going to go for the grand prize: Manny Pacquiao.
Manny is still out there standing on the pedestal and Mayorga has drawn a bead on him, though he might want to wait until he sees if the first part of his future plans come true.
He has to beat Cotto first, and Cotto could be a big spoiler. But Mayorga takes it a step further and says he has to stop Cotto, not just beat him. And Cotto isn‘t some second-class tune-up for bigger and better things. He doesn’t go down easy. He’s the WBA super-welterweight champion and he says he’s had one of the best training camps of his career, though that’s an old line they all use. But somehow, you believe it from Cotto.
Asked how he thought his fighter would do against Cotto, King sounded like he’d said it before. Said it several times before.
“I think Ricardo is going to knock Cotto out, case closed,” King said on a split conference call that starred Cotto and his trainer, Manny Steward, in the first half and Mayorga and King in the second half. “This is more than just a fight, this is a grudge fight and Ricardo will go out and do what he has to do because Ricardo wants Pacquiao.”
Wants him bad. But so do a handful of other fighters looking for the payday of a lifetime.
Mayorga says his fight with Cotto is the first of two steps that will probably take him into retirement. Cotto first. Pacquiao second. And that’s what’s driving him against Cotto.
“I know I’m going to have to chase him all around the ring,“ he said. “He’s going to have skates on with some turbos. I’m going to have to chase him down.“
Bold words for a fighter who hasn’t exactly been ripping up the divisions as he climbs toward Mount Pacquiao. He’s 3-3 in his last six fights and he’s been averaging a fight a year for the last six years, which aren’t exactly Willie Pep numbers. Along with all that dire news, he’s been stopped in all three of his most recent losses.
Cotto is probably licking his lips.
Still, there is the trademark Mayorga bravado.
“If I don’t beat Miguel Cotto by knockout and I happen to beat him by decision, I don’t feel I’d be deserving of a fight with Pacquiao,” he said. “That‘s how strongly I feel I‘m going to win this fight. When I knock out Manny Pacquiao, I will become the most famous fighter of all time.”
Cotto and Steward are not taking Mayorga lightly. But they have a plan or two of their own to help things along.
“No one has had an easy time against Mayorga until the end of the fight when he was exhausted,” Steward said. “But I don’t think the fight will go over four rounds. He won’t be able to handle the accurate power punching of Miguel.”
This is Steward’s second fight working with Cotto and he says the thing he’s noticed most about his fighter is how much faster Cotto has become over the past few months.
Against Mayorga, he says they will have two or three plans to fight him, depending on what he brings into the ring.
“A Kamikaze fighter like him is always dangerous,“ Steward said.
If there is a friendly rivalry here, it’s well hidden. Mayorga took more shots at Steward than he did at Cotto. He called both of them “clowns,“ and “failures,“ but that was just Mayorga being Mayorga. Still, he saved his best for Steward.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Emanuel Steward is a failure in the boxing business. He’s had some fame and been very lucky in his career because he helped a very famous name back in the day. That’s how he’s grabbed some attention and fame.“
He ended his slam of Steward by saying it was a shame to see Cotto change his style so late in the game, so late in his career.
“It‘s only going to mess (Cotto) up and play into my favor,” Mayorga said.
“And (Cotto) has not been hit harder than I will hit him.”
Case closed? Maybe not.