As Ricardo “El Matador” Mayorga stepped in front of the microphone this sudden whisk of déjà vu crept into my mind as the mad Nicaraguan began to rant about the shortcomings of Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto with a smiling Don King behind him.
Had I seen this before?
Boxing repeats and repeats some scenarios more than others, but if ever a prizefighter could enliven an approaching confrontation, no one surpasses Mayorga. Not even Don King.
“He truly is insane,” crows King.
The insanity of Mayorga (29-7-1, 23 KOs) steps forward to fight WBA junior middleweight world titleholder Cotto (35-2, 28 KOs) on Saturday at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. The heavy duty Top Rank card will be televised on Showtime pay-per-view.
If Mayorga could speak English he’d topple boxing empires. Speaking solely Spanish he’s been able to dig roots into pro boxing because of his promotional prowess and his mighty punch.
Cotto is Cotto. The boricua has proven he’s not only one of this era’s best pugilists, but also proven to be a magnet for women who love boxing. Whether the woman is Puerto Rican, Colombian, Costa Rican or Mexican, all the women love Cotto. It’s unexplainable.
“I didn’t know this,” said Cotto who smiled and shrunk at the question of his attraction to women. “I must be blessed to have any fans.”
That’s Cotto, a gentleman to the end. Inside the ring he’ll be dealing with a beast.
“Miguel and Emanuel are clowns,” said Mayorga with a shrug and looking like a 21st century version of Il duce Benito Mussolini. “They’re both failures.”
“You can say whatever you want to say but we still have to fight inside the ring with our fists,” counters Cotto.
Mayorga loves to brag, intimidate and dare the world he’s not a champion. He’s at his best during the weigh ins.
“I’m going to step on the scales with a plate of Puerto Rican food,” joked Mayorga, 37.
But you can bet he means it.
Who can forget back in July 2003 when Mayorga stepped on a scale with a whole pizza and munched while being weighed to fight Vernon Forrest in a rematch, or his smoking a cigarette immediately after a win against Andrew “Six Heads” Lewis.
Mayorga has a little insanity about him and maybe that’s a good thing.
“He’s insane,” insists his promoter Don King.
Cotto, on the other hand, is one of the good souls of the sport. He’s never involved in drug or steroid scandals though he’s become one of Latina women’s favorite boxers. Ask any woman who follows the sport and they’ll point to Cotto as their favorite.
The Puerto Rican is now trained by Emanuel Steward and is seeking to defend the WBA junior middleweight world title he won against Yuri Foreman last summer. Realistically there is far more on his mind than simply a title defense: he wants another crack at Manny Pacquiao.
Cotto won’t talk about fighting Pacquiao out of respect for Mayorga, but the Nicaraguan is not shy about his intentions.
“I’m going to fight the Filipino Manny Pacquiao. If I don’t, it’s my fault,” said Mayorga who was told a win over Cotto would put him in line to fight Pacquiao should that boxer defeat Shane Mosley on May 7. “I want that fight with Pacquiao. If I don’t beat Cotto by knockout, I don’t feel I’m deserving of a fight with Pacquiao.”
That’s Mayorga for you. He’s colorful and blunt as a hammer.
Mexico’s Miguel Vazquez (27-3, 12 KOs) defends the IBF lightweight title against Australia’s Leonardo Zappavigna (25-0, 17 KOs) at the MGM Grand Casino. It’s Vazquez’ second title defense.
Vazquez worked out at Azteca Boxing club in Bell and looked sharp with his foot work. He’s a tall and lanky type of fighter. Zappavigna is a muscular pressure fighter. It should be interesting.
Fights on television
Sat. Showtime pay-per-view, 6 p.m., Miguel Cotto vs. Ricardo Mayorga
Sat. HBO, 7:30 p.m. Sergio Martinez vs. Sergiy Dzinziruk
Other fight chatter
Promoter Oscar De La Hoya reported his wallet missing last Saturday at the Honda Center in Anaheim. He was offering $1.5 million for its return. “There is something in there that money can’t buy,” De La Hoya tweeted on Sunday. Golden Boy Promotions staged the Saul Alvarez fight with Matthew Hatton in Anaheim. Alvarez won the WBC junior middleweight title by decision.
WBC middleweight champion Sergio Martinez (46-2-2, 25 KOs) fights WBO middleweight titleholder Sergiy Dzinziruk (37-0, 23 KOs) on Saturday in Connecticut. Martinez, who lives and trains in Oxnard, is considered one of the best boxers pound for pound. Dzinziruk, a Ukrainian, lives in Germany. Both are southpaws. The middleweight clash will be shown on HBO.
Two former world champions Joel “El Cepillo” Casamayor and “Mighty” Mike Anchondo collide this Friday March 11 at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Cuba’s Casamayor (37-5-1, 22 KOs) is hoping to rebound from a loss to Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero last summer. La Puente’s Anchondo (30-3, 19 KOs) was stopped in four by Freddy Hernandez. It will not be televised.
Mexico’s Mariana Juarez and Italy’s Simona Galassi finally square off for the WBC flyweight world title after numerous attempts to bring them together dissolved. Juarez (27-5-3, 13 KOs) has been the number one contender for more than two years. Galassi (14-0-1) has refused to fight outside of Europe, but the title fight will be held Saturday in Mexico City.
Scotland’s undefeated middleweight Craig McEwan (19-0) fights Ireland’s Andy Lee (24-1, 18 KOs) on Saturday at the Foxwood Casino in Connecticut. McEwan is trained by Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Boxing gym.
Hector Camacho Jr. (53-4-1, 28 KOs) fights Juan De La Rosa (20-3-1, 15 KOs) on Friday in Norcross, Georgia. Puerto Rico’s Camacho last fought and won against Juan Astorga last month. De La Rosa hasn’t fought in two years and was a former participant of the Contender reality television show.
Temecula’s Dan Henderson grabbed the Strikeforce light heavyweight world title with a third round knockout of Rafael Cavalcante (10-3) on Saturday. The fight took place in Columbus, Ohio. “I want to thank Feijao for giving me this opportunity,” said Henderson (27-8). It’s Henderson’s fifth MMA world title.
WBC and WBO junior welterweight titleholder Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley (27-0, 11 KOs) and WBA titleholder Amir Khan (24-1, 17 KOs) met at the Honda Center and chatted a bit about their future. “I hope you win your fight, I really do,” Bradley told Khan who is fighting Ireland’s Paul McCloskey (22-0) on April 16. “Then maybe we can do something.”
Fantasy Springs Casino announced former flyweight world champions Eric Morel (43-2, 21 KOs) of Puerto Rico and Martin Castillo (35-4, 18 KOs) of Mexico will fight a rematch on April 1. No fooling. Castillo beat Morel in 2005. Also added on the card is local fireplug Randy Caballero of Coachella. For tickets (800) 827-2946.
Mexico’s Anibel Ortiz (7-1) defends the WBC minimum weight world title against Japan’s Naoko Fujioka (5-0) on Saturday March 12, in Tokyo. It’s Ortiz’s second title defense in Tokyo. The Mexico City boxer beat Carina Moreno for the title October 2009.
Super middleweight contender Don “da Bomb” George (21-1-1, 18 KOs) fights Maxell “The General” Taylor (15-2-1, 6 KOs) at UIC Pavilion on April 1 in Chicago. George is coming off a nationally televised fight where he knocked out Cornelius White. (312) 413-5740.
Undefeated Melinda Cooper (21-0, 11 KOs) is signed to fight Florida’s Ada Velez (18-3-3) for the vacant IBF junior featherweight world title on March 31 in Costa Rica. Cooper lives in Las Vegas and is trained by James Pena. She is a former flyweight world champion. Velez is a former bantamweight world champion.
Jose “Shibata” Flores (45-10, 26 KOs) has agreed to fight Roberto Garcia (28-3, 21 KOs) of Texas at the Commerce Casino in Southern California on March 25. Flores is a former title challenger who fought Fernando Vargas. Garcia’s last fight was a loss by decision to Antonio Margarito in May 2010.