Despite being a former world welterweight champion and current WBC junior middleweight titlist, Ricardo “El Matador” Mayorga might be better known for his antics outside the ring. What the Nicaraguan slugger lacks in skill, he more than makes up for in entertainment. An avid smoker, drinker and trash talker, Mayorga often dismisses the discipline associated with training before a fight and instead relies on punching power. Mayorga will put his skills to the test on May 6, 2006 when he takes on “The Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya, who has had nearly a two-year absence from the ring. On a conference call today, Mayorga discussed his tactics for this upcoming battle with the help of his translator and lawyer, Tony Gonzalez. Mayorga began by saying that he is taking this fight quite seriously and that his training has drastically changed. He is no longer smoking several packs a day or drinking beer. He has tailored his smoking to just three or four cigarettes, and has had no alcohol while at training camp.
When asked about what he expects from De La Hoya, Mayorga said, “I hope to see the best out of him. I don’t expect him to be how he was ten years ago, but I expect a good fight.” When questioned about the loaded comments the two fighters have traded with each other in the recent past, Mayorga answered excitedly. “I remember when we were trading barbs and insults, and I recognized that I said a couple of things, but he did say some things to me and my family too, so I will make him pay on May 6. When we were doing that HBO shoot, he said he was going to take this belt away from me and I said. ‘Let me have your wife for a night and you can have the belt for a night.’ That’s when he said, ‘Let me have your mom for a night,’ and that’s when I went off.” He went on to explain that he feels even more emotionally upset now. “Being away from my family for so long – I haven’t been able to be with them. I was away for my birthday, I wasn’t able to have my Easter dinner with them like I usually do, and I attribute it all to him. I’m even more furious now. It’s nice to hear that he has so much hate for me. When it comes to May 6, we’ll see if he is going to stand in the middle and box with me. The result is going to be the same whether he chooses to box or stay in front of me. I believe honestly that despite all the insults that we’ve traded, I don’t think he’s man enough to stand in front of me. Regardless, I’m going to knock him out.”
Mayorga continued by saying that he will leave De La Hoya in worse shape than when he fought Trinidad, and that he will send him to the hospital after the fight. “Oscar has no balls,” he said. “Trinidad is a way better fighter than Oscar,” said Mayorga, referring to his conqueror in one of 2004’s fights of the year. A reporter asked if Mayorga will test De La Hoya’s punching power by sticking out his chin, much in the same manner as he did with Trinidad. “Oscar doesn’t deserve for me to stick my chin out,” Mayorga replied. “Trinidad is a great man and that’s why I did that. He is a great warrior. Oscar doesn’t deserve that. Simply put, I just don’t like him. I don’t like him on a personal level, least of all on a professional level. I’ve always said that. As I’ve said in previous interviews, I not only want to stop him, I want to stop his heart. I really want to do damage to him. Just like when you go to the schoolyard, and there’s a kid you never met in your life, and you’ve never spoken to him, but you just don’t like him. I just don’t like the guy. There’s no explanation for it. I have absolutely no respect for his punching power. Even if he hits me below the belt, it’s not going to be sufficient enough for me to even wince. I’m going to detach his retina or stop his heart.”
When asked if Mayorga considers himself a fighter that trainers can teach or someone who has his own ideas about how to win his fights, he responded coolly by saying, “I think that one has to let themselves be guided. You can’t do it by yourself. The trainer serves many purposes, one of them which is to fix my many wrongdoings in the ring. I let myself be guided. I think I’ve become a lot better. I’ve become faster, stronger. I’ve pulled my punches a lot.” A follow-up question is asked about why, if he has gotten better, Mayorga’s results in the ring haven’t been any better. “Simply said,” Mayorga explained, “in life the only invincible one is God. And I’m not God. I’m in a sport, and in a sport you either win or lose. And I had a bad night against Trinidad, but that was in the past. And in fact, just to elaborate on that, it’s just one bad night. It’s one bad night that’s happened in my career that I’m going to make sure it doesn’t repeat itself. I am going to beat De La Hoya and I am going to demolish him. For Oscar, have him not even think about coming to greet me after the fight, because I’m going to kick him out of the ring.”
Mayorga then segued into his preparations for the ring, in addition to cutting back on smoking and drinking. “There’s several factors involved,” he said. “I’ve been running five or six miles everyday. I’ve been doing two or three hours of gym work which I didn’t always do. I’ve committed myself to this camp. I’ve been away from my family this whole time. At the same time – sex. I’ve abstained from that and haven’t been near that since I’ve been here. It is the formula that made me a world champion. I think me as a person and as a professional athlete, I’ve matured a lot. At the same time, the great despise toward Oscar has helped me train harder. I started running 2 weeks in Nicaragua before coming here. I’ve already been here for 12 weeks. I’d say I’ve trained 9-12 weeks in Miami.”
When asked if De La Hoya is as good as was in the past, Mayorga cracked a joke. “He’s like my grandma. A little chubby sitting on the front porch of my house. That’s what I expect. He wants to be back at the level he was before. But his body, his energy, is not the same. Obviously this is the biggest fight of my career and my life. I would like to thank Don King for getting this fight for me. This is securing my fighting future and family’s future.”
King joined the call about midway through and was asked several questions, including how De La Hoya has been such an icon for the sport of boxing. “Well I think that Oscar has been a tremendous advocate of the sport,” King said. “I predict Ricardo Mayorga will knock out Oscar, and the transition will be made when Mayorga becomes the champion of the public. Because Oscar has always been the champion of the public. Mayorga is going to be a super attraction if he can get himself together. What you see is what you get with Mayorga. He’s a great fighter, a great entertainer, and he is a great guy that people can relate with. The people have a love affair with Oscar, but they’ll have more of a love affair with Ricardo Mayorga. He’s like the Nicaraguan Tyson. Mayorga is a diamond in the rough, and I’m a diamond polisher. I’m looking at Ricardo as the next brilliant star in the sport of boxing. In a couple of weeks, the public will believe that too. When he’s off, he can have the fun. When he’s in camp, he trains. He’s a guy that I’m very proud of but I’ll be more proud to see him win. To see him knock out Oscar on May 6. And I love Oscar. I think Oscar’s a great, great guy. In this sport things happen. Knockouts come, knockouts go. Don’t be surprised. Mayorga can redeem himself with Trinidad. Trinidad is waiting in the wings. Boxing really misses Tito. He never gained the fame and the claim that Oscar had. Tito is one of the greatest fighters in the world and he certainly will give Mayorga an opportunity for revenge because he’s honorable. When Mayorga knocks out Oscar, hello Trinidad!”
Most polls show De La Hoya as the favorite, but King isn’t convinced. “The will to win, the drive, and the motivation that inspires Mayorga is beyond belief. This man will be relentless with his pursuit to beat Oscar. It’s going to be a fight. It’s going to be a physical warfare. They’re not going to try and figure each other out mentally. Mayorga is a powerful warrior, not the technician that Oscar is. Now you’re going to see a Mayorga that is more smooth, more tactical. Nothing is going to be more relentless than his power pursuit. Oscar De La Hoya is not going to have a bicycle or plane to run around. He’s going to establish his manhood with this guy because he’s insulted him. It’s going to be one of the most provocative fights ever witnessed. I am looking forward to it as a man, as a promoter, as a father. Ricardo Mayorga will knockout Oscar in a real war.”
Dan Rafael then asked King what would happen if De La Hoya was to beat Mayorga. “Well, De La Hoya wants to avenge his loss of Tito. That’s what caused him all his problems, because he looked past Ricardo to all these other guys. Now, he’s got the fury and the wrath of Ricardo Mayorga on his hands. If he should be able to beat the wrath, which there are two chances – slim and none – and slim’s out of town, then naturally he would want Tito. I think we could get either one.” Rafael reminded King that his predictions haven’t been “on” as of late, considering he thought that Judah would beat Mayweather. “Me and the Golden Boy are always talking. As you know, Oscar is a nice guy. However, the prediction with my dear friend, Zab Judah, is that he don’t throw punches. You can’t win if you don’t throw punches. If he did like he did in the first four rounds, he had Mayweather totally discombobulated. Houdini couldn’t win without hitting. You won’t have that with Ricardo. You will not have a shortage of punches. If they hit their mark, then you and me both know, it will be lights out and curtains for De La Hoya. I stand behind this prediction. I do have a person that is going to go out there and use the power he was blessed with. He’s not going to be reticent. I’m looking forward to the fight. Ricardo Mayorga is at the top of the heap. Not only does he talk the talk, he walks the walk. His only downfall is he don’t train. He’s depending on his power so much, that he don’t have to train. Once we can dissuade him, which he has done very well with training for Oscar, you will have one of the greatest fighters in history. He throws punches in bunches. He holds power in both hands. This guy could truly be phenomenal. If he just dedicates and commits himself. You prepare to succeed and prepare to fail.”
Mayorga was asked to give one word to describe his opponent. “Failure,” he said. “I’m going to leave him as a failure. It’s going to be a great pleasure and I invite Tito to come to the fight, and I’ll pay his ticket to come ringside. I want for him to be a first-hand observer as to how I’m going to knock out Oscar. And I’d like to ask Don to bring me another victim. Mayweather. He will be my next opponent. They can watch how I fight. Have him start making the bakery line. I want Tito and Floyd. Either one is going to be good for me. “
With those final cutting remarks, Mayorga announced that he needed to go train, thus ending the call. If words could win a fight, then Mayorga, with the help of Don King, would already be victorious. But can an emotional fighter, with the lesser skills, beat out a well-known fighter to become the new people’s champion? Tune in to the “Danger Zone” on May 6 to find out if the Golden Boy will make way for the Matador. This “Danger Zone” fight, co-promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and Don King Productions, is set for MGM Grand and HBO PPV.