By Sean Waisglass: Poor Ricardo Mayorga. First Oscar De La Hoya busts him in the chops and takes his junior middleweight belt, then he gets kicked in the groin by journalists while he's down.
Surf the web's boxing columns that covered De La Hoya's emphatic sixth round TKO win last Saturday (which will be replayed this Saturday before Hatton/Collazo on HBO), and note the consistency of discrediting remarks as they contextualize the fight.
"Sure," everybody agrees, "Oscar looked great." But then they slip the caveat that Mayorga was a perfectly picked opponent to make him look great. This in spite of the unforeseen 'bullying of the bully' by De La Hoya and the resulting mid-match stoppage that came as a surprise to most analysts and observers.
It was a result only fellow future Hall of Famer Felix Trinidad has been able to achieve against the Nicaraguan slugger, and Tito did it at 160lbs - a good division or two higher than Mayorga's prime weight - and had to work through a flash knockdown and some heavy leather to get it done.
We're witnessing revisionist history in the making, written by many the same people who had Mayorga in their top 10 Pound for Pound lists throughout most of 2003. The rugged former undisputed welterweight champion loses scrappy contests by KO to a couple of this era's best boxers, and all of the sudden the guy's getting retroactively typecast as tailor-made for top shelf fighters to look good against.
Mayorga, now 28-6-1 (23), whose first three losses came early in his career, may be rough and raw rather than fundamentally sound (that is, he's more "street science" than "sweet science ") but he's proven his vaunted rock-fisted power and pit bull-like aggression to be very effective nonetheless.
He first got noticed in early '03 by clobbering the crafty undefeated Andrew "Six Heads" Lewis for a belt, then captivated the boxing scene when he unified by stunningly knocking out another undefeated boxer in Vernon Forrest just under a year later. Forrest, as we may recall, was coming off of two major wins over a prime Shane Mosley (who's only lost since to one of the best in the world in Winky Wright). Mayorga then impressively decisioned Forrest in their rematch, proving the first time was no fluke.
Then in a 're-unification' bout with slick southpaw Corey Spinks, he lost a majority decision which some argued should have gone his way, and that notably would have been a draw on the cards had the 'overly enthusiastic' Mayorga not had a couple of points deducted for fouling.
After the brutal Trinidad loss, Mayorga showed few ill effects, and roughed up and outworked Michele Piccarillo, who was the offensive-minded banger's third top 10-rated tricky stick-and-move southpaw in seven bouts. Of the six opponents over the course of those seven bouts, five either held or had held title belts (of various authenticities, of course), and two were or had been semi-unified champs and considered Pound for Pounders at one point.
Admittedly Mayorga, although a cocky mind game specialist both in and out of the ring, is not an expert boxer. But he's still shown himself to still be a damn good fighter - and Oscar flat out busted him up and broke him down last week. Ignore the fact that De La Hoya was coming off both the longest layoff and only knockout loss of his career (to middleweight king Bernard Hopkins), and the dominant nature of his win still ranks as one of the best overall performances on his resume.
Mayorga was a dangerous test for the returning not-quite-as-Golden Boy, and De La Hoya, now 38-4 (30), a hard working student under the tutelage of trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr., passed with flying colours. He should get full credit. Boxing scribes and chat room-junkies shouldn't be tarnishing this Golden win for the Golden Guy by disrespecting and downplaying the abilities - no matter how unorthodox - of Mayorga.
Not convinced? Simply try a bit of Linear Champ Logistics:
Have a look at most of the non-Alphabet Syndicate welterweight division rankings. Who's at the top? Carlos Baldomir. Why? Not because he's the obvious cream of the 147 pound crop, but because he beat then-champ Zab Judah.
Judah was the champ because he beat Corey Spinks. And how did Spinks gain legitimacy? That's right, by beating Ricardo Mayorga.
That means the only reason the tough but limited journeyman Baldomir is on top of everybody's list rather than fellow welterweight Floyd Mayweather, who's considered the best boxer in the world, is because he beat the guy who beat the guy who beat Mayorga.
And how did Ricardo Mayorga come to be part of the welterweight linear link himself? By beating Forrest twice, who in turn, had beaten Mosley twice. And Mosley, of course, had gained both his champion status and lofty Pound for Pound stature by beating none other than Saturday's winner - the freshly re-polished Golden Boy.
May 11, 2006