July 18, 2003

Ricardo Mayorga: Bring On The Champions

By Fiona Manning

Nicaraguan superstar Ricardo “EL Matador” Mayorga retained his WBA/WBC welterweight championships in a definitive 12 round majority decision over former WBC champion Vernon “The Viper” Forrest on Saturday night.

Mayorga, who backed up his pre-fight bluster with his second win against Forrest said that Forrest’s “bad sportsmanship before and after the fight means I will never fight him again. That fight means nothing to me now.”

In a rematch of one of the year's biggest upsets, Vernon Forrest (left) faced-off against WBC/WBA welterweight champion Ricardo Mayorga last Saturday night in The Don King-promoted "Battle Of Orleans". Photo By Mary Ann Owen

The victory stunned Forrest, who along with several other boxing “experts.” felt that the reason he lost the first fight was because he chose to brawl with Mayorga instead of using his jab to keep Mayorga at a distance and box him.

Forrest did a better job at boxing in the second fight, but did not have the skill or the ring generalship to keep Mayorga off of him.

“I proved the first fight with Vernon was not a fluke,” said Mayorga after the fight. “I proved I could take a punch and go 12 rounds”.

Jerry Roth (Las Vegas) scored the bout 114-114, Larry O’Connell (London, England) scored the fight 115-114 for Mayorga, and Ove Oveson (Copenhagen, Denmark) scored it 116-112 for Mayorga.

At the post-fight presser which Mayorga naturally attended (and which Forrest boycotted), Mayorga’s promoter Don King advised the world boxing press to “enjoy the weigh-in photos because it’s the last time you’ll see these two men standing next to each other.”

The promoter and fighter indicated that the blood was so bad between the two men that it would take “an act of congress” to initiate a third bout.

Mayorga, who celebrated his victory with beer and cigarettes, irked Forrest (who struggles to make weight) by defiantly chomping chicken as he took to the scales at the Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Friday, the day before the fight.

Initially indicating he may move up to the super welterweight division and a possible mega fight with Oscar De La Hoya, his dream is to unify the four belts of his division.

“Like everybody else, I have my boss. Don King told me that my next fight will be with Cory Spinks (the IBF welter champ). I have no preference. I just want to fight and win all the belts.

“I would love to fight Antonio Margarito who I think is the other best champion in the division. One thing is for certain, I won’t have to be chasing Antonio around the ring all night. I think Vernon got his sports confused and thought he was running a marathon.”

Mayorga easily won he first few rounds of the rematch with Forrest. Pressing the action and keeping up the pressure seemed to tire the champ who gave Forrest the middle rounds but appeared to be taunting him in the later rounds, to take the decision.

“He gave his best tonight,” said Mayorga. “He fought better than last time but there’s no snap to his punches. He hits like a sissy.”

Many in the media were surprised that Forrest had been conspicuously absent at the pre fight pressers and then bolted immediately after the decision.

He later said the judges’ decision “broke his heart” and he is now considering his career options.

King meanwhile remains gleefully adoring of the brash Mayorga, who said he expects better fights out of Margarito and Spinks, before moving up to face de la Hoya.

HBO and Don King are in agreement regarding the marketability of a Mayorga vs de la Hoya bout, but the champion said he wants two fights before the two Latino superstars meet. If the de la Hoya takes place, it most likely will be in September of next year.

“I want to face De La Hoya, but not for money, otherwise I’d just fight a bunch of corpses to stay world champion,” he said. “I would like to do the fight to prove that I am the better man in the ring. I feel that I have enough condition to beat him.”

Mayorga said his next project is to invest $50,000 to bring electric power to his wife’s neighborhood in El Sauce, León, Nicaragua (a very poor section of his Central American country).

“I’m very conscious of my commitment to my family and to the people of Nicaragua, because at least 95% of people were behind me,” he said.

Mayorga said that he felt many members of the press believed he did not have the skills or the power to defeat Forrest a second time.

“I keep telling you all,” he said. “Hunger drives a man. I respect anyone who reaches up from poverty to prove they can be the best. I beat Vernon Forrest a second time and I will beat him again but I don’t need to do this. I am on a mission and to be the best, I have to defeat the best and the best are still out there. He is not the best anymore.”

Mayorga hardly had a mark on his face after 12 rounds with Forrest and despite the post-fight jabs, actually indicated he respected Forrest for going the distance.

“I expected to beat him up in two wounds but as you can see, I was prepared for 12 rounds. As a champion, you have to be prepared to go the distance. Now I want to enjoy my family and kiss my people and then I will get ready for war again. This is my time. I thank God for giving me this day.”

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