Mayorga, Vargas Fight On Fumes And Pride

21.11.07 - Matthew Hurley: Although the Ricardo Mayorga – Fernando Vargas fight will have no real bearing on boxing’s future it has captured the imagination of many boxing fans primarily because of the reputation of both fighters. Neither of them are anywhere near their primes but it is their past that continues to intrigue their fans. And even at this late stage in their careers both men continue to approach the game with the same burning machismo and absolute willingness to go out on his shield..

Mayorga, the more reckless fighter of the two, demonstrated that almost insane bent to prove his toughness when he dropped his hands and let power puncher Felix Trinidad drop left hook bombs on his chin in their fight in 2004. Mayorga hung tough, as he always does, even knocking Trinidad down before getting stopped in the eighth round. Although his finest moment in the ring came against Vernon Forrest the first time they fought in 2003 when he knocked the welterweight champion out in a huge upset, he has recently become known as the boorish thug who fighters on the comeback trail like Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya and now Vargas choose because he’s a promotional buzz saw and all but begs to be hit in the ring. Boxing fans either love him or hate him and he enjoys nothing more than getting under his opponent’s skin with endless insulting comments.

“After I knock him out,” he recently snarled, “his wife is going to come up in the ring and have her picture taken with the real champion and that’s me. He’s done as a fighter. He doesn’t have anything left. He’s too fat to keep up with me. He doesn’t have the skills to fight me.”

Vargas, the more technically sound fighter, is also the fighter with the biggest question mark wrapped around his weary body. Endless back problems, massive fluctuations in weight and, most worrisome of all a chin that has been, perhaps, broken beyond repair have all led to this final bout. Vargas insists that he will not fight again after Mayorga and revealed that his wife and mother both begged him to retire after his second loss to Sugar Shane Mosley in 2006. His heart and determination will never be in question but whether he likes it or not, and he doesn’t, most people feel that the night he exited the ring after absorbing a vicious beating at the hands of Felix Trinidad irrevocably damaged him as fighter.

Fernando contends that the fight with Mayorga is about pride and his unwillingness to end his career on the sour note of that Mosley defeat. He feels that Mayorga’s defensive deficiencies will allow him to use his superior skills to cut the Nicaraguan down, in the same fashion that De La Hoya and Trinidad did. But that aforementioned machismo has gotten Vargas in trouble just as it has Mayorga. He let it consume him when he squared off against De La Hoya in 2002. Vargas fought evenly with his hated rival but expended so much pent up energy that he unraveled in the later rounds and was knocked out in the eleventh. His body was also juiced up on steroids, which he has always maintained he took unawares. It was a nightmarish situation for the Oxnard fighter, but he took his punishment with a measure of dignity and attempted to carry on despite increasing physical injuries. But that machismo has never been affected. He remains, in the ring at least, an angry young man.

“I don’t like anything about Mayorga,” he says. “He has a face only a mother gorilla could love. He’s a stupid fighter. I’m going to be the one to finally shut him up.”

It seemed appropriately silly that the two fighters were separated by a Plexiglas partition during the final press conference for the bout. The two had come to blows at a previous press conference so now they had to jaw at each other on opposite sides of a proverbial wall. That didn’t stop either of them from ripping off their shirts and flexing their muscles and grabbing their crotches, much to the crowd’s delight. It was all a bit ludicrous but also fun which, in the end, is what this fight has come to represent.

Article posted on 21.11.2007

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