Former IBF cruiserweight champ Imamu Mayfield could very easily be looked at as a road warrior. The man from New Jersey often packed his bags for a fight: be it in the U.K, in Germany, in Poland, in Argentina or in Russia. Often, Mayfield came home with a loss, not always a fair and square defeat, he insists. In fact, the tall and aggressive counter-puncher maintains that, at his best, he never lost a single fight.
Holding the IBF belt at 190 pounds in 1997 and 1998, Mayfield, like practically all other cruiser champs, tried his hand up at heavyweight – with mixed results. Today, though, Mayfield says he should be recognised and appreciated as one of the best fighters who “has a bad record.”
But as he explains here, Mayfield, 26-10-3(19) is not done fighting quite yet:
Q: What was your amateur record?
Imamu Mayfield: “I had 11 amateur fights. I won them all by KO, excpect for maybe one or two. That’s why nobody would fight me. I’m 47 now and still nobody will fight me! I won the Golden Gloves a couple of times, I went to the nationals. I was training all the time.”
Q: You plan to fight again?
I.M: “Yes, I promise you, 2020. I’ll be back at cruiserweight. Call me again then. But I doubt anyone will fight me!”
Q: You fought all over the world in your career – including, Poland, UK, Russia, Argentina…….
I.M: (jumping in) “I made my first world title defence in the UK, in Hull, after I won the IBF belt. I had beaten Uriah Grant (W12 in Novmber of ’97) who had tried for years to win a world title. Anyway, I beat him to get the IBF title and he was Carl King’s fighter at that time. They didn’t expect me to beat him, or want me to beat him. But I beat him up and they couldn’t deny me. But then they had me fight in England in my first defence.”
Q: What did you know about Dunstan, who was 17-0 at that time?
I.M: “I didn’t know much about him at all. But to me, if you’re a fighter and you’re prepared, ready, fully fit, it don’t matter where the fight is held. No way. Either you’re ready or you’re not. I can say honestly today, when I was at my best and fully prepared to fight, nobody beat me – nobody hurt me. But in time I took fights just for the money, when I wasn’t anything like at my best. But back then, against Dunstan, it’s funny. You know Jim Watt, he was commentating for that fight; I could hear him. But he beat my corner-man and trainer, Howard Davis Junior, he beat him to become (lightweight) champion (actually a title defence victory for Watt). Now I beat Dunstan over there [UK]. It was a case of full circle. Now they all knew who I was (Mayfield KO 11 over Dunstan).”
Q: You lost your belt in your next fight, when you fought Arthur Weathers (TKO by 9). But you were supposed to fight another guy instead?
I.M: “Yeah, I was suppsoed to fight Saul Montana. But the Weathers fight, I didn’t train right, I wasn’t properly prepared and we lost that one. You know, you win some, you lose some. I don’t think the right thing for a fighter who has been robbed, or beaten unfairly, is to make excuses, you know? You have to take it: win some, lose some. But all these years later, I wish that I’d had a chance to fight Weathers against. Oh, man, I know I’d have knocked him out!”
Q: What about your fight with Juan Carlos Gomez, who you fought for the WBC cruiser title in yet another country, Germany, three fights later (KO 3)?
I.M: “He wasn’t that good a fighter. I took the fight on short notice, for the money. I was injured going into that fight, I had a bad gash on my hand and I couldn’t spar.”
Q: You had yet another big cruiserweight opportunity just two fights after the Gomez loss, when you went to Argentina to fight Jorge Castro in an IBF final eliminator (a 9th round corner retirement loss in 2001)?
I.M: “I remember that fight vividly. I had just beaten Gary Wilcox to win the USBA title, and this was back before they raised the [cruiserweight] limit from 190 to 200 pounds. I was again fighting with short notice, and the Castro fight, I arrived in Argentina very overweight. I ran on the treadmill, the day before the fight – I ran 23 miles! I had to lose weight and I had absolutely nothing left after.”
Q: Nonetheless, you had yet another big fight in 2006, against Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, in Poland. You had fought up at heavyweight by then, though?
I.M: “I fought at heavyweight, yeah. I beat Peter Okello, who went on to fight for the WBC belt. I beat him by decision. I let him know that he couldn’t just come at me; I hit him and I hurt him and I outboxed him. The fight in Poland, I won that. At that time, he [Wlodarczyk] was knocking everybody out. I beat the crap out of him. And you know, you can’t find that fight – not anywhere (a pts win for the Pole)! And another thing about that fight, they gave me gloves that were too small. I have big hands, and they gave us way too small gloves. I couldn’t even ball my fist properly. To my experience, we could pick our gloves the day before the fight. But not here; we were given the gloves right there in the dressing room before the fight.”
Q: You fought some more heavyweight names, such as Alexander Povetkin (KO 3 in 2006)?
I.M: “Yeah, he was on steroids then. We never knew it at the time but we found out later. They weren’t testing him back then. But again, making excuses for losses ain’t the answer. Look at it this way’ so many great fighters, some of the best ever, have the worst-looking records. That’s me. And even now, at age 47, no-one will fight me. Trust me, though, I’m coming back for a big 2020. I fought three times in 2016/17, but that was at heavyweight (winning one, losing one, one draw) – and after eight years out. Now I’m back down to cruiserweight and I mean business.”