By Mike Indri
Retired Boxers Foundation
If this past Saturday night proved anything to the millions of boxing fans, especially those that tuned into Showtime’s Jose Rivera vs. Alejandro Garcia battle or paid to see Oscar De La Hoya pummel Ricardo Mayorga on HBO’s Pay-Per-View, it’s that sometimes justice does get served. To Jose Rivera, a Worcester, Ma. Court officer and the new WBA Super Welterweight World Champion, justice has prevailed, and it was sweet!
The classy, hardworking and under-appreciated Rivera will always be connected with the drastically over-rated, foul-mouthed Mayorga ever since that fateful night of April 17, 2004 when the so called “El Matador” failed to make the 147lb. weight limit to challenge for Rivera’s WBA welterweight crown.
Only in the sport of boxing would the then-world champion be punished for the despicable display of disrespect and lack of class on the part of Mayorga, since tagged with the more appropriate “El Pollo” moniker.
“El Pollo” weighed in at an unprepared and not battle ready 155lbs for his championship opportunity against Rivera, who had to travel to Germany to win his title on hostile ground (12 round Majority Decision over then undefeated Michel Trabant, 38-0, in his hometown of Berlin.
Rivera lost out on fighting for the highest purse ($250,000) in his career and actually was pulled off the Madison Square Garden card, while Mayorga was rewarded with a softer opponent (Eric Mitchell 16-3-1) whom he out-pointed in a lackluster 10 round effort.
So listening to Mayorga whine and threaten to pull out of his two million dollar payday against Oscar De La Hoya had the same “crying wolf” effect as his boasts of not only knocking out De La Hoya, but physically damaging his heart and breaking his eye sockets!
Aside from Mayorga’s WBC super welterweight belt and notorious character, the only real reason warranting his realization of another seven figure check was the fact that he was, in all actuality, a very easy and safe opponent for Oscar, who was returning to the ring 20 months after his knockout loss at the hands of Bernard Hopkins.
The hardest part of the entire ordeal for De La Hoya was the months of Mayorga’s verbal tirades during the fight’s promotion. Once the “fighting” began to take place inside the ring the contest was over after the first few of De La Hoya’s bristling left hooks, which dropped the severely over-matched and under-skilled Nicaraguan brawler.
Six rounds of “Golden Boy” dominance ensued, until a thoroughly annihilated Mayorga would get pounded to the canvas again, and following several more De La Hoya blows against the defenseless cigarette smoker, the one-sided bout was mercifully halted.
While this mega-bout was taking place in front of a sell-out crowd of 15,000 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the DCU Center in downtown Worcester, Ma. played host to slightly less than 5,000 fans who witnessed their hometown hero Jose “El Gallo” Rivera defeat heavily favored defending WBA super welterweight champion Alejandro Garcia.
Returning to the very site where Rivera had lost his WBC welterweight crown, in his first defense, against Luis Collazo (via 12 round split-decision 04/02/05), the likable Rivera refused to be denied and set the tone of the fight by dropping the bigger punching Garcia (now 25-2, 24 KO’s) twice in the first round.
Rivera felt comfortable fighting at the higher 154lb. weight, and obviously appeared stronger as he would register three more knockdowns (five total) during the twelve round slugfest. Rivera was sent to the canvas for the first time in his 43-fight pro career in round four, by a potent Garcia right hand.
Awaiting the judge’s decision after round twelve was much different this time for Rivera, who improved to 38-4-1 (24 KO’s), and rejoiced upon hearing the 116-110, 114-108 and 116-110 scores, declaring one of the nicest guys in boxing a world champion once again!
Jose Rivera does his “talking” inside the squared circle, while it seems Ricardo Mayorga does his best “fighting” outside the ring.
Rivera never was able to make up that $250,000 payday he lost due to Mayorga’s unprofessional character and lack of respect towards a champion fighter. On the other hand, it’s that same notorious character that has greatly contributed to the financial self-benefit of “El Pollo.”
Now it’s time for Ricardo Mayorga to walk the talk…or simply, stop talking!
Two fighters connected through adversity, both now at 154lbs., with a definite score to settle, as well as a world title belt to be defended.
Not that Mayorga deserves another shot at a championship; rather that Rivera deserves his shot at Mayorga… once and for all.