Friday, February 9, 2007


LAS VEGAS - It only costs about ten bucks for a pack of smokes and a six pack, so why does Ricardo Mayorga need eight million dollars to fight Oscar De La Hoya on Saturday night? Mayorga's training routine is rumored to consist of Budweiser and Marlboros so yesterday the Nicaraguan wild-man caused some panic when he said if he doesn't get his millions, "I won't fight."

It could be that Mayorga has truly has lost his mind, but the final pre-fight press conference was delayed an hour because he claimed that unless his paycheck was upped by six million dollars there would be no fight. "If I don't get my money, I'm not going to fight. I'm going to make what I deserve. I don't want it to be like the Trinidad fight where Trinidad got all the money." Despite the fact that Mayorga already signed a contract that guaranteed him somewhere in the neighborhood of two million dollars he said he was serious about his demand.

The promoters of the bout were both shaken and stirred by Mayorga's attempt at extortion. After a closed door meeting with the mercurial WBC Super Welterweight titlist, Don King emerged and was uncharacteristically mute. Oscar appeared as though he may have been slapped in the back of the head again by Mayorga.

If this is another ploy by Mayorga to disrupt the often-sensitive De La Hoya (who I saw blush one day in Denver when Hector Camacho called him a "pretty boy") it just might be working. De La Hoya, by all accounts of those that know him well, does not like confrontation and for the past several months Mayorga has been nothing but a constant aggravation.

During every step of the multi-city press tour to promote this bout De La Hoya was forced to sustain a humiliating barrage of insults and personal attacks. During one stop in Chicago, Mayorga slapped De La Hoya in the back of the head. When Oscar becomes unsettled he will clench his teeth and his jaw muscles visibly tighten and during the final press conference Oscar looked as though he might wear his teeth down to nubs. When the usually cordial and polite De La Hoya spoke yesterday he had this to say and he was clearly upset, "Mayorga made the biggest mistake of his life by talking the way he has from the beginning of this promotion. He definitely got under my skin but he certainly did not get in my head. He doesn't realize that he's made it worse for himself and on Saturday night he's going to know what I am talking about."

While his outrageous comments and actions infuriate many, Mayorga can often be seen grinning and smirking after he goes off on his tirades. For all of his foul language and crass behavior, Mayorga can be amusing and he has more one liners than many of the acts on the Vegas strip.

Mayorga, who would like nothing more than to tear a drumstick from De La Hoya on Saturday night, claims he trained with chickens during his training camp so that he could be ready when De La Hoya runs from him.

Upon arriving at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas on Tuesday morning, Mayorga, speaking from behind dark sunglasses proclaimed to the assembled press, "I left my training chickens in Miami because I don't need them anymore. The real chicken is already here. I know he's horrified and nervous with everything that I have said to him throughout this promotion." And then he grinned.

Mayorga is nothing if not macho and he walks with a swagger that would make John Wayne proud. As he strode through the MGM Grand lobby on Tuesday morning he did so with the championship belt strung over his shoulder like a cowboy with his six shooter. Mayorga claims he has hatred and a dislike for De La Hoya that he just cannot identify and said recently, "It's like when you go back to the school yard, you know, there's a kid that you never met once in your life. You see him, you know, you've never spoken to the kid, but you just don't like him. That's the best analogy I can use, I just don't like him. You know, simply put, I just don't like him. There's really no explanation behind it."

While Oscar proudly states that he has never been in a street fight in his life, "I was always able to talk myself out of them" he says. Mayorga, on the other hand, was a former gang member in his native Managua, Nicaragua. He has knife scars that crisscross his arms and shoulders like badges of honor. To prove it, he'll roll up his sleeves or take off his shirt to show anyone the old scars and he proudly boasts, "I'm not a mama's boy like Oscar." And then he smirks.

Through all of the blather and outrageous behavior there is a seriousness about Mayorga that is compelling. His coal dark eyes say as much as his rapid fire tongue and he has promised his beloved mother that he's not only going to win on Saturday night, but that he's going to knock Oscar De La Hoya out.

Mayorga locked himself away in training for this bout and he deprived himself of his cigarettes, his beer, his food and his family. Giving up all of those pleasures motivated him and he says he's going to make De La Hoya pay for all of it. When asked if the anger he had for De La Hoya was more than for other opponents he said it was, "Even more so now. You know being away from my family for so long, away from them for my birthday, I wasn't able to celebrate. I was here for my birthday by myself. I wasn't able to have my Easter dinner with them like I usually do and I attribute it all to him."

One thing's for sure, if Ricardo Mayorga upsets Oscar De La Hoya on Saturday night like he says he will, there will be a helluva party - with all of the cigarettes he can smoke and all of the beer that he can drink.

May 2006

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