Backing boxer Mayorga could prove costly

Sep 23, 2008 7:04 PM

Pulling No Punches by Michael Katz | If fighter A beats fighter B (twice, mind you), and fighter B beats fighter C (also twice), to believe fighter A is going to beat fighter C could be a simple formula for bankruptcy.

Especially when fighter C has been listed as high as a 10-1 favorite over fighter A.

The proof should be forthcoming this Saturday in Los Angeles when Sugar Shane Mosley, more appropriately about a 7-1 choice, takes on the very wacky Ricardo Mayorga in what passes for an HBO main event. Twice upon a time, Mayorga defeated Vernon Forrest, who earlier had twice knocked off Mosley (Shane’s first two pro defeats).

But few of my colleagues give Mayorga much more than a puncher’s chance against a guy who has never been stopped in 49 pro adventures.

Yes, Mosley has recently turned 37 and hasn’t fought since last November when he lost a unanimous, but close, 12-round decision to the then undefeated Miguel Cotto at welterweight. The Sugarman, unable to get any more meaningful opposition, has had to agree to meet Mayorga back up at junior middle.

Mayorga is the wild-swinging choice of name fighters against whom to make little comebacks. He satisfied the wishes of Felix Trinidad Jr., going out in eight rounds. For Oscar de la Hoya, he lasted only six (and Mosley twice defeated Oscar, which is how you use comparative scores to prove that Plotzboro State is better than Southern Cal).

Here’s the thing: I have little respect for Mayorga. He is a foul-mouthed boor. Remember how he told Cory Spinks that he’d soon join his recently departed mother before Spinks completely outboxed him.

He’s got some power, sure. That’s how he knocked out Forrest in the third round of their first meeting (I thought Forrest should have gotten at least a draw in their rematch). But for years he’s been training on beer and cigarettes, which doesn’t augur well for happy senior citizenship in this game. And if Mosley’s gray shows at 37, it should be noted that Mayorga next month turns 35.

Mosley had trouble with Forrest because he could not reach up against the taller man to land his combinations. That’s the same problem he had with Winky Wright. He was giving way too much height. But at 5-foot-9, Mayorga is no taller than the talented Californian. And Mosley has a listed four-inch reach advantage.

This should mean, with his significant hand-speed advantage, he’ll be able to land combination after combination. Mosley, for an erstwhile lightweight, is not a feather puncher, even at 154 pounds. All the logic in the world says this should be a one-sided fight, despite the A-beat-B-beat-C pyrotechnics.

But as usual, there is a caveat, one that prevents me from investing heavily in Mosley, even if the market elsewhere is too risky. While Mayorga admittedly partakes of beer and cigarettes, Mosley has loudly denied any involvement with steroids. The allegations have been many, including some from Victor Conte, the head of BALCO, the juice supplier.

I mention this only in passing as a warning to the bridge-jumpers among you. Otherwise, Mosley seems a lot safer than an investment firm.

The HBO show opens up with Andre Berto, an undefeated welterweight title-holder (the bottom of that list) who is still more of a prospect than a contender. He is a huge favorite (between 7-1 and 9-1) over Steve Forbes, the former junior lightweight title-holder who lasted 12 rounds with Oscar de la Hoya this year.

If Berto does take care of Forbes easily, then one must wonder how de la Hoya will fare against Manny Pacquiao in December.