Shopping for entertainment, Saturday it’s either Cotto vs Mayorga or Martinez vs Dzinziruk

Being a finely tuned athlete, on occasion Ricardo Mayorga enjoys a huff and a puff on a cigarette.

Did you ever go into a clothing store and see some God-awful sweater and wonder, who in their right mind is going to buy that? Then you turn around and see some schmuck wearing that very same sweater. San Diegans are faced with a similar conundrum on Saturday and I’m wondering who in their right mind is going to lay out big bucks to see an ugly fight between Cotto and Mayorga, in lieu of a better alternative.

You can watch Miguel Cotto out box Ricardo Mayorga, a guy who’s basically washed up or watch a true champion, Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez (46-2-2, 25 KOs) in a hotly contested battle with Serhiy “Razor” Dzinziruk (37-0-0, 23 KOs) on HBO; it’s layout $49.99 or enjoy your subscription to HBO. Mayorga has averaged one fight a year over the last eight years and has a 4-4 record in that span.


At their press conference Yuri Foreman (28-1-0, 8 KOs) left, poses for a photo with promoter, Don King (center) and Pawel Wolak (28-1-0, 18 KOs) right, his opponent on Saturday evening at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

If you want to compare the undercards, Bob Arum’s supporting cast is slightly better. He has Pawel Wolak (28-1-0, 18 KOs) going up against Yuri Foreman (28-1-0, 8 KOs) and Miguel Vazquez (27-3-0, 12 KOs) going against Leonardo Zappavigna (25-0-0, 17 KOs), while the HBO under card features Andy Lee (24-1-0, 18 KOs versus Craig McEwan (19-0-0, 10 KOs).

Or maybe you’re partial to ugly sweaters? If you are, promoters Don King and Bob Arum are loving you to death. The gullible seem to be eating up their current spiel: “Our marquee pay-per-view affair entitled “Relentless,” Nicaraguan boxing superstar (since when) Ricardo Mayorga remains determined to live up to the event’s name with unyielding trash talk (he’s mastered that skill) toward WBA Super Welterweight champion and the Pride of Puerto Rico, Miguel Cotto until the first bell of their championship bout on Saturday, March 12 Live on Showtime PPV.”

That’s about all you’ll be getting from Mayorga, trash talk. At today’s press conference at the MGM Grand, the boxers delivered their final verbal blows from behind the microphone.

Ricardo Mayorga lifts up his shirt to show everyone he's in top shape for Saturday's bout against Miguel Cotto.

Ricardo Mayorga:
“I’d like to thank Bob Arum for allowing me to eat his sheep on Saturday night. I’m either going to knock Cotto down or I’m going to bust him open with a cut on one of two eyes. I guarantee you that’s going to happen in the first round. As soon as that bell sounds, I’m going after him. I’m going to kill this guy. I can sense that Cotto has a genuine fear of me. I can see it in his eyes. I can see it in his face.”

As he continued, most people were expecting to hear the lyrics from Hotel California.

Mayorga continued: “Whoever’s on Cotto’s side, they’re going to have to wear black come Sunday. Tell the athletic commission to have 911 close by the ring because Cotto is going to be in bad shape.”

He even spoke in the third person: “Ricardo Mayorga was born in Granada, Nicaragua in 1973, March 10. Today is March 9. Tomorrow I turn 38. Today I’m 37 but tomorrow I’ll be 38. I asked God personally for my birthday gift to give me this victory against Cotto. (How could God deny him such a modest request?). “I’m not only going to win. It’s going to be a brutal knockout. I’m going to see if I can break a record. I’m going to try to score the fastest knockout in the year 2011.

“This time around, I took this fight very seriously.” (He’s been more selective lately) “I sacrificed what I haven’t before. December, January and February, I sacrificed all those months not being with my family and putting my all into this training camp. I need to earn a Golden ticket. If I end the fight in the first four rounds, I think I’ve earned the respect and at the same time, the opportunity to fight Manny Pacquiao. Pacquiao knocked out Cotto in, I think, the ninth or tenth round so I want to knock him out in four so people know I’m better.”

After taking off his shirt, Mayorga remarked, “Look how ripped I am. Do I look overweight? Tell Cotto to lift his shirt up and you’ll see the beer gut he’s got.

“I guarantee you that after the fight, Cotto nor Manny (Steward) will be at the post fight press conference. Cotto will be at the hospital and Manny will be there with him.

“What are you planning on doing after I beat you? Continue in boxing or look for a job? All Nicaraguans and Latins alike, including Puerto Ricans are going to bet on me and not on Cotto because they know what the smart bet is. After the fight, they are no longer going to call him Miguel Jose Cotto. They’ll call him Miguel Jose Mayorga. I’m going to finish the job and send you back over to Ricky Martin so you can finish your job.”

Miguel Cotto:
“Mayorga can check with his promoter to see if I’m a favorite of eight to one or six to one. Then check to see who Don King bet on. We know he’s bet on the other guys many times and not his fighters.

“I can retire any time I want with all I’ve done in my career. I don’t have to do this. But I’m ready for the fight.”

In response to King’s incessant shouting from the back of the dais: “(Are) you finished?”

As Mayorga kept taunting Cotto to take the traditional face off photo from behind the dais, Cotto responded, “You can take the picture with your mother,” and left the press conference.

Don King:
“There’s no fighter that can promote a fight better than Mayorga can. He’s the most promotable fighter out here. The biggest opponent he has is himself. If he could neutralize himself, he would be undeniably unbeatable but he falls prey to himself. If he can do what he’s doing right now, dedicatedly and committedly, it’s going to be great for the sport of boxing.

“Eight to one odds? Being as gullible as I am, you think I could get a million dollars on Mayorga because I think I can see eight million coming back. Mayorga is going to surprise everyone in the world. It is something that will be categorically beautiful.

“If Cotto were to knock out Mayorga, that would be business as usual. There would be nothing to it. Nobody would have to worry about nothing that would be something. But if Mayorga knocks out Cotto, now you’ve got history in the making. Now you’ve got something that you’d never forget. You’d say, ‘I was there, I saw this fight.’ Now, we’re looking for somebody else that Arum’s got: Pacquiao. I want everything Arum has. This is the stepping stone to the inner sanctum to all the rubies and gold and jewels and I’m after them.”

Bob Arum:
“I’m a business man and as Don’s talking, all I can see is [the media] sending out the message and people, all over the country, buying the pay-per-view.

“Miguel has sold more pay-per-view homes than any other fighter in the history of Puerto Rico, in the history of the world. He’s a tremendous draw on the island of Puerto Rico which truly loves Miguel.

“When fighters get up and talk a lot, what happens? They expend energy. I told Emmanuel, let the guy keep talking. Let him talk for the next hour because Saturday night, he’ll be a lot weaker. My champion, Miguel Cotto fights in the ring and that’s where he shows his greatness because no talk means anything at the press conference.”

King interrupts, “Harvard! That’s Harvard Strategy. We’re expending energy. We will see if the intellectual strategy of Harvard prevails over the streets!”

Arum responds, “To paraphrase the Harvard fight song: With crimson flowing into the ring in defeat, they will raise the hand of the victor…Miguel Cotto.”

Emanuel Steward:
“It’s a good thing that fights are not won at press conferences because we’d be knocked out of the box. Miguel Cotto is going to knock out Mayorga. It won’t go over four rounds. [Mayorga] has been training since January but he doesn’t have the skills or the power. Miguel is in great shape, punching sharp and accurate. It’s going to be exciting. Both are known for good fights but there is no way Mayorga can avoid being knocked out inside of four rounds.

“You can talk after the fight and Don can come up and waive one flag, a white flag.

After Mayorga pulled off his shirt while interrupting Steward’s statement:
“You’re out of your class. You can pull your shirt off, you can get butt naked up here but it still doesn’t mean you’re going to win the fight. You won’t be talking after Saturday night. You won’t be pulling up nothing. You’ll be laying flat on your back. We’re planning our celebration. We’ve got two parties planned.

“As we all get older in life, we think a little bit before we do things. And I’ve noticed in watching Mayorga’s last fight, he’s slowing down on his impulsive style of fighting. Fundamental boxing will win – a solid, hard left jab [from Cotto] which will get there faster than Mayorga’s wide looping punches.

“The two most important things in fighting Mayorga are: you don’t let him bully you and just let him run you down… and you don’t block his punches; you let him miss completely.”

The media fight week schedule continues tomorrow, Thursday, March 10 at 10:30 a.m. in the Media Center at MGM Grand with a trainers roundtable. Following the roundtable, the fighters from the undercard including Yuri Foreman, Pawel Wolak, Miguel Vazquez, Lenny Zappavigna, Richard Byrant and Baltimore Ravens safety Tommy Zbikowski will assemble for a press conference at 11:30 a.m. PT.

Activities will conclude with a media Q&A moderated by Showtime’s boxing analyst Al Bernstein and promoters Arum and King discussing their storied 40-plus-year rivalry, the state of boxing and their first co-promotion in five years at 6:00 p.m. PT in the Media Center at the MGM Grand.

So, there are your choices. Cotto vs. Mayorga promoted by Top Rank, in association with Cotto Promotions, Don King Productions, Tecate and MGM Grand, produced and distributed live by Showtime PPV, beginning at 9 p.m. PT on Saturday for $49.99 or you could watch Martinez vs. Dzinziruk for free on HBO.

Of course you could drive from San Diego to Las Vegas to see the match. The gas and wear and tear on your vehicle will cost you easily $150 and the tickets are priced at $400, $300, $200, $100 and $50 for a seat where you’re going to need binoculars. The choice is yours.


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