Spinks bears bull's-eye for `Matador' Mayorga

Hard-hitting, hard-living Nicaraguan aims for top


December 10, 2003|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

By his very nature, Ricardo Mayorga is boxing's oxymoron.

The Nicaraguan fighter has been known to sip hard liquor between rounds when sparring and smoke a pack of cigarettes daily, yet be able to fight with endless stamina and ferocity.

He is nicknamed "El Matador," but it's Mayorga who is the bull in his bouts, often charging ahead with reckless abandon.

On Saturday, Mayorga faces Cory Spinks in a welterweight world title bout, one of five pay-per-view fights from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. Mayorga holds the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association crowns, and Spinks, son of former heavyweight Leon Spinks, possesses the International Boxing Federation's 147-pound title.

In the main event, Silver Spring native William Joppy will fight undisputed middleweight champ Bernard Hopkins of Philadelphia, holder of the WBA, WBC and IBF belts.

After scoring a third-round knockout in his first of two stunning wins over former world champion Vernon Forrest, Mayorga lit a cigarette in the ring. During their second meeting, a 12-round decision, Mayorga dropped his hands and let Forrest repeatedly drill him.

Mayorga, 30, recently told Sports Illustrated he prays his punches never result in a death. Yet, at an Oct. 9 news conference, the married father of two girls vowed to send his rival to heaven.

"I'm going to reunite you with your whole family who happens to be upstairs with our lord Jesus Christ," Mayorga said, referring to Spinks' late mother and brother. "I'll stay here with my family that's alive and well."

Spinks was unfazed.

"He's crazy. Where I come from, dudes like him come a dime a dozen. So that's not scaring me at all," said Spinks. Born five days after his father defeated Muhammad Ali in 1978, he also is the nephew of Michael Spinks, who twice consecutively crafted victories over previously unbeaten Larry Holmes.

"They call boxing an art. Come Dec. 13, I'm going to paint me a beautiful picture with this dude."

Hopkins, 38, goes after his fourth straight knockout against Joppy, along with his middleweight-record 17th straight title defense having been reunited with longtime trainer Bouie Fisher.

The two had split for a time after Hopkins' 14th-round knockout of Felix Trinidad in 2001, a feat that earned Hopkins Fighter of the Year from the Boxing Writers Association and made Fisher Trainer of the Year.

As Fisher trained Baltimore heavyweight Hasim Rahman for what turned out to be a 2002 loss to Evander Holyfield, Hopkins fought on without him, scoring late-round stoppages of Carl Daniels and Hakkar Morrade. But the trainer and fighter have settled their differences, Hopkins said.

"We had a spat. We hadn't spoke in about eight or nine months. But we'd been together for 13 years, so nine months can't oversee the time of 13 years," Hopkins said.

Hopkins and Joppy have sparred verbally and gone after each other physically.

"I rate him, from A to Z, about a C-minus," Hopkins said of Joppy.

Joppy promised to expose Hopkins as a "basic fighter."

"Bernard Hopkins is a coward who talks tough." Joppy said. "He's a bully. And growing up, I bullied the bully. He's a sheep in a gorilla suit."

Fight facts

Site: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, N.J.

When: Saturday, 8 p.m.

Bouts: In order of scheduled appearance:

Zab Judah (29-1, 21 KOs) vs. Jaime Rangel (29-4, 25 KOs), junior welterweights

Alejandro Garcia (22-0, 21 KOs) vs. Travis Samms (22-0, 17 KOs), super welterweights

Hasim Rahman (35-4-1, 29 KOs) vs. John Ruiz (38-5-1, 27 KOs), heavyweights

Ricardo Mayorga (25-3-2, 22 KOs) vs. Cory Spinks (31-2, 11 KOs), welterweights

William Joppy (34-2-1, 25 KOs) vs. Bernard Hopkins (42-2-1, 31 KOs), middleweights

TV: Pay-per-view

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