I realize that I'm in the minority of MMA fans that also follow boxing, but I wonder how many others join me in my interest over the upcoming SHINE Fights card on May 15th. This, of course, is the event headlined by veteran Din Thomas and former consensus world welterweight boxing champion Ricardo Mayorga. It is my understanding that this bout will be contested at a catch weight of 160 pounds and that it will be fought in a ring. One of the things that I enjoy so much about MMA is the standing challenge for athletes from all types of combat sports backgrounds to bring their game into the sport of MMA and test their skills. It doesn't matter if you were a world class wrestler, judoka, boxer or Sambo practitioner. We're open to you trying your hand at our sport. Because, ultimately, many of us enjoy seeing fighters test themselves against different styles. In regard to Mayorga, one could argue that there has yet to be a more dangerous representative of boxing enter MMA. I know that some of our readers follow the sport of boxing but for those that don't here's a little perspective. A little over 6 years ago Mayorga was considered the top ranked 147 pound boxer on the planet, having four straight wins over top five competition. This included an impressive knockout of former world champion Vernon Forrest (who was never knocked out by any fighter other than Mayorga). In a division ruled by boxers with impeccable amateur pedigrees and slick, versatile styles Mayorga climbed to the top of the heap thanks in large part to raw punching power, aggression and durability. I rarely saw the guy involved in a boring fight and I don't expect May 15th to be any exception. In full disclosure, I expect Din Thomas (even those he's coming back up from the featherweight division) to win this fight. However, Mayorga is a real threat to any lightweight in this sport and I don't see this fight leaving the first round no matter who is victorious. Mayorga's entry into our sport offers me a measure of intrigue for a few reasons:
More after the jump:
- At 36, Mayorga isn't too far removed from his glory days. Now, what I won't argue is that he is still a top 10 caliber world class boxer. However, he still has more than enough in the tank to defeat most 154 pound boxers and could still go a lot of rounds with almost every fighter in that division's top 10 ranks.
- Power is the last thing to go on a fighter and the prospect of seeing Ricardo throwing down with four ounce gloves on is of interest to me. Fighters simply don't have the option of standing in the pocket with the guy. They need to either clinch and strike, get the takedown or in some other capacity move out of the way. Trading punches with Mayorga in four ounce gloves will end poorly. Boxers that possess real knockout power are the ones that are most likely to represent their sport well in MMA. Mayorga is certainly in that category.
- Quite simply, Mayorga has the credentials in his base combat sport to make this fight appealing to me. He was the legitimate world champion in his weight class (and not just the owner of one of the hundreds of "title belts") and has been fighting top 147-154 pound competition for years. After all, this is a guy that, although well past his prime, went almost 12 full rounds with world champion Shane Mosley approximately a year and a half ago. Sure, James Toney will end up being the most credentialed boxer to step into MMA, but at 41 years old he is significantly longer in the tooth than is Mayorga. Ricardo is past his prime but he still poses a very real danger that should make for an interesting matchup on May 15th.
As stated earlier, I foresee Thomas taking the victory but here is a legitimate question to ask yourself: How many fighters in MMA have attained a higher level of success in their base combat sport than Mayorga has in his? I guarantee you that it's a small minority of fighters that could make such a claim. Again, I realize that because I follow both sports I might be in the minority but I, for one, am anxious to see how this event plays out and will definitely be watching with much interest. What are your thoughts? Any interest at all in this event?