Karim Mayfield hasn’t fought inside the Ballroom at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., but he’s very familiar with the atmosphere.
Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay
The San Franciscan has experienced the excitement generated by avid boxing fans, and even witnessed Andre Ward – his friend and fellow Bay Area native – solidify his elite status as universally recognized super middleweight champion by winning the Super Six World Boxing Classic in December 2011.
Fast forward almost three years, and Mayfield (18-0-1, 11 KOs) gets his opportunity to shine on such a grand stage when he faces Thomas Dulorme in a scheduled 10-round junior welterweight bout on HBO Saturday night.
Mayfield, the current NABO junior welterweight champion, wrapped up training at World Class Boxing gym on Mission Street Monday night before heading to Atlantic City.
Mayfield told SFBay he’s excited to compete at Boardwalk Hall, and has been training rigorously for the past few weeks in anticipation of the fight:
“You want to make sure that you give it your all and you don’t want to have no regrets, thinking, ‘Oh, I could have done this a little more.’ So every day has been truly rigorous … I’ve just been grinding hard for (March) 29.”
Nicknamed “Hard Hitta,” the 33-year-old will be making only his second appearance on HBO. Last time around he earned an impressive unanimous decision over crafty veteran Mauricio Herrera in October 2012.
Since then, he has only fought once, knocking out Christopher Fernandez in the eighth round of their 10-round bout last September.
Against Dulorme, a native of Carolina, Puerto Rico, Mayfield will face his most significant test so far.
Once considered a potential top contender, Dulorme (20-1, 14 KOs) has won four straight since suffering a crushing seventh-round technical knockout loss to rugged Argentine Luis Carlos Abregu on the same card that featured Mayfield vs. Herrera.
A decorated amateur with speed and power in both hands, Dulorme believes his advantages have benefited him in preparing for Mayfield’s awkward fighting style.
Mayfield, however, believes the opposite – since there has yet to be a specific blueprint on how to defeat a fighter as awkward and creative as himself:
“You can’t get prepared for an awkward style like that. He would have had to brought five fighters in with different styles, and also have them fighting in the ring at the same time and switching. My style switches at different times and it depends on how he’s coming (at me) or how I may be wanting to come (at him) at the time. So, for the most part, he has a lot to watch out for.”
Mayfield hopes to send an emphatic message to everybody in the boxing world – particularly WBA, WBC and Ring Magazine champion Danny Garcia – with an impressive victory over Dulorme.
Though he and Garcia’s father, Angel, engaged in a heated verbal confrontation on the week of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Robert Guerrero bout in Las Vegas this past May, Mayfield said he isn’t vengeful towards the Garcia family.
But that doesn’t change the fact that he was very displeased when Herrera recently got a title shot at Garcia on March 15 – which has further motivated Mayfield:
“I pretty much beat Herrera every round, so I’m sure that’s stuck in their head. To the fans, it’s like, ‘Oh, I see why Danny’s running from Mayfield. Because if he had struggled with Herrera – and Mayfield beat Herrera – I could see how the styles would probably clash.’”
Mayfield has been training under the tutelage of Oakland’s own Virgil Hunter for recent fights. But he called upon Ben Bautista – his longtime trainer and friend – to help out for a week when Hunter left camp due to contractual obligations with former unified junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan.
From their first encounter when Mayfield entered the Straight Forward Club gym at age 20 to their recent preparation for the Dulorme fight, Mayfield and Bautista’s relationship has gone beyond fighter and trainer:
“He’s been a life coach to me, overall, as opposed to a boxing coach. He’s helped me just through life and showing me how to become a responsible young man and showing me that you can do what you want to do and do what you need to do and still be a responsible man and still take care of your family.”
To this day, Mayfield has lived by one simple piece of advice that Bautista gave him right before the final round of an amateur fight:
“It was the last round and Ben said, ‘You got to thug it out!’ So that stuck in my head. ‘Thug it out’ means take it to the streets, do whatever you got to do to win this fight. I end up knocking the guy out with him just telling me that and not trying to be technical and going back to myself – because I’m from the streets and I took it back to the streets and came up with the victory.”
Despite his rough and fierce demeanor inside the ring, Mayfield is grateful for all the support he has received throughout his career. He encourages his fans to tune into HBO to see him throw down against Dulorme:
“Keep supporting your Bay boy and looking out for me, and I’m going to keep looking out for the youngsters and the ones that are coming up behind me that may aspire to do more and be champions at life – not only in the ring, but just champions overall.”
While he may be a bit flamboyant, Mayfield ultimately wants to be recognized as a good-hearted, down-to-earth person who gives back to his community by serving as an inspiration to local youth who can identify with the struggles he endured growing up in the Bay Area:
“There are people who are lawyers and doctors, but they haven’t been through the same struggle. So, I guess they feel that they can’t identify with them. But with a guy like me coming up – and they know that I’ve been through the same type of struggles and turmoil that they’ve been through – they can see that anything is possible.”