BY MIKE HOUSER
Being offensive in the boxing ring is a good thing. Being an offensive person is another story.
WBC-WBA welterweight champion Ricardo Mayorga has managed to be both lately, as he heads into his title unification fight with IBF welterweight titlist Cory Spinks, of St. Louis, Mo., tonight at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. The title bout will be one of eight on the Don King card, five of which will be shown on pay-per-view beginning at 5 p.m.
While Mayorga, 25-3-1, with 22 knockouts and one no-contest, is known as "El Matador," he fights more like a bull, having defeated former pound-for-pound claimant Vernon Forrest twice this year. Mayorga, who knocked out Andrew "Six Heads" Lewis in five rounds to annex the WBA belt in March 2002, scored a surprising three-round TKO over the previously unbeaten WBC champion Forrest on Jan. 25. The swarming punching machine from Managua, Nicaragua, defended his championship against Forrest in a July 12 rematch.
But Mayorga, known for smoking a cigarette in the ring after a fight and eating while he is weighing in to intimidate opponents, went from drawing praise for his aggressive style in the ring to raising eyebrows after his comments at a recent pre-fight press conference in New Jersey.
Using language that would make a hardened convict blush, Mayorga insulted Spinks after the IBF titlist said he was dedicating this fight to his recently deceased mother, Zadie May Calvin. Not only did Mayorga say that Spinks would be seeing his mother in Heaven because Mayorga was going to kill him, the foul-mouthed Nicaraguan reportedly launched into a profane outburst, saying (in prison slang) he was going to sexually assault Spinks and turn him into a (prison slang for a sexually submissive person).
Spinks, who won the IBF title with a 12-round decision over Michele Piccirillo in March, chose not to respond, verbally or physically.
Mayorga was not much kinder toward his opponent during a conference call with the media.
"(Spinks) is nothing," Mayorga said through an interpreter. "He means nothing to me. I'll hit him so hard, I'll make him remember his mother. After I'm through with him, after I kick his (butt), he won't be the same fighter."
Mayorga also said it didn't matter that Spinks, 31-2 (11), the son of former heavyweight champion Leon Spinks, was an elusive, slippery southpaw.
"I'll spank him, lefty or right," the 30-year-old Mayorga said. "Spinks is an amateur. He has no chance against me. Spinks knows what kind of trouble he is in. I'll basically take his head off."
For a man so seemingly mean-spirited, Mayorga incongruously grew spiritual when answering questions of what it was like being a champion and how his fans in Nicaragua treated him.
"It's a blessing and it's the most incredible feeling," Mayorga said of being champion. "I have to thank God for giving me the chance. It's not that I am good, it's God that has decided for this to happen.
"It's a beautiful thing. (The Nicaraguan fans) praise my efforts. They recognize me as one of the greatest athletes in the country. But I owe it to God."
Mayorga also managed to toss a little disdain in the direction of American boxers when he answered a question about why he wasn't fighting WBO welterweight champion Antonio Margarito instead of Spinks.
"I am a like a laborer, or an engineer," Mayorga said. "If they asked me to build a house, I'd do it. I was asked to fight Spinks first and that's what I'll do. I'd rather beat up an American, then we will see (about fighting Margarito in a unification bout). Margarito is a great Mexican fighter. I respect him as a humble man, and I don't want to take his belt away from him."
Mayorga, against the wishes of co-promoter Carl King, spoke of his plans should he beat Spinks.
"After I win I'll vacate the belts and move up to 154 to fight Shane Mosley and that (Spanish and derogatory word for homosexual) Oscar De La Hoya."
In addition to suggesting that Spinks have Federal Express deliver him some (slang word for testicles), Mayorga spewed some more venom De La Hoya's way.
"(De La Hoya) doesn't want to fight me," Mayorga said. "He knows I would beat him. He is afraid of me. Maybe if he beats Shane (Mosley) in a third fight, he'll have the guts to fight me. I don't like Oscar De La Hoya one bit. I'd like to put my hands on him. He is conceited and he is not humble at all."