Mayorga, Vargas trade barbs before punches

When "Ferocious" Fernando Vargas and Ricardo "El Matador" Mayorga face off on a rare Friday night Showtime fight, there will be no world title at stake and no guaranteed ranking for the winner.

And given the fact that this is being billed as the last fight for the 29-year-old Vargas, 26-4 with 22 knockouts, and given the trash-talking, hard-fighting nature of the two boxers, about the most prominent thing at stake for both is bragging rights to the winner.

The bout - a 12-rounder for the vacant WBC Continental Americas super middleweight belt - will be televised from the Staples Center in Los Angeles by Showtime pay-per-view boxing beginning at 7 p.m.

In the final press conference leading up to the fight Monday, there was more smack talking to be found between the two enemies than on a box set of the Jerry Springer Show.

Separated by a Plexiglas barrier supplied by the Los Angeles Kings hockey team, the pair traded insults instead of punches, which was in marked contrast to their pre-fight press conference before their fight was cancelled a couple of months back after Vargas was found to have a blood disorder.

In that confrontation Vargas cut Mayorga with a right to the face. In addition to insulting Vargas' wife, "El Matador" has enjoyed razzing his opponent about his weight.

"I am going to carry a 14-pound pig named Vargas into the ring," said Mayorga, 28-6-1 (23) with 1 no contest. "Vargas is nothing more than a pig. That is all that he is."

Mayorga continued his verbal assault by holding up a photograph.

"You see this fat girl in this photo? This is the fat girl I am going to knock out," he said. "I would like to introduce her to you today. She is Fernando Vargas. Do you know who Vargas' best friend is? It is Jenny Craig because she helps him lose weight."

The two rivals - Vargas is from Oxnard, Calif. and Mayorga is from Managua, Nicaragua - took off their shirts to better exude their machismo.

"Where's the fat now, (Mayorga)?" asked Vargas, a former two-time junior middleweight champion. "What are you going to say now you little punk? When I took my shirt off you could tell by the look in his eyes he was scared. The eyes don't lie. They tell the complete story. I saw fear.

"Mayorga stopped talking once he saw my abs. He was expecting me to be fat. Well, look at me now. He is going to do a little show like he always does, but Mayorga is scared and wants to run away. He knows he is in trouble and is going to get knocked out."

The cigarette-smoking, beer-drinking Mayorga - a former welterweight and junior middleweight champion - scoffed at Vargas' claim that he was scared. He pointed at a throng of reporters.

"Do you see any fear in my eyes? Do you? I'm not afraid of anyone, especially a coward like Vargas," Mayorga said. "I've said it all along that I am going to knock his (bleep) out! I don't like him and I never have. He keeps pushing up the weight because he is too fat. He is just a fatty who thinks he can still fight. He doesn't have any fight left in him. He is a coward.

"I'm going to hit him like he's never been hit before. He doesn't want to be in the same ring as me."

Vargas would beg to differ.

"I am a much more intelligent fighter, a much stronger fighter and a much better fighter (than Mayorga)," Vargas said. "I've been working hard since January. We're back on track and feeling great. I'm going to have Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday. Then Friday, I'm going to put it on this cat. I want to be remembered as a great champion who never left anything in the ring. The only thing I'm going to leave in the ring on Friday is Mayorga's blood.

"I'm humbled by the fact that this is my last fight and I am fighting in Los Angeles. I'm really going to soak up this win because this will be my last one."

First fight, last fight, it doesn't matter to Mayorga, who said he's already put his money where his mouth is.

"Just to show you how confident I am in myself, I went to Las Vegas and dropped $1 million on myself to win by knockout," Mayorga said. "It doesn't matter if Vargas is in shape or not. He has taken too many hits and suffered too many brutal losses. He shouldn't be in the ring anymore.

"After I knock him out, I'll explain to him how I did it because he is not going to know what hit him. If Vargas stands and fights, I will knock him out in two rounds. If he chooses to run like a Barbie doll, I will knock him out in four rounds."

It would be an understatement to say that Vargas has no love for Mayorga.

"The only time I've hated someone this much was when I fought Ross Thompson (in 2000)," Vargas said. "When I knocked him down I spit on him because he sucker-punched me at the press conference.

"I'm not going to spit on Mayorga because I'll get fined. But I am going to knock him down and tell that joke to get back up so I can knock him down again. I'm looking forward to this and putting on a great show. Mayorga is going to lose as many pints of blood as he wants to on Friday. If he keeps getting back up, he is going to keep losing more blood. It won't go past six rounds."

The pick: Vargas is the better boxer and thus should win the fight. But ever since Felix Trinidad knocked him out in 2000, he's never been the same fighter. He has a questionable chin at best.

Vargas lost his last two bouts - in 2006 - by knockout to an aging Sugar Shane Mosley. Oscar De La Hoya has knocked out both fighters.

Mayorga can be outboxed, as Cory Spinks showed in 2003 and De La Hoya did in 2006. Trinidad also showed Mayorga could be out-slugged in 2004.

But Mayorga showed he's capable of beating a world-class boxer when he stopped Vernon Forrest in three rounds in their first meeting in 2003. He may not possess the boxing skills of Vargas, but he can take a better punch.

The bout does not belong on pay-per-view, but it should be entertaining while it lasts. I'll take Mayorga by an eight-round technical knockout.


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