By Ryan Maquiñana
Junior welterweight contender Karim Mayfield will be watching this Saturday’s rematch between Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado very closely, and with good reason.
“Mark Rios from the WBO told my team that I’m going to be the number one contender, so I definitely want the winner and get a shot at a title,” Mayfield told BoxingScene.com/CSNBayArea.com on Wednesday.
Rios-Alvarado II will have the WBO 140-pound interim world title at stake, and with full-fledged titleholder Juan Manuel Marquez likely to stay north at welterweight, Saturday’s victor would theoretically occupy his spot.
Mayfield (17-0-1, 10 KOs), currently ranked third behind Rios and Alvarado, respectively, broke down the matchup. Many feel Saturday’s clash could rival Tim Bradley-Ruslan Provodnikov for Fight of the Year consideration if it can just come close to their initial explosive meeting in 2012.
“In the first fight, [Alvarado] just got caught with an overhand right when they called it off, but he was still coming forward and willing to fight,” Mayfield said. “This one’s going to be a war, too. I think Alvarado will use his mobility a little bit more than the first fight, but I see Rios winning by late-round stoppage.”
Mayfield, known around his native San Francisco as “The Hard Hitta,” talked about how he would measure up to this weekend’s combatants. The Virgil Hunter-trained fighter has an unorthodox but effective style, as evidenced by his HBO debut last October, a unanimous decision over then-favored Mauricio Herrera.
“Their styles are very similar,” Mayfield said of Rios and Alvarado. “My style is unpredictable. I’ll switch up my gameplan, literally in between a round. I adapt to what my opponents do. I neutralize, and then I capitalize.”
Mayfield actually has a brief history with Rios (31-0-1, 23 KOs). Robert Garcia, Rios’s trainer, has brought Rios up with him to the Bay Area in the past.
“I sparred five rounds with Rios some time ago. He’s a great inside fighter,” Mayfield said. “But when Rios fought [Richard] Abril, Abril was able to hit, wrap up, and move. But I’m a harder puncher than Abril, and I get in lower, and I get in and make you fight at times.”
Mayfield would approach Alvarado (33-1, 23 KOs) a bit differently.
“Alvarado’s a little more dynamic, more versatile than Rios,” Mayfield said. “With him, I would actually stand in front of him, but give him all types of angles. It would definitely be an exciting fight for sure.”
After negotiations fell through to fight WBA regular titlist Khabib Allakhverdiev (ironically enough on Saturday’s co-feature, from which Allakhverdiev ended up withdrawing anyway due to injury), the 32-year-old Mayfield would welcome either route. He’s waited long enough.
“It would mean a lot, with everything me and my team have done and how hard we’ve worked just to get to this point,” Mayfield said. “To go from the Fillmore streets to a world title fight would be amazing. People around here are starting to notice me a lot more now. I’d be the real people’s champ.”
Ryan Maquiñana was the boxing producer for NBCOlympics.com during London 2012 and writes a weekly column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Ratings Panel for Ring Magazine. E-mail him at [email protected], check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.