By Chris Robinson
In Los Angeles, the world's number one fighter, Manny Pacquiao, is preparing himself for battle inside of the Wild Card Boxing Club as his May 7th fight with Shane Mosley draws near. While some have disregarded Mosley as a formidable opponent, there is no denying Pacquiao's drawing power, as the MGM Grand in Las Vegas is already completely sold out for the WBO welterweight title fight.
Reports from Pacquiao's camp have him looking very sharp thus far. One man with a perspective of the General Santos City-born fighter unlike any other is that of welterweight prospect Karim 'Heavy Hitta' Mayfield, who has been serving as one of his main sparring partners for this particular camp.
Mayfield is a very engaging individual and by all means he isn't your typical sparring partner. After a few conversations with the San Francisco native there was much that he was able to bring to light on Pacquiao and other characters in the boxing world.
Keeping pace with Pacquiao
Mayfield was brought into Pacquiao's camp by Freddie Roach, who knew well that Mayfield helped to get Antonio Margarito and Sergio Mora ready for their respective bouts against Mosley. The 30-year says that the sessions between him and the Filipino star are getting more intense by the day and he can see the improvement.
"Everything's going real well," said Mayfield on Wednesday afternoon. "Manny's definitely getting stronger. As the camp progresses he's starting to get the punch count up. I feel that I am getting stronger too so I am definitely keeping up the competition level for him."
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At age 39, Mosley is definitely facing an uphill battle and Mayfield can't see anything but a Pacquiao victory next month. Mayfield insists that there aren't any lefties in the game like Pacquiao.
"He has speed, power, and a lot of angles," Mayfield said Pacquiao. "No other southpaws are doing what he's doing. You can't really mimic a Pacquiao. That style overall just makes him who he is. His style of punching is not the average style. There's not a particular style that he throws, he's a power puncher."
Learning from Mayweather Sr.
I remember coming face to face with Mayfield last November at the Pound 4 Pound Gym in Las Vegas moments before a daily sparring session with Panama's Celestino Caballero. Working with Mayfield at the time was trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. but the two have since went their separate ways, but not because of any ill feelings.
Mayfield was eyeing a date on the November 27th Andre Ward-Sakio Bika undercard but saw the fight fall apart after his opponent withdrew from the bout. Mayfield said that he was investing too much money into his training camps in Las Vegas to continue working with Floyd Sr. without any secured bouts on the horizon.
While Mayfield may be back in California, he definitely appreciated his time with Papa Floyd.
"I took a lot from him. One thing he showed me was speed and defense. That was definitely a good look," he said.
I asked Mayfield for his thoughts on Mayweather's son Floyd Jr. and whether he expected to see him in the ring again.
"He will definitely again. The world will demand that he can come out and fight. [He's] definitely one of the greatest of his time. I don't know if I can say the greatest of all time, but his defense is immaculate and he does what he has to do to win the fight. That's all that matters."
Feeling sorrow for Hatton
"They treated me like royalty."
That's what Mayfield had to tell me about his time in England in late 2007 as he helped then-undefeated Ricky Hatton prepare for his hotly-anticipated duel with the undefeated and aforementioned Mayweather. While Mayfield and Hatton hit it off right from the start, he was given the exit sooner than expected because his style didn't fully emulate Floyd's.
"I had to leave camp early because I wasn't what they were looking for," said a bemused Mayfield. "They said I was pot shotting him too much but come fight time, Floyd did the same thing."
Last September Hatton was caught up in a well-documented cocaine scandal in Manchester that hit him very hard. I asked Mayfield if it was difficult to see his friend going through such trying times and if he felt he could bounce back.
"Yeah actually it did," said Mayfield. "He's one of those people, he's the people's champion. He doesn't want to let people down and doesn't want to let his friends and family down. But for the most part I would like to see him get on track. He can still get it back."
A bruising time with Margarito
In late 2008 Mayfield could be found giving Antonio Margarito some lively work as the Tijuana fighter prepared for his own bout against Shane. Mayfield doesn't deny just how much of a task it was trying to hold off the always-pressing former champion.
"Sparring Margarito, that was one of the most difficult training camps because I wasn't used to that type of pressure," Mayfield said. "He was a big guy, he came to camp at 175 pounds. It prepared me to get ready for a style like that and it gave me a lot of experience. He was pounding other sparring partners. He broke one sparring partner's orbital bone, he broke another kid's ribs, he had been dropping sparring partners two at a time. But I definitely had him figured out after the first week and I've taken the whole experience to use against other pressure fighters."
Margarito would end up losing to Mosley via brutal 9th round TKO and was also found to have tampered hand wraps prior to the fight, a discovery that has left his reputation and career forever tainted in the eyes of some. Still, Margarito is back in the picture, coming off a decision loss to Pacquiao last November and eyeing a summer rematch with WBA junior middleweight champion Miguel Cotto, whom he stopped in the late rounds nearly three years ago.
Mayfield feels that another go-round with Margarito and Cotto makes sense.
"It's a good fight because he definitely deserves redemption. That would be a good fight for them and for everybody to see."
Having turned pro at 25 years of age, Mayfield is a definite late bloomer in the sport but has shown much ambition in compiling a 13-0 mark with 8 knockouts. Still, he has seen many of his recent fights fall through and has been inactive since his 5th round TKO over Sergio Joel De La Torre last June.
Mayfield told me that he is looking to ride his momentum from this camp with Pacquiao onto an appearance on the Andre Ward-Arthur Abraham undercard at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California on May 14th.