By Ryan Maquiñana
NABO junior welterweight champion Karim “Hard Hitta” Mayfield (15-0-1, 9 KOs) of San Francisco is tentatively scheduled to defend his belt for the first time on March 29 against Aris Ambriz (16-2-1, 8 KOs) at the Landers Arena in Southaven, Mississippi.
Also on the card is a middleweight matchup between former 154-pound champ Kassim Ouma and Ishe Smith, as first reported by BoxingScene.com’s Ryan Burton.
Ambriz, a native of Azusa, Calif., has a résumé that includes a draw and a loss with Jose Reynoso as well as a fourth-round stoppage to Pier-Olivier Coté on the Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley undercard last May. He has not seen action since last June, when he scraped by Juan Santiago via six-round majority decision.
“Ambriz is a quality opponent with some pretty good power,” Mayfield said. “Unfortunately for my Bay ‘Areans’ it won’t be back home this time, but I’m ready to go and fight anywhere.”
In his last bout three months ago, Mayfield incurred a deep gash over his right eyebrow in a dominant unanimous decision victory over veteran Patrick Lopez for the vacant belt. Just two weeks ago, his physician cleared him to spar.
“It happens when you fight a southpaw like Lopez, but it’s good to go,” Mayfield said.
This fight will mark only the second bout for “Hard Hitta” at 140 pounds after a career spanning 147 to 154. Working with Victor Conte on his nutrition and fitness, Mayfield vows he will not labor to make the limit.
“I’m walking around at 56,” he said. A few weeks I get to 145 and I have to back off because you don’t want to cut [pounds] too early. I just have to watch my diet and I’ll be good.”
Currently ranked No. 9 in the WBO, Mayfield would love to ascend the rankings and get an opportunity to fight for Timothy Bradley’s title as soon as possible, whether against “Desert Storm” or someone else should Bradley move up to 147 pounds to pursue a Pacquiao fight.
“That would be great,” said Mayfield, who was one of Pacquiao’s main sparring partners for the Mosley fight. “I would love to do that, whether the belt is vacant or if I got a shot to fight the champ in Bradley. I only have 15 pro fights under my belt, but I definitely could have gave him a better fight than [Joel] Casamayor did. If I’m not ready right now at 30, I’ll never be ready.”
Ryan Maquiñana has a weekly column for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (CSNBayArea.com). He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and Ring Magazine’s Ratings Advisory Panel. E-mail him at [email protected], check out his blog at www.maqdown.com, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.