By Michael Marley
LAS VEGAS—In a city whose glistening cathedrals of chance attest to the fact that “the house always wins,” a prospector named Ricardo Mayorga is looking to get lucky.
Mayorga, the loudmouth from Nicaragua who turns age 38 today (Thursday), said on Wednesday that he views his Saturday night PPV opponent, the redoubtable Miguel Cotto, as a lottery ticket. Having tried and failed against superstars named Tito Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya while training sporadically and often unethusiastically, the chatterbox from Managua views this bout as his Last Chance Cafe, his possible Super-lotto strike.
“I need to earn a golden ticket. This is my ticket, my golden ticket,” Mayorga said while meeting the media in the bowels of the MGM Grand Garden Arena. “This is my ticket to Manny Pacquiao.
“If I don't knock Cotto out in three or four rounds, I won't get that time, I won't get the opportunity to fight Pacquiao. If I beat him in the late rounds or by decision, then I realize I might not be (deemed) as deserving of the fight against Pacquiao.”
That was in the morning, Mayorga's amusing but seemingly endless spiel about why this is only the fifth out of 37 pro bouts (make that 41 as he claims the official record gyps him out of four victories that are unrecorded) that he has religiously conditioned himself for beforehand.
In the afternoon, Sunshine Boys Reunited, meaning longtime archrivals Bob Arum and Don King barked into any and all available microphones. Taking his cue from Mayorga or vice versa, King was the proverbial broken record going on and on about how his man would smash big betting favorite Cotto, the Pride of Puerto Rico, and then destroy Pacman.
Mayorga was said to have reacted angrily in Los Angeles the other day when a media type stated that he had done nothing “to deserve” a Pacquiao fight.
“Pacquiao knocked out Cotto in the ninth or 10th round, late in the fight,” Mayorga said. “That is why I am going to knock Cotto in four rounds. (Actually, Pacman halted Cotto in the 12th and final round.)
“Then people will know that I am better than Cotto. I'm going to go out and prove that I deserve a shot at Pacquiao. In the first round, I will either knock Cotto down or bust one of his two eyes open.”
Mayorga described Cotto taking a precautionary knee against Mexican Mauler Antonio Margarito as being “very cowardly.
“Me, I don't take a knee, I don't bow out like that. That is just very cowardly.”
Adding to his delusions of grandeur, Mayorga, who was doing some political shilling by wearing a teeshirt supporting Nicraguan President Daniel Ortega, then said “half of Puerto Rico” would rooting for him to beat Cotto back.
“At least half of Puerto Rico will be rooting for me. Lots of people over there, they think that he is very snobby, that he is very stuck up. In LA, he spoke only in English which is very vulgar and disrespectful . He showed a lack of respect to the Spanish (speaking) people.”
All the prefight blather seems to be going in one of Cotto's ears and out the other.
“ I am tranquilo, I am calm,” Cotto said. “I am tranquilo, I am just trying to stay in my proper style.”
Cotto did not even fire back at the “very cowardly” remarks.
“The most important thing other than my family is my health,” Cotto said. “What Mayorga said is just ignorance.”
Mayorga and Cotto trainer Emanuel Steward share the same fight prediction in terms of distance, both saying it will not go past four rounds.
“As Mayorga has gotten older, he has really slowed down. He is fighting more conventionally, he has slowed down on the old, impulsive style. Miguel will catch him with solid left hooks and with solid left jabs. Miguel will catch him while he is swinging with all those wide, wild punches.”
Steward said Cotto and Pacquiao have something in common, besides having had Hall Of Fame careers, a distinction never attributed to the erratic Mayorga.
“We punch through the pads, the others punch to the target and not through it,” the former Kronk Gym guru said.
“Miguel and Pacquiao are the only two fighters around today who are doing that.”
If Cotto punches through early and often, that “golden ticket” for Mayorga will go uncashed.