By Ryan Maquiñana
Karim Mayfield enters arguably the most high-profile fight of his career Saturday in Atlantic City against Thomas Dulorme on HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” series.
Sure, Mayfield (18-0-1, 11 KOs) has been on HBO before. In fact, the San Francisco native hung a wide decision loss on the network over Mauricio Herrera, who turned heads just two Saturdays ago with his spirited title challenge of junior welterweight world champion Danny Garcia.
“I definitely feel slighted how (Herrera) took a loss on me on HBO and yet, he’s the one getting the big fights, the title shot,” Mayfield said. “But that’s why I signed with Top Rank, to get a title shot. We’ll see what they have to say after Saturday.”
But Dulorme (20-1, 14 KOs) matches up differently with Mayfield compared to the pressure tactics of Herrera. The talented Puerto Rican is versatile enough to box or slug, and a move down from welterweight has suited him.
Since a shocking seventh-round stoppage loss to Luis Abregu -- ironically enough in the main event to the Mayfield-Herrera co-feature in October of 2012 -- Dulorme has reinvented himself at 140 pounds with four consecutive wins.
“Why was he considered one of the top prospects?” Mayfield asked. “It’s not that he wasn’t impressive. He’s got skills. But he wasn’t fighting the type of competition on the way up that would merit that.
“With the Abregu fight, it wasn’t like Dulorme was dominating the fight before he got knocked out. Don’t get me wrong. He’s good. He’s technical. He’s athletic. But he’s been knocked out. He’s overrated, and I’m intent on proving that.”
Mayfield is in a familiar position. For the better part of his career, he has been the B-side -- the afterthought -- and this fight is no different. As a result, he is intent on ensuring that the fight will serve as more of a detour than a pit stop for Dulorme on the road back to relevance.
“It’s extra motivation seeing my name second on the poster,” said Mayfield, who has handed five fighters their first professional defeat. “I’ve always been the underdog. People called me as a fill-in thinking I’d be an easy win, and then I’d just come in and come away victorious. But coming up that way has prepared me for moments like these.”
In this business, you can’t just win; you have to win and look good doing it. Mayfield has heavy hands, but his mauling style has been panned by some as not being aesthetic enough for a wider audience (Read: television). Coming off an eighth-round knockout win where he floored Christopher Fernandez three times, “The Hard Hitta” believes he’s reaching a balance.
“I’ve been trying to make my style a little more fan-friendly,” Mayfield said. “I think that perfecting my style makes me better. Instead of crowding more and smothering my own punches, I’m backing up and getting more punches off. But to be clear, I’m not changing my style. I look at it like a style improvement.”
Count Dulorme’s promoter, Gary Shaw, as one of Mayfield’s critics. While Shaw gave Mayfield credit for having “a good pedigree,” the promoter feels the Puerto Rican’s on another level.
“I don’t believe Mayfield’s a world-class fighter,” Shaw said.
Mayfield’s response comes with some history; before signing with Top Rank, he was co-promoted by Shaw for the Herrera fight.
“He knows that’s a false statement because he was ringside when I beat Mauricio Herrera and he beat two world class fighters in (Ruslan) Provodnikov and Danny Garcia, but he got robbed,” Mayfield said. “So what does that make me? Shaw’s just talking as a promoter. I'm done with the talk; it’s time to get busy.”
Mayfield added there will be room for not one, but two postfight victory dances that draw their origin to the Bay Area.
“You’re going to see the ‘Get Low’ and the ‘Thizz Dance’ after the fight,” Mayfield said. “Come Saturday night, everyone will see what's up.”
Ryan Maquiñana was the boxing producer for NBCOlympics.com during London 2012 and writes a boxing column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and Ring Magazine's Ratings Panel. E-mail him at [email protected] , check out his blog at Norcalboxing.com or follow him on Twitter @RMaq28.