After being compelled to withdraw from the August 17th season finale of ESPN2 Friday Night Fights due to a wrist injury, junior welterweight contender Karim “Hard Hitta” Mayfield (16-0-1, 10 KOs) is now back in the gym and ready for a fight.
Mayfield – along with promoter Brian Young of Prize Fight Boxing and manager Marlon Sullivan – are searching for a top 140lb matchup against one of the big names.
Mayfield is coming off an impressive fifth round stoppage over previously unbeaten prospect Raymond Serrano that was the main event of the May 18th ESPN2 FNF telecast. Serrano was down in rounds three and four. “That is a perfect knockout punch, a blind punch, that was set up with a little subtle move to the left,” said ESPN commentator Teddy Atlas of the punch that put Serrano down at the end of the fourth round.
Mayfield walked into a gym at the “late” age of 20. Five years later he won the 2006 San Francisco Golden Gloves tournament in the 152-pound division and turned pro that same year.
In the following interview with FightNews, Mayfield discusses his recent injury, what he’s been working on in the gym, his Shane Mosley-like style, whom he’d like to fight, his thoughts on Adrien Broner, and the story behind his nickname.
I can handle pain but it was bad for a little while. We did the MRI and all of that and we figured out it was all right. Nothing extreme. I just needed to rest for a little while. I’m back now.
How long have you been back in the gym?
I’ve been back for about two weeks. I was always running and keeping up my cardio though.
What are you working on in the gym?
I am working on improving my explosive power and on throwing punches in bunches. For a long time I have gotten by on just my athleticism and my right hand. Now I am developing a really good left. Next time everyone sees me it’s gonna be something special.
What is your greatest strength as a fighter?
I’ve got power and all really good fighters have speed, athleticism, and conditioning. What separates me is that I have the will to win and I can adapt to my opponents. I can be the bull or the matador.
You had a late start and you have been fortunate to avoid any brutal fights. You’re still pretty fresh at 31. Are you at your best now?
Every fighter is gonna say that he’s at his best. For me, honestly, I am at my best but I am getting better. I don’t think I’ve peaked yet. Like I said, I am developing a really good left hand and I am starting to go to the body. Honestly, up until now, I’ve been a one-handed fighter who didn’t go to the body. Now, I’m doing it all, and I think everyone is gonna be impressed the next time they see me.
You’ve been a sparring partner for Manny Pacquiao, Sergio Mora and Antonio Margarito when these fighters were preparing for their showdowns against Shane Mosley. What makes you a twin for Mosley?
Like me, Mosley had a big right, was explosive, and was always a really strong and physical fighter. Neither of us ever look for the ref to say “break.” And, you know, we kinda have a resemblance to each other too (laughs).
You are undefeated, a likable guy, you have been on ESPN several times, you have a decent following in the Bay Area, and you have an endorsement with a skateboard company. Why haven’t you gotten a big fight?
Man, just politics. I had an outstanding amateur career, and I’ve come up the hard way. But I’m ready for anyone; it’s only a matter of time. I’m knocking on door. I just need to stay ready for one of those last minute one-week notice opportunities from a promoter.
What do you think about the big matchups coming up at 140lbs? Brandon Rios versus Mike Alvarado, Danny Garcia versus Erik Morales, and Lucas Matthysee versus Ajose Olusegun?
Those are some explosive and exciting fights, especially the Rios-Alvarado fight, and I’d like to fight the winner of any of them.
When do you plan to get back in the ring?
I’d like to get in the ring by October or November at the latest.
Who are you looking to fight?
Anybody in the top ten. Ideally, I want Danny Garcia or I’d even jump to 147lbs to fight Bradley right now. Realistically, I’m really looking to land a fight with Ruslan Provodnikov, Kendal Holt, one of the champions, or even Amir Khan.
Would you be willing to travel to someone else’s backyard for one of those fights?
Definitely. I’d go to any state or country to fight. An ass whoopin’ will be an ass whoopin’ wherever I give it.
Would you also be willing to move down to 135lbs to fight a big name?
It’s tough but I could make 135 pounds if necessary, but it would have to be against someone like Adrien Broner to make it worth it. You know, I’d treat Broner like a little brother (laughs). Where I’m from, guys like him either got swag or class and he don’t have any class. I’d rough him up like a little schoolboy. I’d brush his hair alright (laughs).
If you don’t land a big fight, will you just take someone to stay busy?
No! I’m done with that! At this point, I feel that I can fight and beat anybody so I’m gonna wait for a big fight. You know, anything can happen in the ring against anyone. I could get a bad head butt or a freak accident, and it could delay or ruin my career. No, I’m ready for the big fights.
Where’d the nickname “Hard Hitta” come from?
In the neighborhood I used to be called “Little Tyson” or “Elephant” because I was a strong and stocky guy. You know, I used to do push-ups for dollars. But with “Hard Hitta” there is some controversy (laughs). My best friend’s daughter swears she said it first after seeing me work out in the gym, but my trainer swears he said it first. I don’t know who was first but it’s here to stay.
Is there anything you want to add? What’s something the boxing world should know about Karim “Hard Hitta” Mayfield?
I’m comin’ up. People might not know who I am right now, but by the end of the year people are gonna know who Karim “Hard Hitta” Mayfield is.
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“Prize Fight sees Karim as one the top 140-pounder in the world today, ” said Nate Yoder, VP of Prize Fight Boxing. “We understand that Karim’s devastating punching power may stop a lot of contenders and some champions from stepping up to the challenge but we want to let them know that Team Mayfield is ready and willing to take on all comers. Karim has never backed down from any fighter and won’t start now. So who wants to step up?”