April 2, 2011
Saturday night, Manny Pac-Man Pacquiao makes his much awaited return to Los Angeles, and a heros welcome full of rabid fans and camera crews will await him at the airport.One day later, San Francisco native Karim Mayfields arrival at LAX will be met with much less fanfare, but his role within Team Pacquiao will be vital to the current pound-for-pound champions success.Nicknamed The Hard Hitta, Mayfield (13-0-1, 8 KOs) has received the call to be Pacquiaos next sparring partner for the Filipinos May 7 defense of his WBO welterweight title against Sugar Shane Mosley on Showtime Pay-Per-View.With my style and strength, I feel they picked me for that, said Mayfield, a Washington High product who grew up in the Fillmore. They said that Freddie Roach remembered me and thought Id actually be a good man for the job.Such a fortuitous opportunity could not have come at a better time for the 30-year-old. His undefeated record and heavy hands have led to numerous opponents pulling out of bouts at the last minute, including one set for April 15 at Longshoremens Hall in San Francisco. With his last bout, a fifth-round stoppage of Sergio De La Torre at Kezar Pavilion, coming a distant ten months ago, this latest period of inactivity has left Mayfields career stuck in neutral. According to Mayfield, he kept in touch with Gary Poole, the author of Pacquiaos biography, who along with Roach, paved the way for the fighters trip to Hollywood. Perhaps this months trip will open some doors for him.Ive had so many opponents pull out on me in the last second that I should be 18-0, he said. Im hoping this camp will help me get some more exposure to get my name out there.Mayfield has made a name for himself in boxing circles as a sparring partner for some of the sports elite fighters. He once traveled to England to prepare Ricky Hatton for Floyd Mayweather, and later sparred Andre Ward across the Bay in Oaklands Kings Gym. However, it is his familiarity emulating Mosleys style as a sparring partner for Antonio Margarito and Sergio Mora that has made him a sought after man by Pacquiao and his coach, four-time Trainer of the Year Freddie Roach.I possess a natural overhand right that Ive started off with since I was an amateur, and thats what Shane is known for, said Mayfield. Over the years, Ive picked up my left hook, and Shane throws those left hooks. Also at times, Shane may hit and clinch, and I know how to clinch whenever I need to. With Margo (Margarito), Shane would hit him in the clinch, and Im assuming hes going to try to do the same thing with Pacquiao with the strength Pacquiao has throwing many punches.A Manny Pacquiao training camp is a circus unlike any other. Between the CBSShowtime Fight Camp 360 cameras that will shadow the champions every move and perpetual controversy surrounding his entourage, its easy for anyone to get caught up in the madness. Not Mayfield.Everybody sees a world-class fighter like Manny and gets star-struck, he said, but you have to realize that hes just another dude like the rest of us. Hes a great champion and a good guy, but hes also just another person.Still, one cant but help recognize his upcoming time in the spotlight and the gravity of this experience.I look forward going to Hollywood to learn, said Mayfield. Im definitely going to bring my journal, and write down some of the drills and certain things of that sort. Also, I want to let people know Im representing The City. I want to show them we can fight out here.