The beat goes on …
Older and wiser, New Haven’s Ayala continues chasing dream of elusive world title
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Oct. 24th, 2011) – The old Elvin Ayala would’ve bitten off more than he could chew, taking the guaranteed payday in lieu of a reasonable, safer fight.
Now, four months after beating Derrick Findley to capture the World Boxing Council (WBC) U.S. National Boxing Council (USNBC) middleweight title, the new Elvin Ayala is taking a more sensible approach, patiently waiting for the opportunity to achieve what has now become the driving force behind all the hours spent in the gym.
“I have a God-given gift I never knew I had,” said Ayala, who will face Miguel Hernandez on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., on the undercard of Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports’ “November Reign” show, in association with Global Boxing.
“Now I know if I work even harder, I can become a better fighter and become a world champion.”
Ayala (24-5-1, 11 KOs) didn’t always dream of championship glory. Born in Philadelphia, but raised in New Haven, Conn., he utilized boxing as a way to make money and stay off the streets.
“I really didn’t have any schooling,” Ayala said, “and there were drugs everywhere I grew up. When I came to Connecticut, [former light heavyweight world champion] Chad [Dawson] was coming up at the time and becoming a star and making money, and I’m like, ‘Wait, you can make money off this?’
“I didn’t want to live a life where I had to look over my shoulder all the time, but I still needed to make money. I didn’t want to live in poverty anymore.”
Turning professional at the age of 23, Ayala quickly emerged as one of New Haven’s most promising fighters, winning his first 16 bouts before losing back-to-back decisions to David Banks in 2006 and 2007. Setbacks aside, Ayala’s stock continued to rise; in 2008 – just five years into his professional career – he fought for his first world title, losing to International Boxing Federation [IBF] middleweight champion Arthur Abraham in the 12th and final round.
Less than two years after the loss to Abraham, Ayala attempted to climb another major hurdle when he traveled to Montreal to face then-unbeaten Canadian prospect David Lemieux. Emotionally and physically drained from having to cut weight in a last-ditch effort to make the 160-pound limit, Ayala suffered a brutal, first-round knockout loss that left him questioning his future.
Just as quickly as he had reached the summit, Ayala had suddenly slid back down to the base of the mountain, realizing he needed to make changes both in and outside of the ring.
“There were so many excuses after the loss [to Lemieux]. Everyone had all these reasons,” Ayala said. “I felt the only reason was because I was too heavy and had to lose the weight rapidly. I was drained. Who can fight like that? My four-year-old daughter could’ve hit me that day and knocked me out.
“When I went to Canada, I had the mindset that this was it, this was my time to shine,” he continued, “and afterward I still had strong respect and loyalty to my camp. I’ve always been loyal. Even in the streets, where I learned it from, it was always, ‘Death before dishonor,’ but we were still learning how to become great. I just needed someone to take me where I needed to be.”
Realizing he had a legitimate shot at becoming a world champion with the proper guidance and management, Ayala eventually signed a promotional agreement with Burchfield. Since February, he’s won four consecutive fights, including the win over Findley at Mohegan Sun in July. He’s also ranked 28th in the WBC.
Ayala admits there’s still a temptation every now and then to rush into something greater – and, perhaps, more lucrative – now that he’s back on the radar. The old Ayala would’ve given in a long time ago. The new Ayala is patiently waiting to strike.
“That comes with maturing and getting older,” Ayala said. “Yes, it’s difficult [to not rush] – mostly financially. I’m willing to wait, and I am. I have no choice. I don’t want to be stupid and rush things, but, with a big family, it’s that much more difficult.”
The idea that another shot at a world title could be just around the corner is what keeps Ayala on the right path. Up next is Hernandez (20-11, 10 KOs), a 36-year-old veteran from Chicago and former contestant on “The Contender” reality series.
Ayala doesn’t know much about his latest opponent, nor does he plan on doing too much studying; as he puts it, in order to be the best, “you have to beat whoever is front on you.” Consider it a new approach for an old veteran.
“A guy like him has a lot of experience and knows how to train,” Ayala said of Hernandez. “He’s been in quality fights before. I’m sure he’s more than hungry for this and he probably sees this is a great opportunity for him. I expect him to come to the ring that way.
“I’m not going to lose – I can’t lose,” he continued. “I’ve won fights in the first round and I’ve also been stopped in the first round. I’ve won in the last round and also lost in the last round. I know what it feels like, so I don’t sleep on any opponent. I will treat him like he’s unstoppable. That’s how I’ll go in there.”
The main event of “November Reign” will feature the highly-anticipated 12-round WBC International heavyweight title bout between undefeated champion Mariusz Wach (25-0, 13 KOs) of North Bergen, N.J., and former world champion Oliver McCall (56-11, 37 KOs). The show will also feature a 10-round North American Boxing Federation (NABF) middleweight title bout between undefeated Patrick Majewski (17-0, 11 KOs) of Atlantic City, N.J., and Dionisio Miranda (21-7-2, 18 KOs) of Barranquilla, Colombia.
The undercard also includes a four-round super middleweight bout between New Haven’s Rick Dawson (4-0, 1 KO) and Borngod Washington (2-9) of Queens, N.Y., and a battle of unbeatens between New Haven’s Edwin Soto (7-0-1, 3 KOs) and Diego Pereira (6-0, 2 KOs) of Pawtucket, R.I., in a six-round bout. Junior featherweight Josh Crespo (0-0-1) will battle newcomer Nate Green of New Haven in a four-round bout.
Cruiserweight Jose Torres (0-1) of Springfield, Mass., will face Francwa Russell of Chicago in a four-round bout in Russell’s pro debut; junior welterweight Christian Lao (2-1, 1 KO) of New Haven will face Angel Chaves Fernandez (0-5) of Brockton, Mass., in a four-round bout; Artur Szpilka (7-0, 5 KOs) of Wieliczka, Poland, will battle heavyweight Arron Lyons (12-11, 9 KOs) in a four-round bout; and Hartford welterweight Javier Flores (5-0, 5 KOs) will face Willie Walton (4-4, 4 KOs) of Salt Lake City, Utah in a six-round bout. Super featherweight Kamil Laszczyk (4-0, 3 KOs) of North Bergen will also be featured in a separate four-round bout.
Tickets for “November Reign” are on sale now at $40, $65 and $105 and can be purchased by calling CES at 401.724.2253/2254 or Ticketmaster at 1.800.745.3000. Fans can also purchase tickets online at www.cesboxing.com, www.ticketmaster.com, or at the Mohegan Sun Box Office.
For more information on “November Reign,” visit www.cesboxing.com or www.mohegansun.com. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with the first bout scheduled for 7:30 p.m.