The sea is parting for San Francisco’s Karim Mayfield to obtain his long-coveted shot at a world championship, starting with this Saturday’s rematch between Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado for the WBO junior welterweight interim title (HBO, 10 p.m. PT).
Juan Manuel Marquez, the full-fledged champion, will likely vacate the belt to pursue more lucrative matchups north of 140 pounds. In that scenario, the Rios-Alvarado winner’s status would be upgraded to assume Marquez’s spot.
In any case, the 32-year-old Fillmore native known as “The Hard Hitta” will be the highest-ranked contender remaining by Sunday morning, a development Mayfield hopes to leverage into the biggest fight of his career.
“I’m going to be the number one contender, so I definitely want the winner and get a shot at a title,” Mayfield (17-0-1, 10 KOs) told CSNBayArea.com. “To go from the Fillmore streets to a world title fight would be amazing…I’d be the real people’s champ.”
Rios (31-0-1, 23 KOs) and Alvarado (33-1, 23 KOs) make for must-see TV. Their first fight was a nonstop whirlwind of deliciously gratuitous fireworks. Ultimately, Rios had just enough bullets in the chamber to stop his valiant foe in the eighth round.
Mayfield, who successfully debuted on HBO with a points win over Mauricio Herrera last October, believes he can outduel either man.
“Their styles are very similar,” Mayfield said. “My style is unpredictable. I’ll switch up my gameplan, literally in between a round. I adapt to what my opponents do. I neutralize, and then I capitalize.”
Former two-time welterweight titleholder Andre Berto has been working out at Virgil Hunter’s gym in Hayward, and it appears he has joined the rising trainer’s growing stable of stars.
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Berto (28-2, 22 KOs), who is coming off a wide decision loss to Gilroy’s Robert Guerrero, has not yet publicly announced the partnership. However, it’s been long rumored he would seek Hunter’s services after parting ways with longtime coach Tony Morgan.
The move would mark Berto’s second stint in the Bay Area. In 2011, he and Morgan camped in San Carlos to work with nutritionist Victor Conte to prepare for one fight, a fifth-round stoppage of Jan Zaveck.
The National Collegiate Boxing Association completed their Far West Regionals last weekend, and several NorCal boxers advanced to the National Championships, which take place Apr. 4-6 in Mashantucket, Conn. Defending national 147-pound champion Oscar Gomez of San Jose State will be joined by Spartan teammate Gabriel Sanchez (139 lbs.), Cal’s Evan Kamel (125 lbs.), and UC Davis 156-pounder Colin Schmitt.
The NCBA’s new rival organization, the U.S. Intercollegiate Boxing Association, will hold its inaugural USIBA National Championships Apr. 11-13 at USF’s Koret Center.
MILLER, ESPARZA, CORREA HIT NATIONALS
San Francisco’s Raquel Miller travels to Spokane, Wash., this weekend for the USA Boxing National Championships, which occur Mar. 30-Apr. 6.
Miller, who won Nationals at welterweight last year and a silver medal at the World Championships, now ascends to the 165-pound Elite (Senior) Division middleweight limit, one of three Olympic weight classes.
“I’m fighting at middleweight so I have a chance at the next Olympics,” Miller told CSNBayArea.com. “I’m ready. Before, I just fought my heart out with my lack of experience, but now I can think a lot more in the ring.”
Olympic flyweight bronze medalist Marlen Esparza, who trains in San Carlos, will vie for her eighth national title with a new scoring system; the computer has been replaced with a pro-style 10-point must system.
“I feel stronger, faster, and I’ve learned some new things that will help me fight the pro style,” said Esparza, who showed off a debilitating right hand to the body in sparring.
The most marked difference will be in the Men’s Senior Division, which will be split into two tournaments. The Elite Men will fight without headgear and compete for spots on Team USA, while the Senior Men will keep headgear but advance no further past Nationals.
“I like the new rules,” said San Jose flyweight Eros Correa, who won the last Olympic Trials but withdrew before London 2012 due to weight issues. “Now you can’t run and wait for the final bell anymore if you have a big lead.”
For the full list of local amateurs (Youth, Senior, and Elite Divisions) heading to the Pacific Northwest, check out Norcalboxing.net.