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Rodel Mayol Intends to Make Most of "Last Chance"


PhilBoxing.com




World title opportunities do not typically grow on trees, a fact Rodel Mayol is all too cognizant of heading into his second fight with unbeaten pound for pound candidate and WBO light flyweight champion Ivan Calderon on September 12 in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico.

For Mayol, 25-3-1 (19 KO), this will be his fourth - and most likely final - crack at fulfilling his dream of winning a world title. He is determined to avoid following in the footsteps of fellow Filipino compatriot Juanito Rubillar, the luckless former six-time world title challenger who had always come in second place.

"Yeah," Mayol, said in agreement. "Maybe it's my last chance. Maybe if I lose this fight I don't know if I can go back to a title fight again. That's why I'm training hard this time and will be lucky to win this fight."

The Cebuano slugger's career got off to a hot start, as he approached his first title shot against Japan's 105 pound champ Eagle Kyowa in 2006 with a 22-0 record. Mayol was competitive, if green, and lost a close but unanimous decision.

His next opportunity, the following year against Ulises Solis, was another back and forth brawl that featured Mayol dropping the 108 pound champion with a left hook in the sixth round that the referee erroneously declared a slip. Mayol would find himself on the wrong end of a one-punch knockout two rounds later.

After being stopped by unknown prospect Adrian Hernandez in four his next time out, it appeared as if the end of Mayol's run as a top contender was at hand. But after two nondescript wins in the Philippines, Mayol got the call to challenge Calderon at Madison Square Garden in New York City this past June. The fight reinvigorated his stagnating career.

For the first four rounds, Mayol's four inch height advantage coupled with his considerable reach advantage seemed to bother Calderon. Then a series of headbutts occurred, as they typically do between southpaws and conventional fighters, which opened a deep gash high on Calderon's forehead.

The butt seemed to ignite both fighters but a series of further clashes over the next two rounds convinced the referee to send it to a technical decision. There two judges scored it 58-56 - for different pugilists - while the third had it 57-57 even.

Mayol says he plans on being more aggressive this time around, creating more space between himself and the champion on the scorecards in hopes of averting what he fears, a hometown decision.

"I'm going to make a point. I'm going to hit him so that the judges will know that I'm winning. I'm expecting a hometown decision in Puerto Rico. I saw that in the last fight in Puerto Rico with Hugo Cazares. I know Hugo won but it was a hometown decision.

"If there's a chance, I know I can handle the power of Calderon so there is no threat to go in. That's why I will take advantage and knock him out."

Mayol believes Calderon will also adapt a different strategy at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico Jose Miguel Agrelot.

"Maybe the difference is he's going to run in this fight. I know he's going to run. I'm going to expect that because it's his hometown so maybe it's running, running. That's what I'm thinking."

One visible difference on fight night will be the cornermen. For the first clash Mayol had Buboy Fernandez in his corner. The more celebrated Freddie Roach will work his corner this time around.

"I think 100% that with the way his mindset is and the confidence he has compared to the last time, he'll win the fight," Roach stated confidently.

For this bout, Roach wants to focus on breaking down the 34-year-old Calderon's body to nullify Calderon's speed advantage.

"The left hook is the best weapon against a southpaw. He likes to use the right hand but we have to get him in position. We're working on the left hook to the head and body and moving out of harm's way after. We're working on the left mostly but to keep Calderon honest we have to use both hands."

"He needs to be a little more sharper, a little more aggressive and take control earlier in the fight," says Jesse Arevalo, who has been working with Mayol at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles under the auspices of Roach.

"I sure hope he's a little more sharper as far as when Calderon goes into motion. He would duck down a lot and make Mayol miss a lot of those punches. If he settles down a little more on that I'm sure he'll be able to connect with a little more punches."

Roach is familiar with Calderon. He used Calderon for sparring while preparing Oscar de la Hoya for his 2007 clash with Floyd Mayweather Jr. He says Calderon beat up the then-junior middleweight champion. "I hear that he's been sparring with [Miguel] Cotto to get him ready for [Manny] Pacquiao. He's getting older but he's still very capable."

Roach says that the sparring Mayol has had for this camp far surpasses what was available for the first bout. "We have more true southpaws. The last time we just had guys fighting southpaw but not thinking like southpaws."

Guillermo Rigondeaux, the Cuban defector that took home gold medals in the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, highlights the impressive roster, which also includes WBO 105 pound champion Donnie Nietes and top contender Z Gorres.

"He has a good chance [to beat] Calderon," Gorres said. "Rodel has power and is an intelligent fighter. I thought Rodel won the first fight. He was doing well but for me he needs more pressure."

Mayol picked up boxing at the age of 13 after a fight on a basketball court in his native Mandaue City in the Cebu Province of the Philippines. After losing the scuffle he went to a local boxing gym to prepare for his revenge which never came. They reconciled and remain friends to this day.

Mayol stuck with boxing, which earned him a scholarship to the Southwestern University in Cebu City. He completed the first two years of his accounting degree but dropped out at age 18 to pursue a career as a professional boxer.

Now at the age of 28, Mayol fights for more than playground vengeance. He fights for his family; his wife Lira to whom he has been married for six years, as well as his two sons, aged six and one. Mayol, his wife and youngest son have now relocated full-time to Los Angeles where he enjoys the benefits of training abroad.

More than that, however, Mayol says he is motivated by the growing Filipino boxing tradition that has seen a precipitous increase in the number of champions emanating from the Pacific Island nation. As he watches his promoter Manny Pacquiao, Nietes, Brian Viloria, Nonito Donaire and most recently Marvin Sonsona rise to prominence, Mayol is determined to get his piece of the pie.

"It inspires me a lot. This isn't for money; I want to become like them. I want to be recognized as a champion like them. I try to train hard because I see how they became champions and we're not different. I know I can do it, too."

Z Gorres To Face Cruz Carbajal 9/11

Mayol isn't the only fighter out of Wild Card seeking another shot at glory. Z Gorres, 29-2-2 (16 KO) will face former WBO Bantamweight champion Cruz Carbajal on September 12 at El Palenque de la Feria in Tepic, Mexico. The fight is scheduled for ten rounds on the Top Rank-promoted fight card headlined by Julio Cesar Chavez Jr vs. Jason LeHoullier.

For Gorres, this is his first bout on the North American continent since stopping Eric Ortiz in 2007. For Carbajal, 29-16-2 (25 KO), it will be his first fight in more than a year since being stopped by Leonilo Miranda in eight rounds last July. Carbajal has gone 1-3-1 in his last five bouts.

"I know he's a former world champion but all I can say is that it's going to be a good fight," said Gorres. "Right now I'm so ready for our upcoming fight and I'm very confident that I can beat him."

"It's not that easy, we respect him," added trainer Edito "Ala" Villamor. "Mexican fighters are true warriors.

"Carbajal is more experienced than Gorres but we try our best to win this fight. We train hard for this."

Gorres is hoping a win over Carbajal can launch him into a rematch with WBO bantamweight champion Fernando Montiel, who had taken a split-decision victory over Gorres in 2007. Montiel will make his first title defense against Alejandro Valdez on the same card.

I really want Fernando Montiel," said Gorres. "I will prove to the world that I can beat him."

Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at songaliaboxing@aol.com.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Ryan Songalia.


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