As was the case earlier this month with Steve McNair, I’m not going to spend time pouring over the details surrounding the death of Vernon Forrest. Instead of I’m to talk about one of the moments he gave us in the ring that I’ll never forget. No, it wasn’t the night he surprised everyone and whipped Shane Mosley from pillar to post and captured the titles. Instead it was the moment where a virtually unheard of Nicaraguan named Ricardo Mayorga stunned Forrest and became a star. After this fight I called/emailed/IM’ed every boxing fan I knew like “DID YOU SEE THAT???”
Forrest had just signed a lucrative six-fight deal with HBO as a new champion, and Mayorga was more or less an appetizer before the good stuff began. The mood before the fight started was the typical “this-scrub-I-never-heard-of-is-about-to-get-murdered” thing. Larry Merchant was talking about how he wondered if Mayorga could even last long enough to be competitive. The first two minutes of the fight were what everyone expected, Forrest stayed outside and boxed and he found his target easily. Two minutes into the fight Larry Merchant mentioned Vernon Forrest was a 10-1 favorite at one point and almost instantly things changed. The Mayorga we have all come to know emerged, and started swinging for the fences. Forrest was sent to the mat, but not particularly hurt… and this proved to be the turning point in the match.
Instead of sticking to his guns and boxing Mayorga, Forrest got a little macho after being knocked down and entered a slugfest …. and that was all she wrote. When it became obvious to everyone that we were NOT going to see Vernon simply run over his opponent, George Foreman gave the quotable of the evening:
“Boy, when you sign these big contracts the last thing you think about is that you’re gonna have to fight for the money”
90 seconds later… it was over.
(the build up)
(the end of the fight)
In retrospect, we’ve learned that you don’t beat Mayorga unless you stay composed and pick your shots. He leaves himself open enough in his flurries that you’ll eventually break him down and knock him out. In a way, Forrest had to lose this fight so everyone else could know what tactic to stay away from.
I hesitated a little before making this post because I wasn’t sure I wanted to post about a fight in which Forrest got his ass beat, but at the end of the day he had nothing to be ashamed of. When it’s all said and done he gave us a night in the ring that you’ll never forget. If you’re a hardcore boxing fan like I am you certainly remember where you were the first time you saw this unfold. It wasn’t exactly on par with Buster Douglas knocking out Mike Tyson, but it’s definitely in my top 5 favorite boxing moments.