Karim Mayfield sat behind a table with his big brother, LaRon Mayfield, to his left and longtime trainer, Ben Bautista to his right. “Karim is not just Top Rank in the ring,” said Yolanda Banks, Karim Mayfield’s mother. She addressed a crowded room in San Francisco City Hall where the press conference for his upcoming fight was taking place. “Karim is top rank outside of the ring, and everyone here can be top rank from this day on as well,” she continued inspiring the young people gathered.
For Mayfield, it was an emotional day. As a man who has often been forgotten as a true contender in his division, he stood on a stage with the people who have supported him all along. The event was a mere walk from his neighborhood, Fillmore. “I am here to show people who grew up in my position that you can have role models. As a child I looked up to people, but they weren’t role models. I want everyone to know there are a thousand ways to get up a hill, but remember they are all uphill.” Mayfield read his prepared speech from his iPad. This was one of the biggest moments in his life, the coup de grais of his professional achievements, and a homecoming, fifteen years in the making.
“I heard about Karim when I started the straight forward fight club,” Ben Bautista, the longtime trainer of Mayfield said addressing the crowd. The fight club began as an after school program to help at-risk youth in inner city locals. Mayfield was a kind of legend at the gym, the man those who boxed wanted Bautista to see. But, Bautista never came to the gym. Then it happened, “I remember Karim walked in the gym and I looked at him like ‘Hey Karim’…anyone who knows Karim knows he is always doing something, and on his way somewhere. He just kind of said hello, but that is where it started.” It’s a bond of loyalty as Bautista and Mayfield have worked together ever since, and even when Mayfield was labeled, unfairly, an un-television friendly fighter; it was Bautista and his team who stuck by him to get him on air.
Mayfield, who answered questions for about 20 minutes, told personal stories from his love of his mom’s quiche, to his strength and conditioning with SNAC system team. When the topic got his upcoming foe, Thomas Dulorme, who Mayfield meets on March 29th on HBO, the lively and fun loving Mayfield became very serious.
“[Dulorme] is supposed to be the future of boxing, but when I look at his record I see no zeroes. [Dulorme] has not fought any undefeated fighters. When you fight an undefeated fighter you are fighting someone’s dreams for the most part.” Mayfield went on to explain that he had six undefeated guys on his record before even becoming 10-0, and his experience against undefeated fighters seems vital now.
“Our next fight is for a world title.” Ben Bautista said as the implications of this bout point to a possible fight for Ruslan Provodnikov’s WBA 140 strap of gold on the line. Mayfield says Provodnikov has been on his radar for years, and that it is one battle at a time. He is fine with that challenge when it comes.
As for another champ in the division, Danny Garcia, Mayfield felt Mauricio Herrera’s controversial loss last Saturday in Puerto Rico was just part of the bigger picture. “I had sparred Danny Garcia before I knew my style could beat his, and what Mauricio Herrera did was just show the world that style.” Mayfield and Garcia had choice words in Vegas after a Mayweather fight. Garcia and his father allegedly called the cops on Karim and his older brother when they were trying to garner attention for a matchup between the two top 140 lbs.
“Do you have a problem with Puerto Ricans?” A man in the crowd wearing a beautiful brown suit with a matching hat asked. “I mean, you knocked out that one cat [Raymond Serrano] on ESPN, you’re gonna knockout Dulorme, and you calling out Garcia. I mean what gives?” Mayfield simply shrugged and laughed.