Karim Mayfield didn’t appear on HBO until his 30s, but he’s trying to make the most of his time in the spotlight.
After the San Francisco-based fighter made his debut on the network in Oct. 2012, a decisive victory over Mauricio Herrera, he's fought only once since, an untelevised bout against a journeyman. However, he hopes to be active in 2014. He faces former top prospect Thomas Dulorme on “Boxing After Dark” from Atlantic City, N.J., and he knows a win could lead to a title shot.
"I'm very excited to be fighting on HBO again,” Mayfield, 33, said. “This is a big opportunity to prove I'm one of the top fighters in the division. This is the type of fight the fans are seeking, two guys at the top of their game who are hungry to prove their great.”
Mayfield (18-0-1, 11 knockouts) is on the cusp of THE RING’s top 10 junior welterweight ratings, and a victory over Dulorme might springboard him there. He’s also close to his first world title opportunity. There have been rumblings that the winner of this bout could face Ruslan Provodnikov for the WBO belt on June 14.
"Yes I believe if I'm victorious against Dulorme then I deserve the Provodnikov fight," Mayfield told RingTV.com. "I earned (it) the hard way by winning all my fights. It can be a bit frustrating having big gaps in between fights. But I'm with Top Rank right now and I happy with the way my career is going."
Carl Moretti, Top Rank's vice president of boxing operations, is confident his fighter will get the opportunity he seeks if all goes according to plan Saturday.
"Anytime a fighter comes out victorious in a meaningful match at 140 or 147, there are usually bigger fights in store," Moretti told RingTV.com via email. "As long as Karim comes out victorious, I expect those doors to open for him."
The man they call “Hard Hitta” doesn’t believe he’ll have any problems getting that win. After all, Mayfield is one of the biggest punchers at 140, and Dulorme was knocked out by Luis Carlos Abregu in his only defeat.
"Dulorme is a technical guy with a long jab who has some fast hands,” said Mayfield. “He's nothing special though. I've seen him get knocked out before so I know his chin is suspect. I've fought guys who are long and rangy just like him so I'm confident in my ability to land some powerful shots. If I touch that chin of his, there's no doubt, he's getting knocked out."
Mayfield continues to fine-tune his game under the watchful eye of trainer Virgil Hunter at King’s Boxing Gym in Oakland, Calif. Hunter, of course, is best known for leading Andre Ward, THE RING’s No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter, to his current perch.
"Virgil and I have been working together since I was in the amateurs,” Mayfield said. “He knows how to push me to bring out the best in my fighting style. … Virgil has some of the best fighters in the world working out at his gym so I'm getting the best sparring possible. Virgil has got me working on some new punches that I'll display against Dulorme.”
Though the tactics Mayfield has learned from Hunter are effective, they've been criticized by some observers as boring to watch. Does the constant lambasting of Mayfield's fighting style get to him at times?
"Not at all," Mayfield said. "I'm a unique fighter with an awkward style that is difficult for my opponents. All I do is win and that's all that matters."
Mayfield's confidence is buoyed after Herrera's outing against RING champ Danny Garcia earlier this month. Though Herrera lost by majority decision, most observers felt he deserved the nod. When Mayfield fought Herrera, he had little problems with the rugged veteran, and caught Herrera with many big shots.
"The fact that I dominated Herrera and he got the world title opportunity means there's something wrong," Mayfield exclaimed. "I've been calling Danny Garcia out for the last couple of years but he's been running from me because I put it on him when he brought me in camp. I'll beat the breaks off Garcia if we ever fight."
At 33 years old and with only one big win on his resume, Mayfield doesn't have much time to make the big bucks. He knows he can't afford a loss, and Dulorme is standing between him and a shot at a strap.
"I'm a young 33 and I have plenty of fight left in me," he said, "but I have to take care of my family, so I'm hoping I get the big fights sooner than later."
Follow Mike Coppinger on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger