A last-minute change of plans has former world-title challenger Elvin Ayala preparing for a new – and perhaps more dangerous – opponent in Friday night’s co-feature at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
Ayala’s original opponent, Israel “Pito” Cardona of Hartford, Conn., has been scratched from the lineup by the Mohegan Sun Athletic Department for unknown reasons, so Ayala will now take on veteran Derrick “Superman” Findley (18-5, 11 KOs) of Gary, Ind., in a 10-round bout for the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) U.S. National Boxing Council middleweight title Friday, July 29, 2011 at “Heat Wave,” presented by Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports in association with Global Boxing Promotions.
Friday’s main event features Clones, Ireland (Dorchester, Mass.) veteran Kevin McBride (35-9-1, 29 KOs) – the last fighter to knock out Mike Tyson – facing undefeated Polish heavyweight Mariusz Wach (24-0, 12 KOs) of Krakow, Poland (North Bergen, N.J.) in a 12-round bout for the vacant WBC International heavyweight title.
“When I faced Sergio Mora [in October of 2007], he was ‘The Latin Snake,’ so I was the mongoose,” Ayala said regarding his draw against the former WBC light middleweight champion. “[Findley] is ‘Superman,’ so I’m going to have to be the kryptonite.
“I’m ready for this. I have to be ready. I’m going to be the world champion. How am I going to be the champ if I can’t beat world-class fighters? I’m not taking anything away from ‘Pito’ Cardona, but I think he was a little bit over the hill. This guy I’m facing now is a definite challenge and it’ll put me where I need to be. People will say, ‘Wow, Elvin is going up against a worthy opponent.’
“This has happened to me before. In my mind, I was kind of expecting it so it wasn’t a total surprise. This is the life of a boxer. As a fighter, you can’t train for one style. You have to be ready to fight whoever’s in the ring. I have to be able to handle this. That’s what separates champions from regular fighters.”
Ayala, nicknamed “The Pride of New Haven,” was originally scheduled to face the 36-year-old Cardona of Hartford, Conn., in a highly-anticipated intrastate showdown, but now his path to the WBC USNBC title must go through Findley, who has a deep resume that includes bouts against former 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Andre Dirrell (19-1, 13 KOs) and Super Six World Boxing Classic finalist Andre Ward, who’ll face Carl Froch in the tournament’s inaugural championship bout on Oct. 29, 2011 in Atlantic City. Ward coincidentally took home the gold medal the same year Dirrell won the bronze; Findley lost to both fighters by unanimous decision in 2006 and 2009, respectively.
Findley has also faced undefeated Russian prospect Matt Korobov – 16-0 with nine knockouts – and owns two wins over Michael Walker, the most recent coming in May. Findley was scheduled to face former North American Boxing Association (NABA) super middleweight champion Kingsley Ikeke on Saturday, but the fight fell through, allowing Findley to step in against Ayala for the WBC USNBC middleweight title, a belt once held by former world champions Paul “The Punisher” Williams and Lamont Peterson.
“To me, he’s a like a stronger, younger ‘Pito’ Cardona,” Ayala said of Findley. “He’s coming in to throw bombs. He’ll be ready. He already had a fight lined up, so he’s in tip-top shape. This is my opportunity. This is my change in life. I have to beat this guy, whether I outbox him or knock him out. I have to win, so I will.”