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Elvin Ayala Ready to Go From Nice Guy to Beast Mode in 2012 & Land a Title Shot

The Elvin Ayala you see outside the ring – the cordial fighter who’s all smiles at all times – is similar to the Elvin Ayala who willingly carries the city of New Haven on his back each time he steps into the ring.

By anyone’s standards, Ayala (24-5-1, 11 KOs) is one of the few “nice guys” who hasn’t finished last in professional boxing. Fresh off a perfect 2011 in which he finished 4-0 with two knockouts, the reigning World Boxing Council U.S. National Boxing Council (WBC USNBC) middleweight champion has climbed the ladder to No. 28 in the world, but boxing’s preeminent gentleman is ready to unleash a mean streak that could culminate with a major payday in 2012.

“I’ve always been a nice guy, and I will continue to be who I am,” Ayala said, “but now I’ve got to unleash.

“Sometimes, I’ve been afraid to unleash. At times, I’ve thought about things too much, but this is more than just a job; it’s my life. In order to show who I am, I have to unleash – and I will.”

Since signing a promotional agreement with Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports at the beginning of 2011, Ayala has carefully toed the line in the middleweight division, making a slow, but steady, climb toward the top. He captured the WBC USNBC title in July with a unanimous-decision win over Derrick Findley, bringing him one step closer to his ultimate goal of winning a world title.

With his 31st birthday looming on the horizon, Ayala is finally ready to put every last ounce of energy into what could be his final run at championship glory.

“Most of the time, I’ve said to myself, ‘If this doesn’t work out, I can do something else.’ Now, this is all I have,” Ayala said. “This is it, and the reason is because this is all I need. All I have to do is put everything I’ve got into this gift I’ve been given and let it shine so bright that you won’t be able to turn it off.”

Ayala’s immediate goal is to take a major step forward and fight a Top 10 contender in the middleweight division, perhaps International Boxing Federation (IBF) world champion Daniel Geale (26-1, 15 KOs) of Australia, or Ireland’s Andy Lee (27-1, 19 KOs), the former North American Boxing Federation (NABF) and North American Boxing Organization (NABO) champion.

“Those people are respected,” Ayala said. “Not a lot of people in the United States know about Danny Gaele, but he’s a world champion – a great fighter. He’s gotten where he is because of what he’s done. You can’t take anything away from him, but you can’t take anything away from me either.

“I know I can be devastating. Andy Lee is a powerful fighter still learning to box, but I can beat him. I’d like to fight him right now. I’m ready. I can be very devastating and shocking to the world.”

The difference between Ayala and most wide-eyed optimists aiming for a shot at the title is he’s been there before. Three years ago, he fought then-undefeated Arthur Abraham for the IBF world title, nearly taking Abraham the distance before suffering a brutal knockout loss with 28 seconds remaining in the 12th and final round. That small taste of glory has left Ayala thirsting for more.

“I don’t want to wait anymore,” Ayala said. “I’m ready to put everything on the table. I’ve suffered enough, and not just regular losses; I got dropped three times by David Lemieux [in a first-round knockout loss in 2010]. Having gone 12 rounds with Arthur Abraham, no matter how close the fight was, I still lost by knockout.

“People still see that on my record. I suffered that, and I still have that in my mind. Going through those experiences has changed me. They had me saying, ‘I’m not doing this anymore,’ but something else inside me pulled me back into the fight world where I said, ‘You know what? I haven’t even shown people who I am yet.’”

Perhaps this will be the year Ayala shows his true colors in the ring and brings home that elusive world title. The million-dollar smile he’s become known for will never fade, but it could shine much brighter in 2012 if he truly unleashes all that pent-up frustration.

“This year I had is only the beginning,” he said. “There is still so much more I haven’t shown.

“I want to be known worldwide. I feel I can reach that level. I want to get to the point where people who don’t even know boxing will know who Elvin Ayala is. I’m still dreaming it. I still haven’t done it, but I think I’m on the path.”