In boxing, it helps to have a good right hand — amongst other things.
Karim Mayfield, apparently since the fourth grade, has had a good right hand.
It took the Fillmore district native slugging an older schoolyard bully at Linda Park Elementary in Pacifica to allegedly prove the notion true.
“I was the only black kid in the school ... and this guy was attempting to pick on me and my brother,” Mayfield remembered. “And my brother was like, ‘Just let it go.’”
Mayfield did let something go — his right hand. And unbeknownst to the young Karim, his school principal fancied a good fight, and watched the lunchtime scuffle from a distance.
“I swear on my life, this dude said, ‘You have a great right hand. But you can’t be clocking people like that,’” Mayfield said. “I remember that till this day.”
That tussle was Mayfield’s intro to recreational fist fighting, an occupation he later abandoned in pursuit of the professional boxing ranks.
But unlike the schoolyard punk who tried to best him years ago, Mayfield, 31, this time will be the older man when he steps into the New York prize ring Friday against his 22-year-old opponent.
That foe will be Philadelphia’s unbeaten — and untested — Raymond Serrano, a speedy right-hander with a knack for unwisely favoring recklessness over proper balance. That specific quality cost Serrano, a veteran of about 100 amateur bouts, in his last outing as he was knocked down in the third round, courtesy of a counter southpaw jab.
But despite his flaws, Serrano represents Mayfield’s biggest fight to date, and his first main-event TV spot.
“He’s definitely a good fighter, but I’ve been fighting good fighters my whole career,” Mayfield said. “If anything, he’s the one who needs to be worried — because he hasn’t fought any good fighters ... at all.”
With wins over former titlist Steve Forbes and two-time Olympian Patrick Lopez, Mayfield has a valid argument as to having fought the better opposition. And with the addition of premier Bay Area trainer Virgil Hunter, who also trains Oakland’s Andre Ward, Mayfield is perhaps right to believe that he’ll succeed Friday night.
Succeed is what the former street fighter has done thus far since stumbling into San Francisco’s Straight Forward Club at 19 — a relatively late age for a pugilist.
But Sergio Martinez, the Ring middleweight champion, was that old when he took up fighting. Whether Mayfield will be a world champion one day, one cannot say. But a win Friday will certainly be a step in the right direction.
‘Friday Night Fights’
- WHEN: Friday, 6 p.m.
- WHERE: Albany, N.Y.
- WHO: San Francisco’s Karim Mayfield (15-0-1, 9 KOs) vs. Philadelphia’s Raymond Serrano (18-0, 8 KOs)
AT STAKE: Mayfield’s NABO junior welterweight title (140 pounds)
- TV: ESPN2