Ayala with the WBC USNBC middleweight championship belt on July 29, 2011
|Real name||Elvin Ayala|
|Rated at||Middleweight - 160 lb (73 kg)|
|Height||5 ft 11 in (180 cm)|
|Reach||74 in (188 cm)|
January 15, 1981 |
Reading, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Wins by KO||12|
Elvin Ayala (born January 15, 1981) is an American professional boxer from New Haven, Connecticut. He is a former world-title challenger and reigning World Boxing Council U.S. National Boxing Council (WBC USNBC) middleweight champion.
Ayala is currently ranked No. 16 in the WBC and No. 4 in the North American Boxing Federation (NABF). He made his first defense of the WBC USNBC middleweight championship March 30, 2012 at Foxwoods Resort Casino with an eight-round unanimous-decision win over Philadelphia's Eric Mitchell in the co-feature of ESPN's Friday Night Fights telecast.
Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, but raised in New Haven, Ayala took up boxing as a way to stay off the streets and out of trouble. He credits former light heavyweight world champion Chad Dawson as one of his early influences.
"I really didn’t have any schooling," Ayala said, "and there were drugs everywhere I grew up. When I came to Connecticut, Chad was coming up at the time and becoming a star and making money, and I’m like, 'Wait, you can make money off this?'
"I didn’t want to live a life where I had to look over my shoulder all the time, but I still needed to make money. I didn’t want to live in poverty anymore."
At the age of 22, Ayala made his professional debut on September 19, 2003 with a unanimous decision win over Michael Gutrick in Toms River, New Jersey, a short distance from his hometown of Reading, Pennsylvania.
Within a year, Ayala improved his professional record to 7-0 with one knockout. On November 11, 2004, Ayala earned his eighth professional win by knocking out Chance Leggett, then 11-3, in the seventh round of a scheduled eight-round bout at The Roxy in Boston, Massachusetts. The victory over Leggett began a stretch of three consecutive knockout wins for the New Haven middleweight.
Ayala eventually won his first 16 fights before facing his toughest test to date against future The Contender reality television star David Banks, who was 12-1-1 at the time, on November 24, 2006 at The Roxy. Ayala lost a narrow split decision, 94-97, 95-96, 96-94 — the first loss of his professional career. Judge Robert Kaprielian was the only judge to score the bout in Ayala's favor.
Ayala didn't stay down for long; he rebounded with back-to-back wins against Dillon Carew and Jose Angel Roman in Connecticut and closed the year with arguably his most impressive performance in a controversial draw against then-unbeaten The Contender Season 1 champion Sergio Mora at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. Ayala lost, 91-99, on judge David Mendoza's scorecard, but won the bout, 96-94, on Raul Caiz Jr.'s scorecard. Max DeLuca judged the bout, 95-95.
The draw dropped Ayala's record to 18-2-1, setting up the biggest fight of Ayala's young career — a showdown against undefeated International Boxing Federation (IBF) middleweight world champion Arthur Abraham. The bout took place March 29, 2008 in Germany two months after Ayala's 27th birthday. Abraham won the majority of the rounds, sending Ayala to the canvas in the fifth, and finished Ayala for good via 12th-round knockout with just 28 seconds remaining in the fight. Abraham improved to 26-0 with the win, which was also his seventh world-title defense.
Following a 10-month stretch of inactivity, Ayala returned with back-to-back wins against Antony Bartinelli and Eddie Caminero before losing a United States Boxing Association (USBA) middleweight title bout against former world-title challenger Lajuan Simon by unanimous decision in Las Vegas.
Ayala's next bout proved to be the turning point in his career. The then-29-year-old middleweight traveled to Montreal, Quebec in June 2010 to face hometown favorite David Lemieux, who entered the bout at 22-0 with 21 knockouts, on ESPN's Friday Night Fights for the WBC International middleweight title. Physically drained due to a last-minute weight-cut in training camp, Ayala hit the canvas three times in the opening round and lost by technical knockout at the 2:44 mark.
"There were so many excuses after the loss [to Lemieux]. Everyone had all these reasons," Ayala said. “I felt the only reason was because I was too heavy and had to lose the weight rapidly. I was drained. Who can fight like that? My four-year-old daughter could’ve hit me that day and knocked me out."
The loss to Lemieux forced Ayala to make several career moves; he switched trainers, found himself a manager and signed with Jimmy Burchfield's Classic Entertainment & Sports, a promotional firm based out of North Providence, Rhode Island.
Ayala began his CES tenure with a unanimous-decision win over Mustafah Johnson at Mohegan Sun on February 4, 2010. Since signing with CES, Ayala is 4-0, including a knockout win over Rhode Island-based Joe Gardner on ESPN in April and a win over former The Contender participant Derrick Findley for the then-vacant WBC USNBC title at Mohegan Sun on July 29; Findley was a late replacement as Ayala was originally scheduled to face Hartford, Connecticut veteran Israel "Pito" Cardona.
Ayala was scheduled to defend his title against Hector Camacho Jr. in the 10-round televised co-feature of ESPN's Friday Night Fights on March 30, but Camacho Jr. pulled out the week of the fight due to a hand injury, so Ayala instead faced 42-year-old Philadelphia veteran Eric Mitchell. Ayala won convincingly on all three scorecards for the 25th win of his career.
Tenure with CES
Ayala has publicly credited the influence of Classic Entertainment & Sports as the turning point of his career.
“The first step was surrounding myself with the right kind of people. I’ve got the hardest-working promoter, Jimmy Burchfield, on my team now. He knows how to get fighters to where they need to be," Ayala said. "We have everything we need now. There are no excuses. This is the team that will get us to the top.”
Since signing with CES, Ayala has also begun working with renowned New England trainer Peter Manfredo Sr., the father of The Contender Season 1 finalist and former International Boxing Organization (IBO) middleweight champion Peter Manfredo Jr. of Providence, Rhode Island. Ayala has noted an improvement in his technique since working with Manfredo Sr.
"Not only is he saying the right thing, but with the way I feel when he speaks to me, I absorb everything a lot better than if it were coming from the average Joe,” Ayala said of Manfredo Sr. “I trust a lot of what he’s saying. I could literally go in there with a blindfold on and have him tell me what to do and I would still win the fight. I had always seen [Manfredo Sr.] in the past and I thought considering the type of person he is, the type of trainer he is, and who he’s worked with, I’d be comfortable. So far, I’ve been right."
Ayala is scheduled to return to the ring July 21, 2012 at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut The show will be promoted by Classic Entertainment & Sports and also feature Connecticut's Ricky Dawson and Providence, Rhode Island female bantamweight Shelito Vincent.