Home Boxing News New-look Ayala focused on return

New-look Ayala focused on return

Old dog, new tricks

Reigning champ Ayala links up with new trainer in hopes of taking career to next level

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (July 5, 2012) – Even after a decade in this business, which includes more than 30 professional bouts, Elvin Ayala doesn’t mind starting from scratch every now and then.

“People say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I’m not a dog – I’m a wolf,” said Ayala, the reigning World Boxing Council U.S. National Boxing Council (WBC USNBC) middleweight champion and 20th-ranked middleweight in the world from New Haven, Conn., whose nickname is “The Lycan.”

“I’m open to learning.”

As he prepares for his upcoming title defense Saturday, July 21st, 2012 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., Ayala (25-5-1, 11 KOs) is now working with head trainer Marshall Kauffman – his second new trainer within the past year since signing with Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports.

Kauffman, who’s based out of Ayala’s hometown of Reading, Pa., at King’s Gym (an acronym for Kids In Need Of Guidance), has trained several notable fighters through the years, including his own son, former national amateur champion and heavyweight contender Travis Kauffman, former International Boxing Federation (IBF) welterweight champion Kermit Cintron and former two-time heavyweight world champion Hasim Rahman.

Ayala spent the past year with Rhode Island-based trainer Peter Manfredo Sr., but decided to switch gears as he heads into his upcoming bout against hard-hitting Jesus Gonzales (27-2, 14 KOs) to avoid complacency.

“I’m a relaxed kind of person, and when you get used to things, it’s not as if you’re slacking, but you grow accustomed to what you’re doing,” Ayala explained. “I noticed that when I do change, it makes me work harder. I’m in a new environment, and the expectations are high, so I try to work up to them. It just keeps me fresh.”

The transition from Manfredo Sr. to Kauffman has been relatively smooth for Ayala, mainly because he has known Kauffman since he first considered becoming a fighter while living in Reading as a teenager. The two never linked up professionally until Ayala made an impromptu pit-stop on his way out of Rhode Island.

“I was prepared to go to North Carolina [to train],” Ayala said, “but I have a huge family back home [in Connecticut] – my children, my lady – and I didn’t want to be that far away in case something happened, so on the way there I stopped in to talk to Marshall to see if we could work something out. The timing was perfect.”

Ayala is now back in Reading on a full-time basis for the first time since high school, so he’s still away from his family, but “at least I’m only four hours away, so I’m really still here.

“Being away from them is the toughest thing I have to deal with in boxing,” he continued. “Everybody who puts on gloves and tries to shoot for what I’m shooting for has to deal with that. I remember seeing [former light heavyweight world champion] Bernard Hopkins during an interview and he showed a message on his phone from his daughter. He missed her birthday party because he was away training. When he was world champion, he had to make sacrifices. That’s what everyone in this business must face at one point or another.”

Once he steps inside the gym with Kauffman, it’s all business, and working with his new trainer has helped Ayala correct his most notable flaws, some of which were evident in March during his unanimous-decision win over Eric Mitchell, a last-minute replacement for the injured Hector Camacho Jr.

“Training for one style for two months, I don’t believe in that anymore,” he said. “You should just be prepared to fight. My mind was so locked on one thing that when they threw a new opponent in front of me, it messed me up a little bit.

“I was fighting two battles. I should have been more aggressive – thrown more punches. I was waiting, and waiting, and waiting; it was frustrating as hell. He was a clinching a lot, and he head-butted me. I won, so I was happy, but I wasn’t happy with my performance.”

As Ayala jumps higher and higher in the rankings and moves closer to a shot at a major title, the pressure to win and look good doing so has increased dramatically.

“I’m a level where there are certain things expected of me – and for good reason,” Ayala said. “I should be a certain way at this point. If I can put a person out with the right combinations and get that knockout, that’s what I’m looking for now.

“The thing I love most about Marshall is he’s got a lot of insight; he’s been in the big picture before. He doesn’t freeze under the lights, and that’s a good thing. I’m always looking to learn new things, and he has a whole other style he’s teaching. With him, you quickly realize you really don’t know anything, no matter how much you think you now. That way of thinking has helped me be receptive.”

Facing Gonzales on the 21st might be Ayala’s toughest test on this journey back to the top. The Phoenix, Ariz., native is dropping back to down to 160 pounds after a brief stint in the super middleweight division in which he won the North American Boxing Federation (NABF) title with a win over Francisco Sierra last July.

“He’s a tough kid,” Ayala said of his 27-year-old opponent. “I’ve seen him get his eye split open and come back and keep fighting. He’s a humble person – a real down-to-earth, level-headed kid. He also has a lot to prove within himself.

“I’m not taking him lightly; I can’t do that. I’m looking forward to being an animal. I know I say this all the time, but I want to unleash this beast. I know I have it in me.”

Tickets for “The Fire Within” are on sale now at $40, $65 and $105 and can be purchased by calling CES at 401.724.2253/2254 or Ticketmaster at 1.800.745.3000. Fans can also purchase tickets online at www.cesboxing.com, www.ticketmaster.com, or at the Mohegan Sun Box Office.

The undercard features a six-round super featherweight showdown between Joseph “Chip” Perez (8-1, 2 KOs) of East Hartford, Conn., and Philadelphia’s Frankie Trader (8-1, 2 KOs). Unbeaten female bantamweight Shelito Vincent (3-0) of Providence will aim for her fourth consecutive win while super middleweight Tylon Burris (2-0, 2 KOs) of Hartford, Conn., faces Queens veteran Borngod Washington (3-11, 1 KO) in a four-round bout.

Jair Ramos (2-0, 1 KO) of Waterbury, Conn., will take on Boston’s Gabriel Duluc (5-0, 1 KO) in a light welterweight battle of unbeaten and welterweights Antonio Marrero of Hartford and Saul Almeida of Framingham, Mass., will make their professional debuts against one another in a four-round bout. Lightweight Christian Lao (4-1, 2 KOs) of New Haven will also return to the ring and heavyweight Donnie Palmer of Boston will make his professional debut, both in separate four-round bouts.

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