Karim Mayfield long ago came to grips with the requirements of his chosen profession. "My job," he told SF Weekly in 2011, "is, literally, to break men's dreams."
And he's so good at it.
Back then, Mayfield was an up-and-coming boxer in search of that career-making bout. In the interregnum, the Fillmore-raised light welterweight won three more fights against quality opponents, elevating his career mark to 18-0-1. He earned a title belt, defended it thrice, and has signed with high-level promoters putting on fights in venues where your seat won't give you splinters, located in cities you've heard of, and broadcast on networks that don't feature between-rounds updates of the Lumberjack Games.
Mayfield puts it all on the line once more this Saturday, March 29, in an HBO fight against touted Puerto Rican prospect Thomas Dulorme (20-1). The prize for a victory is to, in some months time, do it all again with an ostensibly tougher opponent. The penalty for failure is potential career oblivion.
Ascending the heights of boxing is a bit like playing "Chutes and Ladders"; it's ever so much easier to plunge to the bottom than advance one more increment toward that elusive payday in the sky. Mayfield, at age 33 and with a wife and four kids, has little time for chutes.
Three years removed from his cover profile, Mayfield is still an up-and-coming boxer in search of that career-making bout. He's earning decent purses for his troubles now — but he'd still rather not disclose just how decent, because "people do know where I live." Yes, you did see Mayfield puttering around Daly City in a 2000 Honda Accord. It gets great mileage, he explains: "It's a commuter."
Who could ask for anything more? "I could care less about trying to impress anybody," he says. "I don't need a big-assed house and five different cars. You can only drive one at a time. So, I'm happy."
Mayfield's own dreams, it would seem, are rather terrestrial. If he drops Dulorme, it figures to propel him into the company of the World Boxing Council's top-five light welterweights — enabling potential matchups with fighters like Timothy Bradley, Brandon Rios, Juan Marquez, or even Manny Pacquiáo. Fights like these could well earn Mayfield enough money to not buy big-assed houses or fancy-assed cars.
A man can dream.
If he were a rich man, in fact, Mayfield does have spending priorities. He'd underwrite his nascent clothes line, BRAGG (Bridges Reaching a Greater Goal). And he'd open a youth facility offering inner-city kids opportunities beyond boxing and basketball. "I don't know," he says, "maybe they could learn how to be journalists."
Journalism and pugilism: Two careers offering a better shot at pain than prosperity. Two troubled professions shuffling toward career oblivion.
But not without a fight.