Friday, March 24, 2023  |



Elvin Ayala, ‘the Fighting Fisherman,’ returns vs. Vaughn Alexander on Thursday


Making a living in boxing is by no means easy and not necessarily getting any easier as years pass. The top tier practitioners make out-sized portions of money, but those on the lower tiers need to cut and scratch to make a living wage.

Elvin Ayala, fighting Thursday night in the main event of a Main Events card at Mohegan Sun against Vaughn Alexander, has a side job which augments his ring earnings and one that lends itself quite readily to a simply and snappy nickname, should he choose to go that route.

“The Fighting Fisherman.”

Ayala is 36 and has been punching for pay since 2003. He is in that “gatekeeper” or “journeyman” category, we suppose, meaning he travels far and wide to ply his trade, has some ‘L’s on the ledger, and isn’t treated like royalty, doesn’t get that A-side love and attention when he gets added to a card. But the tag isn’t meant to diminish, lest you think it is demeaning. No, the 29-9-1 fighter, who lives in East Haven, Connecticut, has snagged some solid scalps in his tenure in the ranks. 27-1-1 Aaron Mitchell got the short end versus Ayala in January 2015, and Ronal Gavril lost to the New Englander his next time out, two months later. In November 2016, 34-3 Marcos Reyes in Texas got stopped by Ayala. And ask Ayala about it, sounds like some of those Ls are up for debate.

“My last fight, in Texas against Junior Castillo, I dropped him in the second round, I beat him, they robbed me,” Ayala told me. “It is what it is, it isn’t the first time. I walked away my head high, I was happy with my performance. For this fight, I’d never heard of him till they offered the fight to me. I never heard of his (more well known) brother (Devon Alexander), that’s no diss on him, but when I’m out on the ocean, there’s not much TV.”

You read right, he said “out on the ocean.” Turns out for the last year and a half, Ayala has been headed out on the boat he owns, taking a crew of three or so, and cruising for spots to catch tuna. That delicacy snags a pretty penny on the free market.

“Fishing, it’s a challenge, I’ve always craved a challenge, it’s the last frontier. The ocean is the only thing mankind hasn’t conquered. And you can have a beautiful day and in half an hour, deal with the worst storm ever…your boat could sink. But your reward, when you catch this prehistoric looking tuna, a big freaking thousand pound tuna, fight to land it for six, seven hours.”

Hmm, sound like another other milieu, where fate can throw a speedball at your head, where you can find yourself swamped, bail like a sonufgun, then get rewarded with a massive payoff in the next instant? “Being a fisherman, it’s not for the weak.”

Ayala told me about some of those Ls; sounds like sometimes, the downside of being in that journeyman role bit his butt. Late offers to fight sometimes mean he’s been doing more fishing and not enough gym work. “Christopher Brooker (9-9-2016), I spanked the s__t outta him, I wish there was pictures, they gave him the win,” he told me. “But any situation I make the best of it.” He got a call to fight Gavril like a week before and “I spanked the s__t out of him,” and the judges agreed. He says he found out he was fighting Aaron Mitchell (1-17-2015) at the weigh-in, and yes, he made the best of that deal.

As for the 10-0 Alexander (age 31), has Ayala watched tape?

“I haven’t seen anything on him. I’m at the point of my life where every fight is quality level. It doesn’t matter who he is, it matters who I am. Right now I’m at the greatest point I can be at in my life. Man, I’ve been in it a little while, been doing it quite some time, but it happened so fast, I didn’t get any wear and tear! I’ve seen a lot of fighters built up but their opponents have not really been quality opponents, not to disrespect Alexander. I always just want to go in there and fight!”

He said he’s clicking with trainer Mike Conroy, a karate guy who has shown him new insights into a striking mentality. He digs it; his middle name is “Lee,” after “Bruce Lee.” He told me his mom was in love with the karate God, so it all makes sense, this chapter in his fighting life.

Ayala doesn’t explicitly guarantee a win over Alexander but he seems confident as can be. He did state that zero doubt, after the fight, he will be virtually high-tailing it to the ocean.

“In my losses, the weakest point was me. Any defeat I suffer is me, mentally. My mind is in a good place, I can’t be beat! I’m in a great place, the best I’ve ever been. I look forward to experiencing this fight, this maturity, it’s a great moment for me. And I just talked to my crew today (Monday), they’ve been working, pulling two tunas in per boat, and that’s good. I’m gonna go out right after this fight, shake a few hands, take a few pictures, then I’m outta there. Hopefully, Monday I’ll be in the waters.”