Dulorme (21-1) held on for dear life at times in the final two rounds. Had referee Steve Smoger disciplined the Puerto Rican for that or for the two low blows that took some of the starch out of Mayfield’s late-fight surge, the outcome might have been different. The scorecards for the 10-rounder read 97-94, 96-93 and 98-92.
Mayfield (18-1-1) was the underdog, and rightly so considering the three-inches-plus difference in height and Dulorme’s considerable power. Mayfield’s advantage was largely abstract, what we Pacific Northwesterners call “skookum,” and that superior mental toughness set the tone for the second half of the fight after Dulorme won four of the first five rounds and arguably won the sixth as well.
But Mayfield won the seventh, ninth and 10th, and he was winning the eighth when Dulorme landed the first low blow. After a long rest, the second low blow turned the fight. Give Mayfield that round and the sixth, and throw in a one-point penalty, and Mayfield wins the fight. Instead, Dulorme stole the eighth by jabbing the temporarily debilitated Mayfield.
It was pretty clear to Mayfield’s trainer Virgil Hunter that he needed a knockout after that. Hunter urged Mayfield to go balls-out, saying “Go git it – with both hands. He might catch you comin’ in, but so what?”
Dulorme landed a couple of left hooks in the first round and used his superior height and equal quickness to stymie Mayfield in the second as they fought at long range. Although failure to close in on Dulorme cost Mayfield those first two rounds, Hunter kept admonishing Mayfield for crowding too close and smothering his own punches.
Mayfield pressed the action to win the third and was forced to play the role of bully thereafter. Dulorme was landing more punches, but he began to instigate most of the holding from the fifth on. Again, you could make a case for Mayfield winning the final five rounds, including the sixth and eighth. But I scored both of those rounds for Dulorme and thus had Mayfield losing 96-94.
Mayfield did just about everything to win this fight, including instigating a brawl at Friday’s weigh-in that created a sense of instability that helped him in the fight against a physically superior fighter – and almost helped him win it.
But Mayfield doesn’t have a crowd-pleasing, and therefore promoter-pleasing, style, and he’s not a superstar like Sergey Kovalev, the lightheavyweight who won Saturday’s other bout by stopping Cedric Agnew in the seventh round. And frankly, Dulorme seemed eminently beatable, too. Probably the last fight on HBO for both guys.