BY MAC ENGEL
Unlike so many fighters who never are quite sure what to do with their time when they retire, former world champion Paulie Ayala knew when he was done there would be no un-retiring.
There was never going to be out-of-retirement from boxing when Ayala decided he was finished.
He actually wanted to retire before his wife of 20 years, Leti, wanted, but the decision has worked.
At 42, Ayala has his health, a thriving life and a passion to remain in a sport that gave him everything.
He runs his own gym in west Fort Worth, works with Parkinson’s patients, trains/manages boxers and is now a promoter.
On Friday, at the Cendera Center, his “Friday Night Fight Series” continues with a load of matches.
You are in the promoting business now, which has a less than flattering reputation — why are you different than the rest? I’m going to give you a fair shot. An opportunity. I feel that [way] because I have been there and I started from grass roots from where these guys have started. I didn’t start in a coliseum. I did my first three fights in Oak Cliff. So I have been to the very bottom and I made it to the very top.
Of the four things you do now — personal training, fight training, managing and promoting — if you had to pick one to concentrate on which would you choose? I’ve looked at the opportunities and what is out there and if I was to be a trainer, that would be my best option. Some of the best trainers are getting older and aren’t well. Freddie Roach, Robert Garcia and the guy training Andre Ward — there aren’t a lot. So there could be an opportunity there.
Are you suffering from any physical ailments as a result of your career? I’ve gained weight. I’m about 50 pounds heavier. That’s about it. I try to eat everything in moderation.
You are training people with Parkinson’s disease; of the things you do what is the most rewarding? Right now I’d have to say it’s been dealing with the Parkinson’s patients because of the opponent they have — they are the underdogs. They are expected to lose this fight. I take it personally because they came to ask me for my help. And I see guys like Freddie Roach, Ali, Terry Norris … and who is to say I won’t get it later in life? I’m not scared of it. But I have seen that if you train and exercise you can delay some of the effects.
What do you think of the state of boxing today? I think it’s not where it used to be. I don’t know if it ever will. What people want is a heavyweight. There are right now only European heavyweights. There are no American heavyweights. It’s going to take an American heavyweight to generate some excitement. The rest are grass roots stuff that keeps boxing going.
Who are the top fighters today? Floyd Mayweather hasn’t fought in a while; Adrien Broner has been winning a lot of fights. I like Andre Ward up there. I don’t know about Manny Pacquiao — he got knocked out pretty devastating against Juan Manuel Marquez. He should be back in the top 10.
Are fighters avoiding Canelo Alvarez? They are. He can punch and he is young and he is hungry. He’s dangerous. He hasn’t gotten a fight yet because of the politics.
Mac Engel, 817-390-7697