MIAMI -- Former welterweight and super-welterweight world champion Ricardo Mayorga will venture into mixed martial arts.
In a news conference Monday, Mayorga said he anticipates his first MMA fight early next year. Mayorga, of Nicaragua, currently is in a legal dispute with promoter Don King and seeks a release from his boxing contract for an opportunity at an MMA career.
"I am a fighter by nature, I learned to fight on the streets of Nicaragua before I learned to box," Mayorga said. "For many years, I have wanted to try MMA. Now I hope to get my opportunity."
Still, Mayorga, 35, will need a crash course if he is to make an impact in a sport which has expanded its fan base the past five years.
As with previous boxers who have tried the move to MMA, including ex-heavyweight champion Ray Mercer, the toughest adjustment is fighting an opponent while on the ground.
"I have had a few training sessions and once I get the approval that I can start doing MMA, I will learn even more quickly," Mayorga said. "I consider it easier than boxing in that you can use your legs to kick your opponent. The idea of using smaller gloves also has me very anxious to try it.
"Boxing has many more rules."
Mayorga said he has not retired from boxing. In addition to pursuing his MMA aspirations, Mayorga would like to box again once he settles his legal dispute with King. Mayorga's last fight was a 12th-round knockout loss against Shane Mosley in September 2008.
Mayorga, whose boxing record is 28-7-1 and 22 KOs, won the World Boxing Council welterweight title with a third-round technical knockout over Vernon Forrest in 2003 and lost the belt against Cory Spinks in a title unification fight the following year.
In 2005, Mayorga defeated Michelle Piccirillo for the vacant WBC super-welterweight belt but lost the title in his first defense against Oscar De La Hoya.