Ayala was at one time one of the most promising prospects in the sport of boxing. As a teenager he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated and was one of the featured undercard bouts on the first Ray Leonard-Thomas Hearns battle in 1981. His surge up the rankings was doomed almost as soon as it began, however, as criminal behavior curtailed his career.
After toppling Carlos Herrera, Ayala was scheduled to fight Davey Moore, but he was convicted on charges of burglarizing his neighbor’s house and sexually assaulting her. He had previously been convicted on two counts of sexual assault against women and as a repeat offender, he was sentenced to 35 years in prison. He also admitted to using heroin before at least three boxing matches.
He was released from prison in 1999 and resumed his boxing career with a degree of success before his criminal behavior reared its ugly head again. He was arrested for breaking into a woman’s home in 2000, where he was shot in his shoulder. In 2003, he was charged with having sexual intercourse with a 13-year old girl, but the charges were eventually dropped when the girl said she lied about it. The following year, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison when he was pulled over for speeding and charged with heroin possession, driving without a license and possession of pornographic videos. He was released in April 2014 and began assisting in the operations of the Zarzamora Street Gym. The gym was previously owned by his father, Tony Ayala, Sr., who passed away a few weeks earlier.
Ayala never captured a world title in the two stints he had in professional boxing, but he amassed an overall record of 31-2 with 27 KOs. Luis Ramon “Yori Boy” Campas was the first man to defeat him.