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Mora Has Texas-Sized Indigestion

(Photo © German Villasenor)
(Photo © German Villasenor)


By  Monday afternoon, Sergio Mora still hadn’t fully come to grips or digested what had taken place this past weekend at the Illusions Theater in San Antonio, Texas. Taking on Brian Vera - who had defeated him back in February of 2011 - a much better and more focused version of “The Latin Snake” evaded most of Vera’s two-fisted attack and counterpunched effectively throughout the night. It was an entertaining affair (about as much as a fight with Mora can be) and it seemed as though he had done enough to win this hard-fought contest.
 
But when the scores were announced, two judges, Ruben Carrion and Rafael Ramos, had the scores in favor of Vera - a native and resident of the Lone Star State - by the scores of 118-110 and 117-111, respectively. The third judge, Wilfredo Esperon, had the fight a draw at 114-114.
 
The fight, in their eyes, was a one-sided affair.

“There’s no digestion needed,” said Mora, still frustrated a few days after. “I have indigestion. Man, this is incredible; I went out there and people think I had the same game plan because I laid against the ropes. But first of all, I’m fighting a big, strong guy in his hometown that takes a great punch. I hit this guy with some really good shots and I realize I’m not Julian Jackson but when I’m hitting a guy consistently and he’s just coming and smiling at me - you’ve got to give him credit for having a good beard. But aside from all that, giving Brian credit, I just thought I won the fight unanimously. I was confident, then when I watched it on television and I heard Ronnie Shields say that they needed a knockout to win and then Brian Vera saying that he would’ve been happy with a draw, I mean, that just confirms how me and my trainer, Dean Campos, felt.
 
“We won at least eight rounds to four and then when we got the scorecards, that’s when we realized…actually, we realized something was fishy. The decision took so long. It really took about seven minutes; the referee [Mark Calo-Oy] was holding our hands and then he let ‘em go and then they were blaming it on the commercials but it was a very long decision for them to tally up the cards. Finally, when they read the cards and I heard ‘114-114’, I knew something was going to be fishy and then I heard ‘118-110’ and then I just relaxed. I’m like, ‘Whew, wow; alright, good.’ Then I heard ‘117-111’; that really put me at ease.”
 
Little did Mora realize that the draw was the most charitable score he had received. Vera was announced as the majority decision winner.

“Then when he won, I was like, ‘Hoooooolllly sh*t,’” recalled Mora, who saw his record drop to 23-3-2 (7).
 
There were a lot of close rounds where Vera carried the action with his aggression and volume but the precision punches were landed by Mora, who found a home for his counter rights all evening. Mora was a much better version of himself than the one who labored versus the tough Texan last year. He was much sharper and in superior condition and it seems the only one in Texas who really saw that was Shields, who was in the opposite corner with Vera. As the 12th and final round began, Shields admitted to the Telefutura audience that his charge needed a knockout.
 
“I gotta go back and look at the fight because I talked to so many people and everybody saying, ‘Man, Vera won that fight. He didn’t win it by much - but he won the fight,’” said Shields to Maxboxing on Monday. “I mean, everybody is calling me, man, ‘I’m sorry, dude; you were wrong.’ I said Brian needed a knockout because I felt we needed that last round, so I just knew he needed to go out there and do something that last round. But in the corner, you’re just looking at the fight and Sergio was always making the last-second runs at the end. So I’m just trying to get Brian up for the fight.”
 
Perhaps Shields was exaggerating to his boxer what they needed in an effort to exhort him. He still doesn’t sound confident of the verdict rendered in their favor.
 
“I gotta look at the fight again because I’ve had over a hundred people call me and not one of them say that Brian lost,” he said. But Shields did admit he felt Mora was up by a couple of points going into the last inning.
 
According to Mora, after the fight, Shields, “had an embarrassed , guilty look on his face. Me and Dean went up to him. I went, ‘Ronnie, look, you’re a professional; we respect you,’ and before we could even finish our sentence - and they’re interviewing Vera at that time - he said, ‘You got robbed, son. What can I tell you? You’re in Texas.’ I said, ‘Ronnie, please, please tell it on camera,’ and he took like a step-and-a-half towards the camera and then he realized the problem he was getting himself into. He turned around and said, ‘Serg, I live here; I can’t do that.’”
 
What was really telling to Mora was the contrasting reaction he got from the live audience from the first hook-up with Vera (where he was loudly booed and heard catcalls as he left the ring) to this fight (where he said he received nothing but plaudits and praise).
 
Again, you could make a case that Vera won the fight closely but the wide margins on the cards almost make it seem like the results of this contest were predetermined. Mora never had a chance to win a decision. Texas is a great boxing market but it has a troubling history of protecting its house fighters with downright bad decisions and other cases of favoritism.
 
Did Mora not realize where he was?
 
“I did,” he says, “but [Vera] didn’t hit me. He pressured me but the last time I checked, you don’t get points for pressure; you get points for effective aggression. But f**k, he just pressured me. He threw a million punches and you have to give it to him; he put the pressure on me. He didn’t let me have a second of breathing. OK, great, but he was hitting my elbows, my shoulders, my back and that’s not effective. The shots that were landing effectively were on my end. I really think I got robbed. If you’re getting judged on effective aggression, defense and ring generalship, I have to take that decision in or out of Texas.”
 
Perhaps Mora was being naive. There’s a reason why some in boxing don’t ever want to mess with Texas. “Common sense isn’t as common as some people think,” he stated. “I went out there thinking differently and y’ know what? I got the same result and we know what that’s called - insanity.”
 
While this wasn’t a big fight to most boxing fans, it was a big one for Mora, who, less than two years ago, was headlining a pay-per-view card against Shane Mosley in his hometown at the Staples Center. A victory over Vera would not only net him the NABO middleweight title, it would give him much needed momentum in a career that had come to a standstill. Winning the first season of “The Contender” might as well have been 20 years ago.
 
Now what?
 
Mora says he has emailed several members of Golden Boy Promotions to see what can be done and may also file a protest with the Texas authorities (good luck with that). What was done to Mora has been done for years and will take place for years on in. That’s boxing, unfortunately. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
 
“But if they care about the sanctity and purity of boxing, then something needs to be aired out here. Because 118-110 means I only won two rounds out of 12. Two rounds out of 12! That’s an outrage, so that by itself should be looked into and then the fact: What are you scoring? Are you scoring pressure or effective aggression?”
 
CLOUD-PASCAL
 
Don’t be stunned if the bout between IBF light heavyweight titlist Tavoris Cloud and Jean Pascal, originally scheduled for August 11th at the Bell Centre in Montreal, doesn’t end up back on Showtime or happen at all in 2012.
 
Several issues are standing in the way of this bout taking place. First, Showtime is having problems finding an open slot for this match-up and have a filled scheduled for the last quarter of the year. The promoters (Don King and Yvon Michel)  are having a difficult time finding an open date for a venue back in Montreal, Quebec that corresponds with a free date on the network. October 13th was open for the Bell Centre but Showtime is doing a card in Las Vegas featuring WBC 122-pound titlist Abner Mares (most likely against Anselmo Moreno).
 
Now this: Karlo Murat, the IBF mandatory. The IBF gave Cloud an exception to face Pascal but now with that fight being not only postponed and having big rescheduling problems, both Murat and the IBF are getting restless.
 
Michel tells Maxboxing that both he and King are prepared to go through with Cloud-Pascal with or without Showtime televising it. But there is also the possibility that they table this fight as Cloud takes care of his IBF obligation while Pascal takes a tune-up bout and they meet up next year.
 
OLYMPICS
 
Kathy Duva has a very unique perspective on U.S. Olympians and how they develop as pros given that, in 1984, Main Events signed the quartet of Mark Breland, Pernell Whitaker, Evander Holyfield and Meldrick Taylor (who famously made their pro debuts on primetime on ABC a few months after the Summer Games in Los Angeles). Later, this company promoted the likes of Fernando Vargas, who was on the 1996 team. She had these thoughts on a recent article I penned regarding the most recent batch of U.S. Olympians (http://www.maxboxing.com/news/sub-lead/the-drop-off):
 
“I have a couple of comments on that if you want to hear them…
 
 “1) I haven’t seen a single article that notes the fact that what used to be called ‘Russia’ in the ‘70s and ‘80s is now called Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Azerbaijan, etc., etc.  They fought among themselves in the old USSR and picked one winner to go to the Olympics and face everyone else. Now we have to take on the best that all of those individual countries have to offer and Cuba if we expect to win gold. It is quite possible that the second-best guy in the old USSR might have given our best amateur boxers a run for their money back in the glory days. But the second-best guy in the Soviet Union never got the chance to go to the Olympics. Today, there are six or seven strong countries to compete with us for those medals instead of one. 
 
“2) Our 1984 Olympians - great as they were - did not face the USSR nor did they face Cuba. While Breland and Whitaker would have won medals in any Olympics, I don’t think that anyone could have plausibly expected a gold medal run like the one our ‘84 team produced, had the Soviets and Cubans been in LA. I don’t think our heavyweights would have won against that competition, to tell you the truth. And a few of the other medal winners would have faced a problem. For example, I don’t know if then-17-year-old Meldrick Taylor would have been able to stand up to the experienced 20-something men who would have represented Cuba and Russia in ‘84.
 
“3) Our 1976 team was the truly great one. They won their five gold medals up against the very best in the world. The ‘84 team was great too. I’m not trying to take anything away from them but we wouldn’t have exceeded the ‘76 haul in L.A. had all of the countries participated.
 
“4) Those old ABC ‘USA vs. the World’ matches didn’t just make the participants household names. Those matches gave our elite amateurs the opportunity to travel all over the world and compete with the same world-class fighters they would later face at the Olympics. You should ask Mark Breland and Pernell Whitaker how many countries they visited while they were in the amateurs. Their passports got quite a workout. There is simply no money to pay for this today.
 
“5) Except for in the heavyweight divisions, I’m not sure I agree that the NFL and NBA are entirely to blame for the lack of talent in boxing. After all, in which other sport could a guy who weighs around 150 pounds become the most highly paid athlete in the world? Again, I think that the exposure that the amateurs received on TV in the ‘70s and ‘80s made amateur boxing seem more glamorous than it is today. But most important of all, the people who ran the U.S. amateur program at the time knew what they were doing.
 
“6) I will not make excuses for USA Boxing because they are dreadful but the people who are running it now had to turn around a program that was literally bankrupt when they took over. Now that they have put the program on somewhat better financial footing, I hope they can find someone with the will and the skill to make it successful in the future. The women on our team did very well. They were coached properly and - up against similarly inexperienced competition in the new women’s division - two out of our three women won medals. That’s a pretty nice percentage. Our men, on the other hand, must face far more experienced competition and they are simply not prepared for it. That is not their fault.
 
“I don’t think our program is as terrible as people are saying. And I don’t think that our fighters stink. They are, however, woefully inexperienced. They need seasoning in international competition. They need to pick the team a lot earlier so that the fighters can prepare. And we need to be realistic about what is possible in a world where we are up against really talented competitors from numerous countries where boxing remains a major sport. I guess my point is that the breakup of the Soviet Union did more damage to USA boxing than just about any of the other culprits that keep getting blamed. And I haven’t seen a single article that points this out!”
 
Well, Kathy, you just did. Thanks for your input...
 
HEAT WAVE FLURRIES
 
Jake Donovan of BoxingScene was the first to report that the Sept 8th card on Showtime featuring IBF welterweight champ Randall Bailey vs. Devon Alexander and junior welterweights Lucas “The Machine” Matthysse vs. Ajose Olusegun will be held at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas...Donovan George will now face Dionisio Miranda on the season finale of “Friday Night Fights” on ESPN2...Maybe Dana White meant that Jon Jones would be getting an endorsement deal with LA Gear or British Knights?...Showtime announced that “The Baby Bull” Juan Diaz will serve as guest color commentator for “ShoBox” on August 24th...The Raiders season comes down to one thing - the health of Darren McFadden. I simply don’t trust Carson Palmer not to turn the ball over...So I guess the whole Bobby Valentine experiment isn’t working out? ?...I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet (some boxing, a lot of nonsense) at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing.


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