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The Latin Snake States His Case

(Photo © K9 Photos)
(Photo © K9 Photos)

By Steve Kim


When Sergio Mora faces Samuel Rogers this Saturday night from the Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, he won’t even be on the HBO Latino broadcast (which features Javier Fortuna and Orlando Del Valle in separate bouts) but he doesn’t take this as a slight.
 
“It didn’t upset me because I’m already getting used to the bitterness,” he said with a smile this past Wednesday at the Gamboa Boxing Gym in Whittier, CA. “So it’s either continue being pissed off at an invisible foe holding the strings or shut up, stay busy, stay sharp and wait till these guys give me another chance and you catch them off guard and become ‘the new...’ again.”

When his promoter, Lou DiBella is asked why Mora is “in the dark” - as they say in the boxing business - he explains, “[HBO] bought [Carl] Froch-[George] Groves [II], it was originally a tripleheader, so they bumped it.”
 
As Mora stated, Saturday night is a chance to stay active and sharp, something he hasn’t done in the past due to various circumstances.
 
“This is going to be my third fight in a year. I fought in June [of 2013] against [Gregorz] Proksa. I fought Milton Nunez [in November] and this is going to be another one. Three times in a year is pretty good; I would say even with your standards and if I can even get a fourth one after this, that would be great,” said the 33-year-old Mora. “So it’s all up to Lou DiBella; he promised me a big fight and we almost had that [Peter] Quillin fight and the offer got taken off the table for some reason and they ended up going with Lucas Konecny. So after this fight, with another good performance, I don’t see how they can deny me.”
 
Mora has been fairly active by modern standards, especially for a fighter who doesn’t have the networks beating down the doors for his services. Perhaps he’s been effectively blackballed in some circles for his forgettable outing versus Shane Mosley a few years back. But DiBella isn’t hearing any of that. “Moving forward, this kid keeps performing; the hate for him has to end. He’s one of the best middleweights in the world. His style has been pleasing in his recent fights. He’s one of the few guys that can beat the known champions out there and the reason they don’t want him is there’s like a network kibosh on him, which is bizarre.”
 
The bottom line is simple. In today’s game, if the networks don’t want you, it’s hard to make a substantial living.
 
DiBella continues, “Frankly, a lot of the fighters who are in championship positions or guys around that area, they know how skilled he is from a boxing standpoint and they’re running away from him.” As for the scheme to move Mora into a significant fight while fighting certain perceptions, the boisterous promoter states, “The short-term plan to repel that is to keep him active and keep him in people’s minds. There should be clips of him on the HBO Latino show; he’ll fight right before they go on the air. But the plan is to keep him active and then I’m going to be jumping up and down after this fight if the blackballing continues. It’s bullsh*t.”
 
(And there’s nothing quite like an eruption from Mount St. DiBella.)
 
To his credit, Mora is trying to be more crowd-pleasing and mix it up a bit. An elusive and slippery stylist, he understands he would resonate more with the paying public if he let his hands go. But as he sported a bit of a shiner after his last bout versus Nunez, a fifth round knockout win, he said to this reporter at the fight hotel, “Y’know, this ‘being exciting’ stuff is kinda hard.” Hey, nobody said it was going to be easy.
 
“I realized that the first time I fought Bryan Vera in Texas, when I went gut-for-gut against a guy who’s used to doing that for a living and I think being entertaining and being a TV-friendly fighter hurts,” Mora admitted, chuckling. “There’s a price to pay but I’m more than willing to pay that price just not with my body and not with black eyes anymore, just more aggression and being smart about it.”
 
In 30 professional outings (with a record of 25-3-2), Mora has just eight stoppages. Julian Jackson he will never be but within his style, he is attempting to take more risks. As he works in the gym with his longtime trainer Dean Campos, he explains some of the fundamental changes he’s made, which range from tucking in his elbows a bit tighter to his ribs and throwing his right hand where he’s not falling in, pivoting his back foot instead of moving it forward and squaring himself up to his opponent. Campos notes, “They say an old dog can’t learn new tricks. Well, they can if they are willing to learn.”
 
Say whatever you want about Mora (and much is said about him on Twitter - good and bad) but he’s had a storied career that saw him win the original season of “The Contender” on NBC, upset Vernon Forrest for the WBC junior middleweight title and appear on major cards. But he does live with regrets.
 
“In retrospect, absolutely I wish I would’ve taken the Jermain Taylor fight [in 2007] because win, lose or draw, I realize now that it doesn’t really matter if you have a loss on your record like it used to,” said Mora. He turned down that opportunity because he felt uncomfortable facing Taylor (then, the middleweight king) in Memphis, where Taylor had fought a few times before. “That would’ve been a million-dollar payday, for one. I would’ve fought for the undisputed middleweight championship of the world, two. And even if I would’ve lost, I would’ve lost a split decision and I wouldn’t have gotten knocked out.
 
“So yeah, I regret that. That’s going down to my dying days. Then again, there’s a pro to every con. A year after I declined that fight, I ended up winning the world title versus Vernon Forrest. So it’s kinda give-and-go.”
 
And Mora makes it clear: he is more than willing to face Gennady Golovkin, who’s having problems finding suitable dance partners.
 
“I’m going to state it right now: [middleweight champion] Sergio Martinez is the best fighter in the world but we all know that his injuries are making him less and less the monster that he used to be. Right now, the monster is Gennady Golovkin. Peter Quillin is pretending to be a monster and a beast and everything else like that but they won’t face each other and blame it on the ‘Cold War’,” says Mora, referring to the lingering issues that prevent Golden Boy Promotions/Al Haymon clients from appearing on HBO. Mora refers himself as “Switzerland.” In other words, he’s neutral.
 
“I’m with Lou DiBella, so if they offer me a Golovkin fight and the money is more than Curtis Stevens got, I’m taking it. That’s another thing; they say [Golovkin]’s the most avoided but we’re not really seeing the offers that are being made to the opponents. I know Stevens got high 200,000s, $290,000. If that’s the offer that most opponents are being offered to fight Golovkin, then most of them are just scared.
 
“They make that offer over $300,000, I’m taking the fight. Absolutely.”
 
TNR
 
Here’s the latest episode of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly:
 
 
And to download the iTunes app, please visit:
 
 
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FRIDAY FLURRIES

HBO is planning a split-site show on August 2nd that will feature Sergey Kovalev and Brandon Rios. There is also some talk of Jessie Vargas being added to this telecast...Look for the likes of Quillin, Danny Jacobs and Danny Garcia to fight sometime in late July, early August...The TopRank.tv stream from Macao, China begins at 7:30 a.m., ET I’m told....Any chance that the Clippers move to Seattle with this sale to that billionaire guy? And if so, does “Visor” Stiviano get a statue put up in her honor in that city for helping bring back the NBA?...Lance Stephenson is a rather odd fellow; isn’t he?...Ican be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.


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