Friday, March 24, 2023  |


Mora’s quest for respect may end with Mosley


Sergio Mora believes he’s never received the respect he deserves from the boxing world but with one fight — his showdown with Shane Mosley on Saturday — the former junior middleweight titleholder might be able to change that.

All Mora has to do is beat Mosley at the site of the former three-division champ’s greatest victories — Staples Center in Los Angeles — in the highest-profile fight of his 10-year career.

Surprisingly, more than a few boxing writers and fans think the 29-year-old East L.A. native can do it. Why?

For starters, Mora is 10 years younger than Mosley, who turned pro a couple years before Mora ever laced on a pair of boxing gloves. Many boxing observers believe they witnessed a fading veteran repeatedly fail to pull the trigger against Floyd Mayweather Jr. during Mosley's embarrassingly one-sided decision loss in May.

Mora isn’t just younger and fresher, he’s also the taller man with a quirky boxing style that gives aggressive fighters like Mosley fits.

However, these factors point to the possibility that Mora can win the fight of his life and still not receive the credit he so desperately wants. Fans and the media can say he beat an old fighter who has always struggled with boxers.

If that happens, he’ll be used to it.

Mora didn’t receive much credit when he outpointed Vernon Forrest to claim a 154-pound title in 2008, and though he defeated ranked fighters Ishe Smith, Jesse Brinkley and Peter Manfredo Jr. on his way to winning the first season of The Contender, his participation in the 2004-2005 reality TV series is regarded as a joke by most boxing people.

However, Mora hopes being the first Latino fighter to defeat Mosley — especially one of Mexican descent on the Bicentennial of Mexican Independence Day — in the main event of a stacked HBO Pay-Per-View card will sway at least some fans to give him his due.

“I can’t predict whether this fight will earn me any respect,” Mora told “If you look at boxing history, you’ll see that respect can be elusive to even great fighters while they are in their primes. Larry Holmes and Marvin Hagler didn’t get it until late in their careers. As accomplished as they were it took them a while to garner the public’s respect and earn the titles of being the best of their era.

“I turn 30 in December, so it’s starting to get late in my career. I’m lucky I have this opportunity in front of me because I think beating a warrior, a legend like Shane Mosley — and beating him convincingly — will let people know that it’s my time.”

Golden Boy Promotions matchmaker Eric Gomez believes fans — at least those who live in Los Angeles — will recognize Mora’s achievement if he pulls off the slight upset on Saturday.

“Sergio fighting in his hometown and in this house, the Staples Center, where Mosley had his defining moment when he knocked out Antonio Margarito — the monster that everyone was afraid of — I think that’s going to make a victory very meaningful,” Gomez said. “I know it will mean something to the fans in the arena and to a lot of the fans watching on TV. Will the media give Sergio any credit? I think they have to. If they don’t, they have ulterior motives. I don’t care if Shane is 39. He’s a hall of famer and he always comes back stronger after a loss.”

Gomez is biased, of course. He not only works for the company that promotes both fighters and Saturday’s huge card but he also made the main event.

Gomez brought up Mosley's name during a meeting Mora had with Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer about three months ago.

“We were discussing his future,” Gomez said. “Richard wanted to make a fight with the WBC’s interim middleweight champ [Sebastian Zbik]. He’s based in Germany but we thought we could bring the fight to the States. I remembered speaking to Mosley months ago, before he fought Mayweather, before the [Andre] Berto fight was scheduled, back when he had been inactive. We were going over the names of potential opponents and Mora’s name came up. This was before Sergio signed with us. Shane was interested.

“So I mentioned Mosley as an opponent during the meeting and Sergio loved the idea. That immediately set off the light bulb in Richard’s head. He thought Staples Center was the place to do it and he began going through the numbers. Everything happened quickly. I think the fight was finalized one week after that meeting.”

Mora says he was eager to make up for lost time. He’s wanted big fights for many years but he claims The Tournament of Contenders, the promotional arm of the television production company, was unable to deliver significant bouts or even keep him active.

“I’ve been a pro for 10 years, but all the time I’ve been inactive adds up to almost three years,” Mora said. “So I’m fresh and I’m still hungry.”

Mora sat out all of 2009, thinking he would get a shot at former middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik, who pulled out of two scheduled bouts citing health issues. He was scheduled to fight a still-relevant Kassim Ouma in September of 2007 but the Golden Boy pay-per-view card the bout was on was scrapped when headliner Juan Manuel Marquez had to pull out because of a bad infection in one of his hands.

The Marquez main event for the canceled pay-per-view show, against Rocky Juarez, was postponed and placed on a Showtime card later in the year, but Mora’s fight with Ouma fell by the wayside.

Mora believes the Ouma bout, a pivotal fight in his career at the time, could have been salvaged by a more-experienced and connected promoter. He also feels that Tournament of Contenders executives could have stood their ground more with Pavlik’s promoter, Top Rank, and tried to enforce the contracts he signed.

Mora got out of his contract with The Tournament of Contenders and signed with Golden Boy last December. He had his first fight under the Golden Boy banner in April, when he stopped journeyman Calvin Green on the undercard of the Bernard Hopkins-Roy Jones Jr. pay-per-view show in Las Veags.

To say that Mora is stoked about going from the opening bout of an independent pay-per-view show to the main event of an HBO-produced pay-per-view event in his hometown would be an understatement.

“I finally have a real promotional company behind me, a strong promoter that believes in me,” Mora said. “Golden Boy has put their faith in me and given me a major fight. They said here, go for it, sink or swim, and it’s up to me to show them that I’m a hell of a swimmer. That’s all I’ve ever wanted. I’ve just wanted a chance to show my talent but none of the major promoters wanted to give me that opportunity.

“I was a top amateur. I made it to the 2000 Olympic trials and lost to Jermain Taylor, the guy who made the team and won a bronze medal, but I still couldn’t get signed by anyone when I turned pro.”

That’s not entirely true.

“Golden Boy offered Sergio a contract way back in 2002, when we were doing club shows at the [Irvine] Marriott [in Orange County, Calif.],” Gomez said. “He turned it down because he and his team wanted a signing bonus. I told them what they needed was activity. If you fight a lot, you get your money and you develop as a pro. We offered a signing bonus but they wanted twice that amount.”

That early career decision is indicative of the part of Mora’s personality that turns off both fans and media and is probably one of the reasons he isn’t as respected as he would like to be. Mora is talented and bright inside and outside of the ring but he has had an over-inflated opinion of his market value in the past and he sometimes outsmarts himself.

Mora turned down a reported seven-figure payday for a shot at then-middleweight champ Jermain Taylor in 2007. And though he redeemed himself to an extent with his title-winning effort over Forrest a year later, he thought he could get out of his rematch clause with the late champion and chose to celebrate his victory rather than return to the gym.

Mora was caught off guard when the contract was enforced and Forrest pushed for an immediate rematch. But whose fault was that? He had to lose close to 30 pounds during a five-week camp (seven pounds the week of the fight and two the day of the weigh-in) and was soundly beaten by the veteran.

Still, Mora points out that he honored the rematch clause, got in the ring with a potential hall of famer and gave it his best despite being in a listless state.

“I admit that I shouldn’t have taken that victory lap after winning the title and I paid the price,” Mora said. “But look what it took to beat me, it took a legend on a night that I was depleted. I think I’m special.”

Those who think Mora is more lucky than special only fuel his desire to win on Saturday.

“Detractors motivate me like you wouldn’t believe,” he said. “They embitter me. I have resentment to all the people who won’t give me the credit I’ve earned, the on-the-wagon-off-the-wagon fans, the boxing writers, the critics, everyone who never game me a chance to do anything in the sport, they are the ones who put this big chip on my shoulder.”

Gomez thinks Mora’s attitude coming into Saturday’s fight should mesh well with Mosley’s style.

“Shane’s never been in a bad fight, he always makes for good action,” Gomez said. “I think he’s going to make Mora fight. He’s going to dictate the tempo of the bout, which should make for a good one.”

Perhaps it’s not about winning or losing for Mora on Saturday. Maybe he’ll get the respect he seeks just by being in a memorable fight.