Daniel Jacobs vows to shut Sergio Mora up
READING, Pennsylvania – It’s one of those nauseating clumps of memory that continues to gnaw at fighters. That one time when a victory didn’t come in a sweet wicker basket with a pink bow tied around it. It’s the fight Daniel Jacobs had been wishing to have back against Sergio Mora.
Tonight, at Santander Arena, Jacobs (31-1, 28 knockouts) is getting it when he defends the WBA middleweight “regular” title (Gennady Golovkin is the WBA “super” middleweight champion and thus recognized as the real beltholder by THE RING) for the fourth time with a rematch against Mora (28-4-2, 9 KOs) on Spike TV (9 p.m. ET/PT).
They met 13 months ago, when both fighters tasted the canvas in the opening round before Jacobs knocked down Mora again in Round 2 and fractured his right ankle. Referee Gary Rosato waved it over at 2:55, awarding Jacobs, 29, the knockout victory. But overall, it was hollow to both Jacobs and Mora.
A lot of things have changed since they last met. Jacobs shocked the boxing world and himself a little bit when he erased fellow Brooklynite Peter Quillin in 85 seconds on Dec. 5, 2015, at Barclays Center. It was his greatest pro victory. Mora has not fought since he last faced Jacobs, the 13-month layoff being the longest of his career since a 19-month hiatus he took after losing to the late Vernon Forrest in September 2008.
“Beating Quillin was the greatest win of my career, and for me to knock him off, and the way that I did it in 85 seconds, that made it special for me,” Jacobs said. “It did even shock me the way I beat Quillin. At the time, I gave myself a lot of praise for it, but in the back of my mind, I know there is still a whole lot more work that I have to do.
“That starts with Mora. This fight is important for me. And for a second, I’ll take it to a personal level. Sergio could be an annoying guy, especially with some of the antics he does online. Yeah, he’s gotten a little under my skin. I want more. I want to get better. I’m trying not to feed into what the boxing world says, especially after the Quillin win. I try not to get too caught up in the politics of boxing, and I think I deserve a shot at Golovkin, but Mora is unfinished business for me and someone I would like to shut up.”
Jacobs has arguably matured into the kind of fighter he always envisioned himself to be. There was the terrible setback he experienced against Dmitry Pirog (who stopped him in his sole pro loss) when he was 20-0 and fans and media alike held great expectations for him. Then he overcame his great personal battle with cancer that not only threatened his boxing career, but his life. Jacobs had to learn how to walk again.
Then he reached a mountain top—not the ultimate plateau, it should be noted—when he devoured Quillin.
“I can’t get too satisfied, and the biggest obstacle I have is taking too much away from beating Quillin,” admitted Jacobs, who has stopped 11-straight opponents dating back to the Pirog loss. “No one was talking about me a couple of years ago, so where I am now is great. I just want better. I have gotten a lot right and I have climbed the ladder. At least people are talking about me, and now I’m becoming the fighter that I do want to be. I know boxing is a short career. There aren’t so many Bernard Hopkinses in the game.
“I am a different fighter than when I first faced Mora. I would say that I’m more mature. I make wiser decisions in camp. Before, I used to take a lot of things for granted, especially before the cancer. So when boxing was taken away from me, I had to form this new personality and mind frame. I take things more seriously now and I do feel like I’m fighting for a bigger cause. I represent so many different people when I fight.”
But Jacobs has placed himself in a spot: How does he outperform his last performance?
“That’s the thing, it’s pressure that I don’t like so I try not to fall into getting caught up with fulfilling other people’s expectations,” Jacobs said. “You do that and you’re going to fail. My focus is just to win, and however those wins come is fine with me. Quillin is a far better fighter than Mora, and I get it, but there is a fine line from being caught in the hype about yourself and staying true to who you are as a fighter. I do want better fights than Mora, but he is a tough guy and good competitor. My concerns about Mora is nothing really. I just have to watch that he doesn’t make the fight a stinker, because he’s been known for that. For me, the key for building fans and good things is to perform, and perform with excitement.”
Mora is 35 and has done well toward preserving himself. He knows the situation and how he’s not expected to win.
“The rematch is something I’ve been asking for, and just because you ask for it, doesn’t mean you get it,” Mora said. “This rematch couldn’t come at a better time for me. The stars aligned for this one. Jacobs wanted a bigger, better fight, but all of the big names were taken. The ones that were available probably weren’t paying the money he was expecting. He outbid himself for the big fights.
“The reality is, we both have ring rust. The last time he fought it took him 85 seconds to beat Quillin. So he’s fought 85 more seconds than I have. That’s it. He wants to take care of business. That’s the way he sees it. I wanted this rematch and that’s how I see it. It means more to me. I know I’m an afterthought, and that’s how it’s been my entire career. I have nothing to complain about, because I’ve made an excellent living being an ‘afterthought.’ Other people can complain about that, but I charge a lot for my afterthoughts. This is an opportunity to win another title in another division, and whether you respect me or not, you better respect my credentials.”
The only fighter who ever stopped Mora in his career was Jacobs, but the “Latin Snake” says that had more to do with his fractured ankle than anything Jacobs did.
“The key will be resilience early on and I’ve endured more adversity than Quillin,” Mora said. “I’ve been called scrappy, cagey, all of those things, but what’s really at the root of it all is that I’m a really f___ing good fighter, man!”