SHANE MOSLEY vs. SERGIO MORA
When: Saturday, Sept. 18
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles
TV: HBO Pay-Per-View, 9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT
Weight: Junior middleweight
Title(s) at stake: None
Also on the card: Victor Ortiz vs. Vivian Harris, 10 rounds, junior welterweights; Saul Alvarez vs. Carlos Baldomir, 10 rounds, junior middleweights; Daniel Ponce de Leon vs. Antonio Escalante, 12 rounds, featherweights.
Height / reach: 5-9 (175cm) / 74 (188cm)
Hometown: Pomona, Calif.
Turned pro: 1993
Record: 46-6 (39 knockouts)
Trainer: Naazim Richardson
The Ring rating: No. 4 welterweight
Titles: IBF lightweight (1997-99; vacated); WBC welterweight (2000-02; lost it to Vernon Forrest); WBA and WBC junior middleweight (2003-04; lost titles to Winky Wright); WBA welterweight (2009-10; lost title to Floyd Mayweather Jr.).
Biggest victories: Philip Holiday, Aug. 2, 1997, UD 12 (wins IBF lightweight title); Oscar De La Hoya, June 17, 2000, SD 12 (wins WBC welterweight title); De La Hoya, Sept. 13, 2003, UD 12; Antonio Margarito, Jan. 24, 2009, TKO 9.
Losses: Vernon Forrest, 2002, UD 12 and UD 12 (for WBC welterweight title); Winky Wright, 2004, MD 12 and UD 12 (for junior middleweight titles);Miguel Cotto, Nov. 10, 2007, UD 12; Floyd Mayweather Jr., May 1, 2010, UD 12.
Height / reach: 6-0 (183cm) / 73 (185cm)
Hometown: Los Angeles, Calif.
Nickname: Latin Snake
Turned pro: 2000
Record: 22-1-1 (6 knockouts)
Trainer: Dean Campos
The Ring rating: None
Titles: WBC junior middleweight (2008)
Biggest victories: Ishe Smith, Sept, 12, 2004, SD 5 (Contender); Jesse Brinkley, Sept. 24, 2004, UD 7 (Contender); Peter Manfredo Jr., May 24, 2005, UD 7 (Contender); Vernon Forrest, June 7, 2008, MD 12 (won title); Calvin Green, April 3, 2010, TKO 7.
Loss: Vernon Forrest, Sept. 13, 2008, UD 12 (lost title)
Skills: Mosley knows how to box. He has good technique, but his identity is that of a fighter and that’s what he does in the ring. Despite vast experience and considerable skill the veteran is not comfortable when he’s not fighting and he has shown an inability to adjust to world-class boxers who will not engage him head on. Mora’s identity is that of boxer. His lack of world-class power has forced him to develop into a versatile fighter with an awkward style all his own. The East L.A. native can come forward with combinations, stick and move, fight off the ropes, box in close or counter punch from a distance.
Power: This category is not hard to figure out. Mosley owns far more knockouts (39) than Mora has fights (24). Mora has only knocked out six of the 22 opponents he has defeated and most of the fighters he stopped were journeymen. Mosley has stopped world-class fighters with world-class chins such as John-John Molina, Wilfredo Rivera, Ricardo Mayorga and Antonio Margarito.
Speed and athletic ability:If Mora were facing the prime version of Mosley this would be no contest. From 1997 to 2001 Mosley’s athletic prowess was rivaled only by Roy Jones Jr. The lightweight and welterweight champ was fast and powerful with lighting-quick coordination. However, age and wear and tear have robbed Mosley of his reflexes and explosiveness. Mora lacks power but he’s a good athlete with deceptive strength, agility, stamina and exceptional reflexes. Mora can react to his opponent at the speed of thought. It’s questionable whether Mosley still can. Mora is not explosive, but neither is Mosley at this stage of his career.
Defense: Mosley always possessed the ability to be an elusive opponent, and there was a time — during his lightweight title reign — when this was evident in the ring. However, Mosley is gifted (or cursed depending on one’s perspective) with a world-class chin and durability, which coupled with his warrior’s mentality, often causes him to eschew defense in pursuit taking the fight to his opponents. Mora’s not a defensive genius but he’s a smart boxer who knows that he cannot overwhelm his opponents physically, so he seldom takes the fight directly to his adversaries and he won’t stand and trade for very long. In other words, Mora’s mentality and style prevent him from taking too much punishment.
Experience: Mora turned pro two months after Mosley defeated Oscar De La Hoya for the welterweight title in the same arena he’ll face the veteran on Saturday. ‘Nuff said. Mora has a victory over Vernon Forrest on his resume (something Mosley can’t claim) but that’s the only elite fighter he‘s faced. Mosley has fought 14 current or former champs/titleholders in 18 fights, including the elite likes of De La Hoya (twice), Forrest (twice), Winky Wright (twice), Floyd Mayweather Jr., Miguel Cotto, and Antonio Margarito.
Chin: Neither fighter has ever been stopped in a professional fight. Both suffered knockdowns against Forrest. Mora also suffered a knockdown against Archak TerMeliksetian. Although Mosley was dropped twice by Forrest and appeared to be hurt much worse than the weight-drained Mora was when he was felled by the late champ, the 39-year-old veteran’s chin has been more tested and is thus more proven. Mosley’s beard has absorbed the best shots from sharp/hard punchers such as De La Hoya and Mayorga as well as heavy handed bangers Margarito and Cotto.
Conditioning: Mosley’s been a gym rat all his life. It’s safe to say that he’s never been out of shape. Mora doesn’t live the Spartan life that Mosley does but he’s serious when it comes to preparing for a fight and while he’s only fought past 10 rounds twice (against Forrest), he’s never faded in the late rounds of any of his distance bouts that went eight rounds or more.
Wear and tear: Mosley, who began boxing competitively when he was eight years old, has the wear and tear of 17 years of professional fighting on his 39-year-old body. He’s usually the punisher in his fights but he’s been on the receiving end a few times as he was with Forrest, Wright, and in spots versus Cotto and Mayweather. Mora had two intense bouts with Peter Manfredo Jr. (UD 7, SD 8) in which he suffered cuts, but he’s never received an extended beating, including his one-sided loss to Forrest in their rematch.
Corner: Dean Campos, the 40-year-old trainer who has been with Mora since his amateur days, developed the unorthodox style that has served the East L.A. native so well as a pro. The two share a very special bond and obviously work well together. However, Mosley’s chief second, Naazim Richardson, is the more experienced trainer in this matchup. Richardson, who will be working with Mosley for the third time, was an understudy to one of the last truly old-school trainers, Bouie Fisher. The Philadelphia native coached his son Rock Allen (a 2004 U.S. Olympian) and his cousin Karl Dargan (a 2007 Pan-American Games gold medalist) to amateur success before he made his name as a pro trainer with Hopkins, Mosley and Steve Cunningham.
Outcome: The Southern Californian fighters will begin the bout in the center of the ring as they look to establish their jabs and set up power shots. Mosley will be the first to score with significant punches, landing smashing over-hand rights that knock Mora back on his heels and cause the Staples Center audience to rise from their seats. Mosley will take the first two rounds by forcing Mora back with right crosses and left hooks to the body, but starting in the third round the younger fighter will time lead right hands over the veteran’s pawing jab as he begins to get into his rhythm. Mora will use quick in-and-out footwork and feints to trick Mosley out of position and then rush in and nail the legend with left uppercuts and straight rights in rounds four and five. Mora’s head shots will snap Mosley’s head back and score points with the judges but they will not hurt the older fighter. However, Mosley will sense the fight is getting away from him in the middle rounds and act accordingly by stepping up his pressure. The veteran will bully Mora to the ropes and punish the upstart with single power shots to the body and head in rounds six, seven and eight. Mosley’s body shots will land with authority but he will have trouble landing to the head of Mora, who will twist, turn, duck and lean away from most of those incoming shots. Mora will fight off the ropes in spots, scoring mainly with a quick two-fisted body attack that excites the crowd, but at the behest of his corner he will get off the ropes going into the late rounds of the bout. Mora will frustrate a stalking Mosley with his jab, feints and lateral movement in the final three rounds of the bout but both fighters will raise their hands in victory at the sound of the final bell. The majority of the ringside press will believe the East L.A. native pulled off an upset, while most of the fans in attendance see a victory for Mosley, rewarding the veteran’s aggression and harder punching.
Prediction: Mora by very close, perhaps controversial decision.
Michael Rosenthal contributed to this feature.