Bryan Vera kept his career alive with a hard-fought split decision over former junior middleweight titleholder Sergio Mora in a 10-round main event of a Friday Night Fights show from Forth Worth, Texas, on Friday.
Vera, a 29-year-old middleweight/super middleweight fringe contender who had lost four of his last five bouts going into the ESPN2-televised fight, won by scores of 96-94, 96-94, 94-96.
The bout, which was contested at a 163-pound limit, was fast-paced, competitive and difficult to score. Vera (18-5, 11 knockouts) was the aggressor and the far busier fighter in the majority of rounds. Mora (22-2-2, 6 KOs) landed accurate counter punches and attacked the body well while fighting in spurts.
There were no knockdowns and neither fighter ever appeared in serious trouble but the bout featured good action in the form of heated exchanges between the participants of The Contender unscripted television series.
Mora had vowed to put on a good fight against Vera after receiving a lot of criticism for not fighting enough during his 12-round draw against Shane Mosley last September. The 30-year-old East L.A. native accomplished that goal by trading more punches than usual but he simply wasn’t able to control the Fort Worth native’s sustained pressure and high-punch output.
Mora’s constant upper body movement and footwork caused Vera to miss a lot punches but the naturally bigger man also landed quite a few, including flush left hooks during the first three rounds of the bout. Mora fought more aggressively during the middle rounds of the bout, occasionally walking to Vera and working the body. However, Vera mugged Mora whenever the quirky boxer elected to fight off the ropes.
Mora increased his punch volume in the late rounds, occasionally landing power punches from the southpaw stance. After countering well in the first half of the ninth round, Mora concentrated on a two-fisted body attack that appeared to take some of the steam out of Vera’s aggression. Both fighters appeared tired in the final round but managed to finish strong.
The close loss derails Mora’s plans for a middleweight world title shot for the time being but the entertaining bout could earn him another TV date. Vera’s win prevents him from taking on “journeyman” status and takes some of the sting away from his recent losses to undefeated prospects Maksym Bursak, Isaac Rodriguez, Craig McEwan and James Kirkland. He could land a significant fight against middleweight or super middleweight standout.
The Austin resident was scheduled to face Kelly Pavlik on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito pay-per-view show last November, but the former middleweight champ withdrew from the fight with personal issues. Following Friday’s victory perhaps Vera can get another shot at Pavlik, who is scheduled to make his return to the ring on the undercard of the Pacquiao-Shane Mosley PPV show on May 7.
In the co-featured bout of the Friday Night Fights broadcast welterweight prospect Charles Hatley (14-1-1, 11 KOs) and gutsy spoiler Chris Chatman (9-1-1, 4 KOs) fought to an entertaining eight-round draw with scores of 77-73 (for Hatley), 75-75, 75-75. Both fighters were down during the contest.
Chatman, an athletic southpaw from San Diego by way of Chicago, was dropped by a right hand-left hook combination in the first round. Hatley, an amateur standout from Dallas, was dropped by a left cross in the eighth round.
Hatley was the more effective boxer and counter puncher during the fast-paced bout but Chatman was the aggressor throughout.