Sergio Mora said he knew he had to deliver a more crowd pleasing style in order to get back in the mix after returning to the ring for the first time in nearly ten months.
Friday night, Mora was a bit more exciting than in previous bouts, but more importantly, he was more effective, as he outpointed Grzegorz Proksa over 10 rounds in ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights main event in Jacksonville, Fla.
Mora was coming off a second loss to Brian Vera last August, his lone fight in 2012, and was a slight underdog heading in. Sporting a newly grizzled look, a bearded Mora showed he wasn’t just a different fighter in appearance, as he outclassed Proksa for much of the duration of their middleweight bout.
The former 154-pound titleholder who dethroned the late Vernon Forrest and won NBC’s boxing reality show The Contender, Mora looked more like a contender than he had since losing that alphabet trinket to Forrest in a rematch in September 2008.
Early on, Mora proved effective in landing his jab and straight right hand, while Proksa looked to try and figure out his opponent’s awkward style.
In round four, Mora buzzed Proksa a bit, which was surprising given Mora’s lack of power. By the midway point in the round, Mora had gained enough confidence to do what he set out to, press the fight rather than hit and run.
Proksa had no answer to Mora’s game plan and seemed lost for most of the bout. Occasionally, he would land a solid shot, but they usually came in singles. Mora was consistently landing a jab and clean, flush straight right hands.
What is more important is it was Mora who was pressing the fight most of the time. Proksa was the guy boxing on the back foot most of the way, no doubt helping Mora’s confidence grow as the rounds wore on. Mora also inflicted some solid damage to the body as he moved forward, helping slow Proksa down a bit.
In the 10th and final round, Mora came out with an intent to inflict punishment, landing a number of hard blows early in the round. Proksa, obviously frustrated at the way things had played out, countered with a shot to the kidneys before being warned.
Mora prevailed by scores of 98-92 and 96-94 (twice). The 96-94 scores were a bit too close as Mora controlled the bout for the duration.
The bout served as an interesting appetizer to Saturday night’s anticipated bout between Gennady Golovkin and Matthew Macklin. Golovkin’s lone criticism has been his lack of experience against top opposition, and Proksa served as the Kazakh’s lone legitimate 160-pound opponent heading into tomorrow night.
In a Boxingscene article by Keith Idec, Mora remarked that he hoped a win Friday could lead to a bout with Golovkin, whom he referred to as a “so-called killer,” questioning Golovkin’s credentials the same way his few skeptics have.
Mora hopes that this lone victory will be enough to get him back in the mix on major television, but truthfully, it should take at least one more solid win before his name gets mentioned in the same sentence as Golovkin, Sergio Martinez, or any of the other beltholders at 160 pounds. Mora had been 2-3-1 in his last six bouts heading in.
Brazilian junior middleweight prospect Patrick Teixeira (20-0, 17 KOs) picked up his first credible victory, outslugging tough journeyman Marcus Willis (13-3-2, 3 KOs) in the televised opener.
The two fought on close to even terms in the first few rounds, but it was Teixeira who as landing a bit better. In the third, Teixeira rocked Willis in the closing seconds of the round.
In the fourth, it looked as though Teixeira had Willis in bad trouble as he backed him into the ropes with wide power shots. In the exchange, Teixeira suffered a cut caused by a punch. Willis had some mild success in the fifth round countering in between Teixeira’s wider shots.
In the seventh, Teixeira had Willis in bad trouble after rocking him midway through the round. The follow-up barrage was nearly enough to stop his opponent, but Willis was able to weather it. Teixeira punched himself out in the round and was on empty before hearing the bell.
Willis looked comically outsized against Teixeira, but still was able to give a good account of himself in defeat. Though behind on the scorecards, Willis attempted to rally late with Teixeira’s gas tank dwindling. At the end of it, scores were in favor of Teixeira unanimously by way of 98-92, 97-93, 96-94.
The 22-year old Teixiera was making his first appearance in the United States since a 2011 victory in southern California. He had previously fought mostly nondescript opposition in his native Sao Paulo but has recently fought in Mexico before tonight’s fight.
Willis was trying to play the role of spoiler for the second consecutive fight, having derailed the career of once promising prospect James De La Rosa back in April on a Don King card in Las Vegas.