When breaking down this fight, Shane Mosley trainer Naazim Richardson called Sergio Mora one of the most underrated fighters in boxing. Ever since appearing on the popular TV show The Contender, the fighter dubbed “The Latin Snake” has struggled to shed his reality series image and show fans that he indeed has the skills to be a top pound for pound fighter.
He appeared poised to do that when he scored a decision victory over Vernon Forrest in the summer of 2008 to pick up the WBC junior middleweight title. But the glory was short-lived, as Mora lost the belt three months later in rematch that was hampered by issues making weight. Fight cancelations would keep Mora out of the ring for all of 2009, and he finally returned in April with a tune-up bout on the undercard of Jones-Hopkins II.
Shane Mosley is no tune-up. Even at 39 years old, Sugar Shane represents the biggest fight of Mora’s life, and a chance to put a future Hall of Famer’s career to rest while breathing new life into his own. This Saturday (September 18), it’s now or never.
Ismael: This is an intriguing fight for several reasons. First, a lot of people are speculating if you can even make 154 pounds anymore without being physically drained. What made you comfortable taking such a big fight at a weight you’ve recently had issues making?
Mora: That’s a good question and a legitimate concern, because when I defended my title in my last fight against Vernon Forrest, I had a real difficult time making that weight. I wasn’t given enough time to prepare for it. It was made in like five weeks, so I only had that time to get down to that weight. But for this fight I had 10 weeks and that’s exactly the amount of time I need to make this weight comfortably and strong. I’m very prepared and my weight is fine.
Ismael: You’ve always had a high punch output, but in your last fight I noticed you were very aggressive in looking for the knockout. Shane’s a better fighter, but will you be approaching this bout the same way?
Mora: I definitely have to be more careful with Shane. Shane’s a powerful, very fast, and experienced fighter. In my last fight, you’re right; I had planned on being more aggressive. I was off for a long time. I had two fights that were canceled with Kelly Pavlik and Daniel Edouard. I was coming off a 16 month layoff, and I was very spiteful and bitter. I wanted to take it out on my opponent. I was rusty for about two and a half rounds. It literally came off and then it was on.
Ismael: A lot of people have written Shane off because of how badly he looked in May against Mayweather. But, it’s really hard to gauge that considering he was in there with one of the best defensive fighters in the world. When you looked at that fight and the previous one against Margarito, do you see any noticeable decline in Mosley?
Mora: I look at the Mayweather fight and see that he took a couple steps back. But he was fighting the best defensive and overall boxer in the world in Floyd Mayweather. Then you include his age and coming off a 16 month layoff. With those factors of course he would look horrible, but he still had a chance to take Mayweather out in the second round.
I think he’s more of a power puncher now. He’s always tried to take you out, but before he tried to do it more aggressively. Now he does it more in a counter-punching kind of way. I think he’s still dangerous; he proved that in the fight before with Margarito. I’ve been sparring with Margarito for over 10 years, and I know how tough it is to hurt that guy. And for Shane to knock him out the way he did, it was destruction! That tells me this guy has a lot left. One bad night doesn’t mean he’s done.
Ismael: This year I’ve had to talk more about why fights weren’t happening than big fights being made. Because contract issues are being leaked and fans know so much, do you think that’s a detriment to the business aspect of the sport?
Mora: I made this prediction about 10 years ago. I’m not a computer literate person. I think there’s too much information out there. That’s the reason I don’t have a Facebook, Myspace or a Twitter. Privacy is not there anymore. It relates to your question; fans don’t need to know all that.
Before, it was about the mystery of two fighters in camp sweating and sparring. You know who was ready on fight night by the look in their eyes in the ring. Now you can follow them on Twitter, “Hey I’m picking up my groceries.” Then you can go to Ustream and Youtube. You know what they’re doing. Floyd is on 24/7 throwing money around and acting like a fool at clubs.
I don’t like it, you don’t need all that. You just need to prepare and fans should be spectators. They don’t need to follow a person. Boxers aren’t supermen, they’re just normal people. This is our profession. They get too carried away with everything else.
Ismael: Is this trip back to junior middleweight just for the payday or will you be staying in this division?
Mora: Wherever the money is, that’s where I’ll take the opportunity. I think the middleweight division is suffering. Kelly Pavlik was carrying that division for a long time, and he’s been a disappointment for the last year and a half to two years because of the staph infection. There has been a lot of questions about his determination, heart and work ethic.
The junior middleweight division is very exciting. You got Pacquiao, Margarito, Paul Williams, and Sergio Martinez. I think this is where the money is and this is where I’d like to have my big fights.
Ismael: Who’s impressed you the most at 154?
Mora: I like [Sergei] Dzinziruk. He establishes pace with the jab. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen him fight although he’s been around the game a long time. Dzinziruk didn’t wow me with combinations, but he definitely impressed me with how he’s been around so long and been a champ. He’s really good at what he does. He has a great jab and is a good 1-2 puncher. He maintains the fight’s pace really well.
Kermit Cintron is off and on. He looks bad then he looks good. He’s inconsistent but he’s still up there.
James Kirkland was on the fast rise up there. I had him in camp for two months, and he’s really tough. I told him when he was in camp with me that his problems were going to be outside the ring. Sure enough, it came true.
Sergio Martinez moved up to middleweight but he’s still a [natural] junior middleweight. He’s a force to be reckoned with.
“K’9” Cornelius Bundrage, I’ve always liked him. He’s a solid fighter with a great work ethic from a fighting town in Detroit. He’s a newly crowned champ and I know what that’s like. But I think he’ll take things serious and surprise people.
Ismael: You’re a boxer that was able to engage fans with your personality on The Contender, and even in the ring when you do a little showboating. Do you think image is just as if not more important to your success than what you do in the ring?
Mora: Yeah, I believe so. There are a lot of guys who have all the talent, but just have no flavor or style. I’ll give you a perfect example. Paul Williams is one of the best fighters in the world pound for pound. Yet there’s no aura around him, he has no personality and the wrong kind of flash. Paul Williams should be 10 times bigger than he is.
It has nothing to do with his fighting. I don’t care, I like Paul. Me and him fought on the same cards and I love his people. But the mainstream doesn’t accept that. The same way they don’t accept me because I was on a television show. They have a hard time accepting me as one of the best fighters in the division because I was a reality TV star. I’ve suffered the same thing.
Ismael: How hard or easy has it been to block out your friendship with Shane going into this fight?
Mora: One thing about athletes is that we’re all very competitive. We’re not close friends but we are friends. I’ve known him for 10 years, but we understand that this is a business. This is what we do. This is our education, and how we make a living and feed ourselves. Even though we’re friends, there are people in our lives much more important than Sergio Mora and Shane Mosley. So we have to go out there and do our jobs well to maintain our reputations. Once you start slipping those opportunities become bleaker and bleaker. Those paydays become less and less. So we have to be on our toes that’s for sure.
Ismael: A lot of this is out of your control and comes down to available dates, but if you had your way how quickly do you want to be back in the ring?
Mora: Well, I’m gonna have my way. I have to have my way. I’m very motivated and focused on this fight. After this fight’s over I need one more fight by the end of the year. So I plan on fighting in December. Golden Boy has a lot of dates, and I hear Amir Khan is fighting in December and so is Bernard Hopkins. I’d love to get on either undercard.
Ismael: What’s your prediction on Pacquiao-Margarito?
Mora: I think Pacquiao wins it very easily for about 7-8 rounds. Margarito will be cut and bruised up. But if Pacquiao is not careful and gets a little reckless, he can get caught with something late. It all depends on how he reacts to getting caught late, because Margarito is going to land something. More than likely it’ll be an uppercut. And that’s a punch that can land on Pacquiao when he rushes in with his 1-2s. If he can withstand those shots Pacquiao wins an easy decision. If not Margarito knocks him out late. I’m going for Margarito but I think Pacquiao wins a decision.
Ismael: Khan-Maidana is now signed. How do you see that one?
Mora: Well I’ve never thought much about Amir Khan. I think anyone who can get knocked out in the first minute of the first round doesn’t have what it takes to be great. I do think he has a lot of natural ability, size and talent. He’s like a young De La Hoya. De La Hoya was huge when he started boxing at 135 and 140. He was overpowering and outspeeding everyone. That’s where I think Amir Khan is at now. Once he starts picking up the caliber of fighters with that suspect chin, he’s going to have some problems.
Amir Khan beats Maidana. Maidana has been outboxed before. I think he outboxes him easily. Khan will have problems with guys like Devon Alexander. I think Timothy Bradley beats him. It’ll be guys with a game plan, some pop, and are relentless.
Ismael: Any final thoughts?
Mora: I’m very excited and prepared to fight another legend in Shane Mosley. It should be a night of unexpected fireworks. People think he’s on his way out and people think I can’t box, so there is going to be some surprises.
Ismael: Great interview Sergio and best of luck on Saturday.
Mora: Thank you very much.
The Shane Mosley vs. Sergio Mora PPV takes place on September 18 at 9PM ET.